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Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act Of 2009 - Resumed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, as we approach in less than an hour a very important vote--some have called it historic, some call it pivotal; it has been given various adjectives and adverbs--I think it might be appropriate to discuss for a minute or two how this all began.

It all began in the Presidential campaign. I do not like to spend much time recalling it. But health care was a big issue in the Presidential campaign. On October 8, 2008, less than a month before the election, then-Candidate Obama said, concerning health care reform:

I'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table. ..... What we'll do is we'll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of drug companies--

Keep that in mind: the drug companies--

or the insurance companies.

That was the statement made by then-Senator/Candidate Obama. What we have is a dramatic departure. There has never been a C-SPAN camera. There has never been a negotiation, a serious negotiation between Republicans and the other side. There has never been. I say that with the knowledge of someone who has negotiated many times across the aisle on many agreements. So don't stand and say there were serious negotiations between Republicans and Democrats. There never were.

But there were negotiations with the special interests, with PhRMA, the same ones the President said he was going to see who the American people were on the side of. Clearly, this administration and that side of the aisle was on the side of PhRMA because they got a sweetheart deal of about $100 billion that would have been saved if we had been able to reimport prescription drugs. The AARP has a sweetheart deal. There is a provision in this deal for them, plans that Medigap insurance sold by AARP are exempt from tax on insurance companies. The AMA signed up because of the promise of a doc fix. Throughout we should have set up a tent out in front and put Persian rugs out in front of it. That is the way this has been conducted.

Of course, after the special interests were taken care of, then we had to take care of special Senators. One deal is called--we have new words in our lexicon now--the Louisiana purchase, the corn husker kickback. I have a new name: the Florida flimflam, the one that gives the Medicare Advantage members in Florida the benefit, but my constituents in Medicare Advantage don't get it.

So in answer to this, in answer to a question today, the majority leader said:

A number of States are treated differently than other States.


A number of States are treated differently than other States. That is what legislation is all about. That is compromise.

Where is that taught? Where is that taught?

A number of States are treated differently than other States. That is what legislation is all about. That is compromise.

My friends, that is not what the American people call governing. That is called exactly an opposite contradiction of what the President of the United States said, where he says:

We will have negotiations televised on C-SPAN so that people can see who is making arguments.

I see the leader from Illinois over there. Just a few days ago, I said: What is in the bill?

The Senator from Illinois said: I don't know. I am in the dark too. I can give him his own quote.

So here we are, as the Senator from Tennessee said, in the middle of the night, and here we are, my friends, about to pass a bill with 60 votes. Sixty votes represent 60 percent of this body, but I can assure my friends on the other side of the aisle it doesn't represent 60 percent of the American people. In fact, 61 percent of the American people, according to a CNN poll, say they want this stopped. They disapprove of it. I guarantee you, when you go against the majority opinion of the American people, you pay a heavy price, and you should.

I will tell my colleagues right now that when you--this will be, if it is passed--and we are not going to give up after this vote, believe me. For the first time in history, for the first time in history, there will be a major reform passed on a party-line basis. Every reform--and I have been part of them--has been passed on a bipartisan basis. This will be a strict party-line basis.

I was thinking today about this vote, and I was thinking about other times and other examples I have had of courage or lack of or the fact that in the face of odds, you have to stand for what you believe in. I thought about back when I first entered the U.S. Naval Academy at the young age of 17. One of the first things they told us about in our learning of naval traditions was about a battle that took place early in the Revolutionary War. An American ship run by a captain engaged a British ship, the mighty British Navy. The American ship was outgunned and was outmanned. As they came together in mortal combat, with dead and dying all around, the British captain said: Do you surrender? The captain, John Paul Jones, said: I have not yet begun to fight.

I tell the American people: We are going to go around this country. We are going to the townhalls, we are going to the senior centers, we are going to the rotary clubs. We are going to carry this message: We will not do this. We will not commit generational theft on future generations of Americans. We will not give them another $2 1/2 trillion in debt. We will not give them an unfair policy where deals are done in back rooms, and we--all of us on this side of the aisle--will stand for the American people, and we have just begun to fight.


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