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Public Statements

Health Care Reform

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, as we move toward tonight's all-important vote, we will have 10 more hours of discussion of this 2,074-page bill, which represents the top part of this stack. The other 2,000-page bill is the House-passed bill. Senators will have an opportunity to express themselves on the merits of this proposal.

What do we know for sure as we move toward this debate? We know Americans oppose this bill. They are not buying the claim that this legislation would do anything whatsoever to lower our staggering deficits.

In tomorrow's Washington Post, David Broder, their distinguished senior columnist, certainly not a political conservative, expresses his reservations as a citizen about the steps we could be about to take. Broder says, in part, in his column:

The day after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) gave its qualified blessing to the version of health care reform produced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Quinnipiac University poll of a national cross section of voters reported its latest results.

The reason Broder picks Quinnipiac, he said, is he is familiar with the pollsters and the process, knows they are thoroughly nonpartisan and credible. Of course, the Quinnipiac Poll is echoed by every other poll we have seen, no matter who has taken it. We know the American people are opposed to this 2,074-page proposal.

Broder points out that in the Quinnipiac survey, less than one-fifth of voters, 19 percent--a near 19 percent of the sample--support this bill.

Nine of 10 Republicans and eight of 10 independents said that whatever passes will add to the torrent [a literal torrent] of red ink. By a margin of four to three--

This is extremely significant--

By a margin of four to three, even Democrats agree this is likely [that this will produce a torrent of red ink].

That fear contributed directly to the fact that, by a 16-point margin, the majority in this poll said they oppose this legislation moving through Congress.

It is not just the American people who are saying that, the experts are saying it as well. Broder points out that every expert--this is Broder:

[E]very expert I have talked to says that the public has it right.

In other words, the experts agree with the public opinion polls that this 2,074-page bill is a budget buster. He quotes the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan group. He says--this expert says:

..... there's not much reform in this bill. As of now, it's basically a big entitlement expansion, plus tax increases.

He also decries the gimmickry involved in putting this bill together. Broder points out the majority leader's:

..... decision to postpone the start of the subsidies to help the uninsured buy policies from mid-2013 to January 2014--long after taxes and fees levied by the bill would have begun.

That is the only way they can make the CBO declare it budget neutral, deficit neutral.

In fact, we know that over a 10-year period, once it is fully implemented, the cost of this will be $2.5 trillion. Americans do not think higher premiums, higher taxes, and massive cuts to Medicare is reform. They certainly do not think it is what we need at a time when 1 out of 10 working Americans is looking for a job and the Chinese are lecturing us about debt.

Do we want to pass this staggering spending program at a time when many would argue our international bankers, the Chinese, are lecturing us about debt? At this time of economic crisis, we need to make things easier for people struggling out there, not harder.

Make no mistake, the Democrats' plan we will vote on tonight would make life harder for the vast majority of Americans. It raises their taxes, it raises their health care premiums, it cuts their Medicare, and drives millions off the private insurance they currently have. When fully implemented, this plan would cost, as I indicated earlier, $2.5 trillion. That is the equivalent of three failed stimulus bills.

Perhaps most shocking of all to most people is the conclusion of the Congressional Budget Office that this bill would actually drive up health care costs, not down. This massive bill, at a time when Americans are asking us to control health care costs, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office, actually drives up costs.

The American people are scratching their heads. They thought the idea behind all this was to try to lower costs. Perversely, what we are doing is the opposite.

Americans will have an opportunity to hear their elected representatives in the Senate express their views on this legislation all day today. Senators who support this bill have a lot of explaining to do--a lot of explaining to do. Americans know a vote to proceed on this bill, to get on this bill, is a vote for higher premiums, higher taxes, and massive cuts to Medicare. That is a pretty hard thing to justify supporting. Every Senator who goes on record saying we need to proceed to this monstrosity of a bill will, in effect, be voting for higher taxes, higher premiums, and cuts in Medicare.

It is a pretty hard position to justify. It is a pretty hard position to explain to your constituents. Frankly, I don't think it can be explained, and I don't think the American people do either.

I yield the floor.

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