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Further Changes To S. Con. Res. 13 Pursuant

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

FURTHER CHANGES TO S. CON. RES. 13 PURSUANT -- (Senate - December 22, 2009)


Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, I am glad to join my colleagues in talking about the health care bill. If you looked in the New York Times today, there was a full-page ad describing the bill. I am putting it up here, the same thing that was in the New York Times today. It starts with the question, I want to receive care from my doctor. This, on one page, puts the 2,600 pages in kind of what you are going to see with this bill. It is convoluted. It is difficult. It is expensive. This is what you are going to get. This was in the New York Times today. This is where I sit or this is what is going to happen to me in this overall system. It is no wonder the American public doesn't want this. They are not excited about this. They are not excited about what it is going to do to the budget--$2.5 trillion. That is about $700 million a day, if you are counting in millions a day as one way to look at it.

There are some interesting things hidden within the bill. One of the things I want to point out is the transfer of wealth from young people to old. One of the things that has really bugged me about what we have done in so many of the government systems here--it has been a wealth transfer from younger people to older.

Several of my children are students and working part-time jobs, and they are paying payroll taxes. They say: What is this payroll tax going to? I say: Well, talk to your grandparents and tell them to say thank you to you. These are funds collected that are going to pay for their retirement funds. They do, and the grandparents say thank you. But it doesn't seem to be satisfying to them because they are saying: Why aren't I putting this in something I am saving money for me so that I can have something later on instead of this sort of, OK, I am paying and they are getting. What is going to be there when I get there?

That sort of wealth transfer from young people to old people continues in this bill. Look at this wealth transfer. Younger workers will pay more for health insurance premiums so that older workers can pay less. Their cost at age 25 will go up 25 percent for health insurance premiums. If you are 64, it will go down 20 percent for health care. This is another one of the wealth transfers that take place. It isn't right. It is taking from the kids. It is taking from the grandkids. It should not be continued. It is continued in this bill.

You can look at it another way: Subsidies in this bill go disproportionately to older Americans. Average subsidies for the 55-year-olds are nearly 10 times that of a 25-year-old. A 25-year-old gets a subsidy of $458, a 55-year-old gets a subsidy of $4,427--another wealth transfer from younger to older.

Then you can look at the claims in this bill that there are going to be tax cuts for the middle class. That is if you are in the lucky group. For every low-to-middle-income family with a tax cut, three low-to-middle-income families have a tax increase in this bill by the structure of this bill, by this structure, this convoluted, difficult-to-navigate, hard-to-understand, expensive, $2.5 trillion structure.

That is where we stand. Likely to pass this body and then go to the House of Representatives where there is a major issue that is still brewing, difficult, and must be dealt with, and that is the issue of public funding of abortion that is in this bill.

If you want to cut some of the cost out of this thing, why don't you take some of those expenses out of this. That would be one way to cut back some of the expenses. But in the House bill, they included Stupak language which continued the Hyde tradition and law of the land that the government will not pay for abortions other than cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother. Except now buried in the Senate bill, in the Reid amendment, is the public funding of abortion, which we haven't done for years.

Yesterday I talked to both Congressman Stupak and Senator Nelson. They both agree that the Stupak language is far superior. It doesn't publicly fund abortions, whereas what is in this bill now does. You don't need to take my word. Here is what others have said. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who want a health care bill but are opposed to the public funding of abortion and opposed to abortion, say:

The bill is morally unacceptable unless and until it complies with longstanding current laws on abortion funding such as the Hyde amendment.

We voted on this floor for the Nelson-Hatch amendment which is now not in the bill.

You don't have to take that. You can take Bart Stupak, Democrat from Michigan, who voted for the bill in the House. He says:

It is now not acceptable. A dramatic shift in Federal policy that would allow the Federal Government to subsidize insurance policies with abortion coverage.

The American public doesn't want that either. The latest poll of December 22 shows that 72 percent of Americans oppose using any public money in the health care overhaul to pay for abortion, including 54 percent of Democrats and 74 percent of Independents. That is where they are. That is where the public is.

National Right to Life, which is the gold standard on standing up for life, says:

The Reid managers amendment requires that all enrollees in an abortion covering plan make a separate payment into an account that will pay for abortions. The bill also contains language that is intended to prevent or discourage any insurer from explaining what this surcharge is to be used for. Moreover, there is nothing in the language to suggest that payment of the abortion charge is optional for any enrollee.

This base bill has another thing in it: It takes the individual opt-out and moves to it a State opt-out. So while let's say Kansas may opt out of the abortion funding in the bill, they still have to pay their taxes that go to another State to pay for abortions there which are equally offensive to my people or other States that don't want to see this funding take place.

It doesn't address the issue of having preventive services include abortion. There was discussion that we are not going to include preventive services in it, but that is not in the language. There was discussion. We tried an amendment. That is not there. It can still be defined. Now it may ultimately
unwind the entire bill based upon the funding of abortion that is in the Senate bill. It will be up to House Members, a number of whom are very concerned and quite fired up about this particular piece, to take this out. I know Congressman Stupak is working to do that, wants to see that done, agrees with Senator Nelson that his language is far superior, actually does that. It is supported by the Catholic Bishops, the National Right to Life, and other pro-life groups that say the way to go is the Stupak language.

It is not what is in the Senate bill. The Senate bill will actually fund abortions. Then we go through the specifics, as I have in here, of the various places that it has. I met with Senator Nelson about those specifics. I have addressed a number of those concerns. I know he continues to work on it, but at the end of the day this is one of those babies you cannot split. You need to have the Stupak language in this bill. I am afraid at the end of the day that is not going to be in there. I know Congressman Stupak is pushing very hard for its inclusion, and I wish him all the best.

If this legislation passes this body, it is going to be up to the House of Representatives to put in that Stupak language. And they can do it. It is my hope they will do it. I do not think the overall bill should be passed, but certainly you should not have this piece of funding in this bill, in breaking the longstanding work we have had in the Hyde agreement, in the Hyde language.

Thank you very much, Madam President. How much time do we have remaining on our side?


Mr. BROWNBACK. Madam President, in that concluding minute, what I would like to briefly speak about is the overall process.

I think there are people in this body who did not want to include things such as abortion funding in the bill. But when you operate in a closed process like this, these sorts of things end up happening because the people who work on these issues are excluded. I certainly was not consulted. I am not saying anyone said: Well, look, we are not going to get your vote anyway, so we do not need to have it. But if you do not want to have abortion funding in it, one should look past that and say: Let's get the people who understand and work on this issue--and we agree, we should not have it in there; that is what President Obama said; it should not be in there--and let's see what language passes by their muster.

That was not done. Unfortunately, that is part of what has happened in this process. I think it is tragic that it has happened that way in this process. I think it is wrong. I think it builds a bill that then people are not satisfied with, and certainly a process they do not agree with that takes place in this overall bill.

It is still not too late. There is still time to address these issues, now that we have the bill to be able to look at. If people of good faith on the other side want to get these addressed, there are ways, and we have the language on how to address it. It is called the Stupak language. It has already passed the House of Representatives. It is called the Nelson-Hatch amendment that was debated here, although it was not passed. We can do that. It is important that it get done.

This bill is not supported by the American public, and particularly this funding piece that is so offensive to so many Americans. We can debate about abortion, but the government should not be funding it, and that is agreed to by over 70 percent of the American public.

I just ask my colleagues on the other side, as you move on forward with this--if this bill passes here--take this piece out. We know what language is agreed to and works. This piece can be taken out. It can be taken out yet. And I think the whole bill may unwind if it is not taken out--unwind because of a number of Democrats who voted for the bill on the House side who want the Stupak language, and they do not want the inferior language that was put in on the Senate side that will actually allow and start the funding of abortion, that we have not done for 30 years.

Madam President, I thank my colleagues and yield the floor.


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