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Public Statements

Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act Of 2009 - Resumed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, tonight marks the culmination of a long national debate. Passions have run high, and that is appropriate because the bill we are voting on tonight will impact the life of every American. It will shape the future of our country. It will determine whether our children can afford the Nation they inherit. It is one of the most consequential votes any of us will ever take, and none of us take it lightly. But make no mistake, if the people who wrote this bill were proud of it, they would not be forcing this vote in the dead of night.

Here are just some of the deals we have noticed: $100 million for an unnamed health care facility at an unnamed university somewhere in the United States. The bill does not say where and no one will even step forward to claim it. Mr. President, 1 State out of 50--1 State out of 50--gets to expand Medicaid at no cost to itself while taxpayers in the other 49 States pick up the tab. The same Senator who cut that deal secured another one that benefits a single insurance company--just one insurance company--in his State. Do the supporters of the bill know this? I say to my colleagues, do you think that is fair to all of your States? What about the rest of the country?

The fact is, a year after the debate started, few people would have imagined this is how it would end--with a couple of cheap deals--a couple of cheap deals--and a rushed vote at 1 o'clock in the morning. But that is where we are. And Americans are wondering tonight: How did this happen? How did this happen? So I would like to take a moment to explain to the American people how we got here, to explain what has happened and, yes, what is happening now.

Everyone in this Chamber agrees we need health care reform. Everybody agrees on that. The question is how. Some of us have taken the view that the American people want us to tackle the cost issue, and we proposed targeted steps to do it. Our friends on the other side have taken the opposite approach, and the result has been just what you would expect. The final product is a mess--a mess. And so is the process that has brought us here to vote on a bill that the American people overwhelmingly oppose.

Any challenge of this size and scope has always been dealt with on a bipartisan basis. The senior Senator from Maine made that point at the outset of the debate and reminded us all of how these issues have typically been handled throughout our history.

The Social Security Act of 1935 was approved by all but six Members of the Senate. The Medicare Act of 1965 only had 21 dissenters, and the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 only had eight Senators who voted no.

Americans believe that on issues of this importance, one party should never be allowed to force its will on the other half of the Nation. The proponents of this bill felt differently.

In a departure from history, Democratic leaders put together a bill so heavy with tax hikes, Medicare cuts, and government intrusion that, in the end, their biggest problem wasn't convincing Republicans to support it, it was convincing the Democrats.

In the end, the price of passing this bill wasn't achieving the reforms Americans were promised, it was a blind call to make history, even if it was a historical mistake, which is exactly what this bill will be if it is passed. Because in the end, this debate isn't about differences between two parties, it is about a $2.3 trillion, 2,733-page health care reform bill that does not reform health care, and, in fact, makes the price of it go up.

``The plan I am announcing tonight,'' the President said on September 9, ``will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses and our government. My plan,'' the President said, ``would bring down premiums by $2,500 for the typical family. I will not sign a plan that adds a dime to our deficit,'' the President said, ``either now or in the future.'' And on taxes, ``No family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase,'' he said.

He said he wouldn't cut Medicare. He said people who liked the plans they have wouldn't lose their coverage, and Americans were promised an open and honest debate. ``That is what I will do in bringing all parties together,'' then-Senator Obama said on the campaign trail, ``not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together and broadcasting these negotiations on C-SPAN.''

Well, that was then and this is now. But here is the reality. The Democratic bill we are voting on tonight raises health care costs. That is not me talking, it is the administration's own budget scorekeeper. It raises premiums. That is the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office talking. It raises taxes on tens of millions of middle-class Americans, and it plunders Medicare by $ 1/2 trillion. It forces people off the plans they have, including millions of seniors. It allows the Federal Government, for the first time in our history, to use taxpayer dollars for abortions.

So a President who was voted into office on the promise of change said he wanted to lower premiums. That changed. He said he wouldn't raise taxes. That changed. He said he wanted lower costs. That changed. He said he wouldn't cut Medicare. And that changed too.

And 12 months and $2.3 trillion later, lawmakers who made these same promises to their constituents are poised to vote for a bill that won't bend the cost curve, that won't make health care more affordable, and it will make real reform even harder to achieve down the road.

I understand the pressure our friends on the other side are feeling, and I don't doubt for a moment their sincerity. But my message tonight is this: The impact of this vote will long outlive this one frantic snowy weekend in Washington. Mark my words: This legislation will reshape our Nation, and Americans have already issued their verdict: They do not want it. They do not like this bill, and they do not like lawmakers playing games with their health care to secure the votes they need to pass it.

Let's think about that for a moment. We know the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to this bill, and yet the people who wrote it will not give the 300 million Americans whose lives will be profoundly affected by it as much as 72 hours to study the details. Imagine that. When we all woke up yesterday morning, we still hadn't seen the details of the bill we are being asked to vote on before we go to sleep tonight.

When we woke up yesterday morning, we still hadn't seen the details of the bill we are going to be asked to vote on before we go to sleep tonight.

How can anybody justify this approach, particularly in the face of such widespread and intense public opposition? Can all of these Americans be wrong? Don't their concerns count?

Party loyalty can be a powerful force. We all know that. But Americans are asking the Democrats to put party loyalty aside tonight, to put the interest of small business owners, taxpayers, and seniors first.

And there is good news: It is not too late. All it takes is one--just one. All it takes is one. One can stop it. One can stop it or everyone will own it. One can stop it or every single one will own it.

My colleagues, it is not too late.


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