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Public Statements

Impact Of Massachusetts Election

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GOHMERT. So what you're saying is the President's health care bill really is a jobs bill, but instead of creating them, it eliminates them.

Mrs. BACHMANN. It eliminates them, and I think one can understand why. We saw a chart or a graph that was recently produced several weeks ago. It plotted all of the private-sector experience in the Presidents from the last 100 years. It showed that in President Obama's Cabinet, in his administration he has less private-sector experience in real job creation than any other administration: 7 percent experience. No wonder every answer that comes out of this administration is more spending, higher taxes, more government. But the last seven economic recessions, every blooming one of them we have come out of the recession--from government? No. From small business creation.

We would love, in our small business, to create more jobs, but I will tell you this, from the other small business job creators that I know in Minnesota: Right now they are scared to death. They don't want to add more jobs because they know if they add more jobs, they're stuck with more costs that they may not be able to take. They don't want to hurt the existing people they have now that they hired. They don't want to have to close their doors and fold up. A great business in our State, Home Value stores, just announced last week that they were closing their doors after over 35 years in business. Why? Because of this job-killing, bone-crushing debt that's coming out of Washington, D.C. Let's reject that.

The American people last night rejected President Obama's decision because if there is one headline that would encapsulate all of 2009 it would have to be this: ``The Federal Government takeover of private industry.'' That's what last year was all about. The American people said no way; we believe in America, we believe in job creation, we believe in prosperity. And that's what last night's poll numbers reflected.

Mr. KING of Iowa. Reclaiming my time, I would propose that it actually goes another step yet, and that is, we talked about the government takeover of the private sector, and we talked about between 30 percent and 33 percent of the private-sector profits nationalized by mostly this President's administration. We've seen the nationalization take place, the government takeover, but the most personal and private property we have is our own bodies. This is a government nationalization, a government takeover of our individual persons and bodies, managing our health care and seeking to tell us what we can eat and what we can't, what we can drink and what we can't, managing our own personal bodies. What could be a more egregious violation of liberty and freedom than that?

I would like to pose a question for a response here and maybe go down through some things in my mind and see if there is dissent among the esteemed Members of Congress that are here on the floor.

First I would ask you, if they impose a centrally controlled system of government-run health care, will it result in a loss of personal and economic liberties? And is it an indisputable violation of the principle of limited government established by the Constitution? Would you agree with that?

Mrs. BACHMANN. Absolutely. Yes, I would. I would agree with that.

Mr. KING of Iowa. I will ask another question. If they impose a government-run health care system, would such system result in increased costs in taxes to individuals, to families, to businesses, as well as to all taxpayers at the Federal, State and local levels?

Mrs. BACHMANN. It would. And that's what I am so worried about as a tax lawyer, that this will mean diminished opportunities for Americans because we will see increased taxes in defiance of President Obama's promise to the American people.

Mr. KING of Iowa. What kind of harm would that do to the American economy and the businesses and jobs and productivity and quality of life?

Mrs. BACHMANN. It would be irreparable harm. It would be very difficult to come back from.

Mr. ROE of Tennessee. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. KING of Iowa. I will yield.

Mr. ROE of Tennessee. What the gentlelady from Minnesota has said is absolutely true. Just in our area, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, the largest employer in the county, 14,000 people--these are jobs that don't go overseas, they're not exported, these people are doing great work--new innovations, new treatments that may go away with this system--they're afraid to hire anybody. In my local town, our medical center, 9,000 employees in their system. The adjoining city has a medical system of 6,000. That's 15,000 people that work in health care in two cities with a little over 100,000 combined population bringing quality care to the people of Appalachia.

What I am worried about is if that's going to go away. Those jobs will dry up--and those are great jobs that are not exported anywhere, they are jobs for

Americans with health insurance, with retirement plans, great benefits, and we may be tanking that also.

I want to just reminisce for a moment when I graduated from medical school and think back as the gentlelady from Minnesota, Congresswoman Bachmann, was talking about. When I graduated from medical school there were five high blood pressure medications, three of them made you sicker than the high blood pressure did. Now we have over 50 wonderful medications to provide for people. Antibiotics, a plethora of antibiotics; we had one or two at the time I graduated. Ultrasounds, MRIs, PET scans, survival rates of cancer. The research is just astonishing that's going on in America. We are the leader in the world; the world looks to us for medical innovation. With this right here I'm afraid it will stymie that innovation.

I think back--and we were talking about this a moment ago--one of my good friends and a colleague, a medical colleague whose wife is English, his sister-in-law lived in England. She died of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. That's a disease that Americans just don't die of any longer. We live with that disease. It's treatable. She was treated with a blood transfusion. We could have done that 50 years ago. That's all the treatment. And she got that treatment because she was too old to be treated. We don't do that in this country. And I'm afraid we're heading down that path.

I yield back.

Mr. KING of Iowa. Reclaiming my time, the value of life changes.

And another point, a point that I think John Shadegg made very well, is that this policy here--whatever number they attach to it or whatever they might try to do--will have mandates in it. And what it will do is it will require certain health insurance policies to have those mandates covered in there, and it mandates that people buy them or employers provide them. And his case is that that's a tax. I would ask the man who is the judge if he could explain why it's a tax when the government makes someone buy a policy and then takes it out of their taxes if they don't and puts them in debtors prison if they hold back. If you have to buy something, why does that make it a tax?

Mr. GOHMERT. If it's mandated by the government, then certainly it's a tax, because that is all that the government is entitled to do. Under our Constitution, you can't force somebody to buy a product.

And I appreciate your directing that question to me because obviously all the prior questions were directed at my friends from Louisiana and Minnesota because you qualified it by saying, This question is for the esteemed Members. So I stayed quiet throughout your answers, but now you have included me as the unesteemed Member.

Mr. KING of Iowa. They're polar opposites, Mr. Gohmert; they're Tennessee and Minnesota.

Mr. GOHMERT. Yes, exactly, Tennessee. Tennessee and Minnesota.

But that is what has gotten people upset across the country and is what we saw in Massachusetts. They've seen what's going on around here.

There was a promise that C-SPAN would be covering all the negotiations because we're talking about people's lives, the length of their lives, and their loved ones, how long are they going to be able to be living in this world, whether they will get the medication they need, or are they going to be told you're too old? So as the President so ably said before he was elected, those negotiations need to be out there. And all we've seen is the nasty, sordid deals that were cut after being behind closed doors so that you have insurance companies signing onto the President's bill. And then you go through and say, ah, here are the pages where they got their deal cut. Ah, here is the deal that the plaintiffs lawyers got. Ah, here's the deal the pharmaceutical industry got. And they're conflicting. And it is such a mass of mess the way they've cut these deals and they've forged them together. And the ones that are going to suffer are the people in this country when there is no reason to.

Mr. KING of Iowa. Should they be negotiated publicly and free of political favoritism, Mr. Gohmert?

Mr. GOHMERT. Exactly.

Mrs. BACHMANN. If I could just respond on the tax portion. Government can directly mandate that you must pay a percentage or a fee, which is a direct tax. But if government requires you to do something or purchase a health insurance policy in conformity with what government says must be the items in that policy, that's just as much a tax as if government says you must pay a percent or an exact amount. The final result is the same because the taxpayers' pockets are picked for what government mandates it must be picked for. It is a tax, pure and simple. That's the point.

Mr. GOHMERT. And along those lines--I appreciate the gentleman yielding--we've heard the President say, well, you know, States require you to buy insurance for your car, so this is nothing new.

Mrs. BACHMANN. It's not the same.

Mr. GOHMERT. It is very new. Of course we've heard the argument that actually, yes, States do require you to buy insurance if you're going to drive a car. You don't have to own a car or drive a car to live in a State, not in any State.

But another thing that's lost in the equation too is there is no mandate by any State in this country to buy insurance to protect your own car and your own person. You are required to buy insurance to protect the other person whom you may harm while you're driving. And all of that is based on the privilege of driving, it is not based on just living.

We are supposed to have, under our Constitution, as was mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, this right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Whether you're an unborn child or whether you're an old geezer like some of us, you actually have a right to life. And here the Federal Government is saying we're going to snuff yours out a little early because we just don't find that you're all that productive. Where is that line drawn once they're allowed to say now you buy a product or you don't get to live here?

Mr. KING of Iowa. Reclaiming my time, I have this other thought. It occurs to me, and I believe in H.R. 3200 there was an amendment offered that would have required Members of Congress to live under the same law. That offer for that exemption was voted down by Democrats. So if you had a bad policy, wouldn't you want to exempt yourselves from that?

I would ask the gentleman from Tennessee what he thinks of that.

Mr. ROE of Tennessee. I think you're absolutely right. I mean, it's the ``do unto others, except don't do it to me.''

Mr. KING of Iowa. Would you support language that would require that Members of Congress stand in the same shoes as the citizens of America?

Mr. ROE of Tennessee. There is not one of us standing here now that wouldn't agree with that 100 percent.

And Congressman Gohmert makes a good point about the mandate. Let's give some practical experience about what's happening to the mandate. Mandate means you have to purchase something, and in Massachusetts it's health insurance. It also says that you cannot be denied because of a preexisting condition. So the Harvard Pilgrim health care plan, beginning in March of 2008 until this year, 2009, 1 year, they found this, that almost half the people who got their health insurance through the Harvard Pilgrim plan kept it for an average of 5 months.

You couldn't turn them down, so they waited until they got sick, and when they got well, they dropped it. If you were in that 5-month period of time, that plan spent over $2,000 a month on those folks. For the other folks, like me, who just bought it for the year, they averaged then about $300 a month. So people scammed the system. They paid the tax until they got sick because it was cheaper than buying the health insurance. Then they bought the health insurance and kept it until they got well.

It's the same thing as using Congressman Gohmert's example of a car wreck. Well, you have your car wreck, and then you buy the best car insurance policy you can, and when your car is fixed, you drop it.

Mr. KING of Iowa. I yield to the gentleman from Texas.

Mr. GOHMERT. It is so important also to note that, with all the talk about our friends across the aisle who are concerned about the working poor in America, if you look at the bill that was passed out of this House, it makes it very clear: if you can't afford the great policy that is mandated and if you're just above the poverty line where the government is going to pay for it, you'll have an additional 2 1/2 percent income tax on your income. That is outrageous. Those are the people who, if they could afford to buy the insurance, they would buy the insurance. Now you're going to pop them with another 2 1/2 percent tax. That's not caring about the working poor, about the people who are helping make the engine in this country go.

Mr. KING of Iowa. Reclaiming my time, it's quite likely that this fellow right here, the health choices administration, czarissioner, would probably rule that those high-deductible, high-copayment, low-premium policies wouldn't fit his idea of what health insurance is in America. So the low-income people who can only buy in, according to the way this thing was laid out in negotiations in the Senate, would have about four different tiers of policies.

It's interesting: those who have the lower premiums pay the least amount. Those who have the highest premiums pay the highest amount. The people who can pay the highest premiums are the ones who get the best kind of health insurance out of that, and those who can afford the least have to have the highest copayment, but they can't do the high deductible because that doesn't fit the socialist model. That's part of what's going on.

Mrs. BACHMANN. If I could add to that, the one thing that doesn't get talked about very much here is the iron ceiling on wages that was contained in this bill.

If you have a double-income couple with no kids and if their combined income is $64,000 a year or more, at that point they lose all Federal subsidy. So what they have to do is go out, and if their employers pay the 8 percent fine to the government and don't provide health insurance, they have to go with after-tax dollars and purchase health plans, which, in Minnesota, would cost about $14,000 a year. So you'd have a couple making $64,000 a year who has to go and buy a plan out-of-pocket; but if the couple made $63,000 a year, Uncle Sam would pay their way. That's the iron ceiling on wages. There is no incentive to make a dollar more, because you would be so heavily penalized by going out of the subsidy, and that kills the American Dream.

Why would we have a couple of people here in this Chamber make a decision for over 300 million people? Let's free up decision-making for 300 million people to make the cheapest and best choices for themselves.

I yield back.

Mr. KING of Iowa. I thank the gentlelady from Minnesota and the other participants here tonight from across the board, from Tennessee and Texas.

I will just summarize what's going on here.

I think that a government-run health care system takes away our liberty. It nationalizes our bodies. It will result in increased costs and taxes. The taxes come in the form of mandates as well as whether we think we're paying taxes or premiums. It should not add to the crushing national debt or impose mandates. No tax dollars should go for abortions or for illegal aliens. It should be negotiated publicly, out in the daylight. It should apply to all Members of Congress. It should provide equal protection under the law. It should be free market-based, and it should protect the vital doctor-patient relationship.

That's the summary of what we want to do here, and it's what we have the opportunity to do because the cavalry came riding over the hill just in the nick of time in the form of, today, Senator-elect Scott Brown and, tomorrow, Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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