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Public Statements

Health Care Week XIII, Day II

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, sometime in the coming days, the Treasury Department will make an announcement that should startle all of us. It will announce that in the fiscal year that ended just 2 weeks ago, the Federal Government spent $1.4 trillion more than it actually had. What this announcement means is that lawmakers in Washington ran up a Federal deficit in 2009 greater than the deficits of the last 4 years combined.

This is a staggering statistic. It is impossible for most of us to imagine sums of money this large, let alone the unprecedented amount of money we have borrowed this year alone. But one way to think of it is to realize that since January 20 of this year, the Federal Government has borrowed $1.2 trillion or more than $10,500 for every household in the United States--this year alone: $10,500 for every household in our country. Just since last January, the Federal Government, as I indicated, has borrowed more than $10,500 for every single household in America.

As you can imagine, there is a limit to how much we can borrow without facing serious consequences, such as dramatically higher interest rates that will further hamper job creation and massive spending cuts and taxes down the road. That is precisely why Congress sets a limit on how much debt the government can carry at any one time. But the administration has decided to worry about all these things at a later date. For now, it wants to continue to borrow and spend, borrow and spend, as it has done all year.

But we are in dangerous territory. As a result of all this borrowing, Congress is about to reach the limit on the amount of debt it can legally carry. The administration expected this would happen, and that is why it recently asked Congress to raise the debt ceiling. Rather than cut spending or implement reforms that would reduce costs, the administration is proposing we borrow even more to finance its industry bailouts and now its health care proposal. What this amounts to is a public admission it cannot live within its means.

Think about the message that sends to American people. At a time when millions of Americans are experiencing a financial hangover from overusing their own credit cards, the government is still at it. Rather than pay down some of the principal, the government is asking the credit card company to increase its limit. What does it plan to buy with the room it gets on its credit card? More government spending programs.

This is fiscal madness. The primary reason we are in so much trouble financially is the fact that we cannot afford our current spending patterns. The projected deficit for 2009 is nearly twice as large as the previous postwar record from 1983. Yet instead of reforming existing programs such as Medicare and Social Security in order to make them financially sound and stable, the administration does not want to make any hard choices.

This is one of the reasons the administration has a problem on its hands with the American people when it comes to health care. Most of the health care bills the administration supports would raise our debt by hundreds of billions of dollars. Yet the administration knows Americans are concerned about all this spending and debt; otherwise, it would not have touted a report last week saying that a conceptual version of one of several health care bills being discussed in Congress could cut the deficit by $80 billion over 10 years.

Leaving aside the fact that this particular bill will never see the light of day, an important question arises: How can an administration that is asking Congress for a $1 trillion increase on its credit card limit claim with a straight face to be excited about $80 billion in deficit savings? That is like putting a new Mercedes on the government credit card and then calling a press conference on frugality because the dealer threw in a complimentary cup holder.

Americans do not buy any of it, and that is why they are overwhelmingly opposed to the administration's health care proposals. At the outset of this debate, there was one criterion for success: Reform would lower the cost of health care. Yet no one--no one--outside Washington believes that creating a new $1 trillion entitlement will do anything but increase costs and increase debt.

We are headed down a dangerous road. It is long past time for the administration and its allies in Congress to face the hard choices Americans have had to face over the past several months: No more spending money we do not have on things we do not need; no more debt. Real reform will lower costs and debt, not raise both when we can least afford it.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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