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Public Statements

Health Care

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, D.C.


Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I thank the gentleman from Iowa for leading off with this discussion this evening with regard to the legislation that is going to be coming down the road very quickly. How quickly we do don't know, but obviously more quickly than Speaker Pelosi promised.

Before you got here, on September 4, Madam Speaker said at that time she would allow Members of this body, Republicans and Democrats alike, and she also promised the American public they would have 72 hours in order to look over the bill, read the bill, and understand the bill. She made that promise.

Now, as you point out as we speak here on Friday

evening, almost 11 in the evening, we still don't know what the final bill is. That is somewhat ironic because a number of Members on the other side of the aisle, 190 or so, have already been out in the press saying that they will be supporting the bill when it comes up.

I have to ask, How are you saying you will be voting when the final version of the bill hasn't been printed yet, when you don't know what the amendments are or what the text is? But there are 190 who have said they will be voting ``yes'' on the bill at the first opportunity.

Speaker Pelosi said she would give us 72 hours for Members and the American public to look at it, but she has gone back on that promise. She said she didn't really mean with that period of time, so at 11 tonight or 1 in the morning, we may then see the final version of the bill out of the Rules Committee, whenever they decide to do it, in the dead of night, perhaps. And then the bill will come up as soon as they want it to. So, so much for that promise.

The other point, there is a much larger issue, and I think this issue was somewhat addressed at the rally yesterday on the steps of Capitol at noon Thursday, and that is the constitutional issue here. We discussed this a little, and other Members have come here with their Constitution, and it reminds Members of Congress and the public that we live under the rule of law in this country and the Constitution, and we can't go outside of those parameters. And the Constitution says there are certain rights and responsibilities and powers that the Federal Government has, and the 9th and 10th Amendment tells, the 10 Amendment specifically, all rights not specifically delegated to the States are retained by the States and the people respectively.

So you have to ask, How is it that this body believes, the Democratic majority and President Obama believes that we can impose a personal mandate on the American public? How can they begin under our Constitution to start telling people that they actually have to buy a certain product by private industry or through the public option, basically through the government, whether they like it or not?

I will just digress on that point for a moment. If you don't like it, if you don't purchase an insurance policy that the government tells you you have to, you will be fined. You will be fined upwards of 2 1/2 percent of your income. The legislation also says if you do not pay that fine for not buying that insurance, then what will happen? Well, of course, section 7201 of the code says you can be fined an additional $250,000, a quarter of a million dollars, and you can be sent to jail for 5 years.


Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. I would almost presume so. Think about it. Who is that language targeted for? Is it targeted for the Bill Gates of the world who probably can buy any sort of Cadillac insurance that they want? Or the people on Wall Street who have the expensive Cadillac coverage because their employers provide it for them? No, of course not.

Is that aimed at the poor, nonworking American who can't afford insurance because they are disabled or whatever? No, because those people are protected currently under U.S. law, under Medicaid, and they get health care insurance through Medicaid.

So who is that language in the bill really targeting? That is basically the middle class, those people who are struggling right now, with around 10 percent unemployment we're looking at in this country. Actually, it's 10.2 percent, I think, is the last number, looking at 10.2 percent. Those people are struggling and they're saying, I'm paying all my other bills--my mortgage, my credit cards, my kids' college education, and right now I have to make the decision that I'm not going to be able to afford to buy insurance right now. Guess what? Too bad. Under their bill, you are going to be fined for not buying that insurance policy. And if you don't pay that fine, you could be subject to punishment.

One last point on this, if I may, and then I will yield back to the gentleman. The other person, the other group that this is targeted at is the young. Before you came to the floor, the previous gentlemen were talking about how this relates to No Child Left Behind and that sort of thing and how the Federal Government is intruding in our lives in so many other areas, and how No Child Left Behind just didn't work at all, that's why I didn't support it.

And I coined the phrase--or maybe somebody else coined it before me--that actually this health care legislation is ``No Child is Left a Dime.'' And the reason that no child is left a dime is because this is a $1.2 trillion expenditure, and where is that $1 trillion coming from? Well, it's really not coming from you and I because we're already looking at, what is it, around $1.6 trillion, $1.7 trillion that we're in deficit right now? In other words, we don't have the money to pay for this bill. So who's going to pay for this bill? Your kids, my kids, America's kids, our grandkids.

So the benefits that are going to be paid to people today, you and me and the other people who are listening tonight here in the gallery and elsewhere, the people that are going to enjoy the benefits of this legislation today, such as they are, are going to be paid for by future generations. So there may be a lot of people who consider they're supporters of Obama, young people that in the past campaign said he's going to do great things for us. What is he really doing for the young people of today? Putting a tremendous burden on them as far as what they're going to have to pay for the people who are living today.

I will give you one example of that. There is something in the legislation called the ``class provision'' or the ``class act.'' What that basically is--yes, the class act, treatment of class act as long-term care insurance. What that basically is is trying to set up a program--good idea in concept--of trying to get people to have long-term care insurance. This is one of those budgetary gimmicks that's in the bill that makes it look as though we're actually saving money today. It makes it look as though the budget deficit is going down so they can say, hey, we're actually saving money. What are you talking about, Republicans? We're actually helping the budget deficit. Well, it's really a budgetary trick, and I can explain it in 30 seconds.

What that does is this: it starts collecting taxes today basically on people who are working, what have you. So young people today will be paying taxes today, and over the next 10 years those young folks will be paying in, what, $72 billion, a huge amount of money. But of course young people today will not be getting any advantage of that money. As a matter of fact, that money won't be going out the door to any large extent over the next 10 years because young people won't be needing long-term care coverage or insurance.

So basically you're putting in the bank all that money for the next 10 years. That makes the budget deficit look better, but in reality it's young people paying for benefits for people today. And their benefits--I'm not sure who's going to be around to pay for them and all of their needs and what have you. So it's a budgetary gimmick to make it look as though things are better than they really are to bring down the deficit. At the end of the day, after those 10 years, costs explode again and the next generation, our kids and grandkids, will be the ones who are not left a dime because it will all be right here in Washington paying for these benefits.

And with that--I see you have a chart to perhaps explain all of this to us--I yield back to the gentleman from Iowa.


Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. You raise a fascinating point, and I posit two questions to you.

If the Congress were to pass this bill, we know what some of the ramifications would be. It's going to be raising premiums. That is according to the CBO, the Congressional Budget Office. It's going to reduce health choices. It's going to cause delays and denials of care. Here is the one where I'll put a question to you:

$500 billion in Medicare cuts. Why would it be in the best interest of senior citizens, which I presume are who AARP would supposedly be looking out for--why would they suggest that they would be looking out for seniors when they're going to be cutting benefits to seniors for $500 billion?

That's not my number that I came up with. That is language right out of the bill, and it can be verified with the CBO.

So it's counterintuitive that any organization would be doing something against their measures unless--and I just came in at the point when you were saying this--an organization is, maybe, making more money out of the deal for themselves than for the people whom they represent.

I'll yield.


Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. You raise another interesting point. Again, we have to start from the premise with what is in the bill right now, what the CBO has told us and what the bill will do, if they do pass it tomorrow or Monday, what it will do is raise our premiums for insurance, it will reduce our health choices, it will delay or deny care, it will take away half a trillion dollars from our seniors in Medicare, and it will raise taxes by $729 billion.

We know those are the facts. That will happen if this bill passes. But you were saying with regard to the delegates, the doctors out there, the real doctors that you and I have are fighting back and saying that they may take back the endorsement from the AMA. But it may be too late; which raises this question, then: What is the rush? What is the rush to judgment? Why are we doing this on a Saturday or maybe a Sunday? We have only ever voted on a weekend when it's an emergency situation, like for a war resolution or things dealing with the military or what have you.

Is there any reason why this bill could not lay over for a week while the Members go back to their districts for Veterans Day and meet with veterans, meet with seniors, meet with doctors, meet with the other real folks? I cannot think of one reason why Speaker Pelosi would not allow us.

I would ask, I am sure she is up at this hour--and we have a few minutes left--I would appreciate it if Speaker Pelosi could come down here right now and explain to us why we can't have a week when the veterans and everybody else gets to comment on this.


Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Just one last point, because I know the time is up here, is that going to the point of rushing through this, we are not in control. We are in the minority party. We cannot set the agenda. This bill could come up in an hour from now, or this bill could come up Saturday morning or Saturday afternoon.

We hope and wish the leadership on the other side, Speaker Pelosi, would give us the time they promised, at least 72 hours. We have the whole week to do so.

But there is still an opportunity, however, for the American public to come back here tomorrow at 1 o'clock and have their voice heard on the green here by the Capitol.

With that, I yield to the gentleman.

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