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Public Statements

Reconciliation Act Of 2010

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 3590, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and H.R. 4872, The Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. These severely misguided bills authorize $1.2 trillion in new mandatory spending over the next decade, impose costly unfunded mandates on States, increase taxes on small businesses and families by more than $500 billion over ten years, and provide a clear path for federal funding of abortions.

* Both President Obama and Speaker Pelosi have talked about the ``historic'' nature of their health care legislation. While they claim to be acting upon the unrealized goals of a century of past Presidents and Congresses to expand health care access to all Americans, the real history that's being made by the passage of the legislation is less inspiring. Rather than seeking a national consensus to forge a truly historic, and badly needed reform of American health care, the President and the Speaker instead cynically crafted alone a one-sided, purely partisan bill that ignores the desires of the majority of the people.

* Unlike the Social Security and Medicare Acts which enjoyed strong bipartisan support in their day, the President and the Speaker's health care legislation, which will impact nearly one-sixth of the economy, did not see one single Republican vote in support of their effort. Furthermore, 34 members of their own party joined Republicans in opposing this blatant power grab, dressed up as health care reform.

* The reason for this lopsided vote is clear. The Democrat health care plan facilitates a backdoor takeover of American health care. The Federal Government would force small businesses and even individuals to buy health coverage or face stiff penalties. This mandate may well be unconstitutional and, in many states, including my State of Alabama, there are already attempts to challenge this in court.

* This $1.2 trillion health care scheme will increase federal deficits by $59 billion over the next ten years, while inflicting a painful combination of Medicare cuts and tax increases, affecting millions of seniors, families and small businesses.

* Ironically, the elderly--the most vulnerable to high medical costs--will suffer the loss of $200 billion from the popular Medicare Advantage program, upon which over 170,000 Alabama seniors rely. In all, a total of $500 billion will be taken from Medicare to pay for the broad health care expansion.

* But that's not all. This bill will also, for the first time, levy Medicare taxes on investment income. It imposes a new tax of 3.8 percent on unearned income.

* Small businesses would also be forced to provide a government-approved level of coverage or face a $2,000 penalty per employee. Businesses already providing coverage would face the same penalties if the government deems the coverage ``unaffordable.''

* What's more, individuals would also have to buy government-approved insurance--whether they want it or not--or face fines. The IRS will become the health care enforcement agency, hiring up to 16,000 new workers to ensure that everyone buys federally approved coverage.

* The Democrat health care bill will also place an unfunded mandate on States to expand Medicaid rolls. In my State, it will move an additional 400,000 people into an already cash-strapped Alabama Medicaid program. Alabama will have to come up with an additional $61 million annually to sustain this mandatory expansion of Medicaid, which will cost State and Federal taxpayers a total of nearly $1.1 billion a year. As Governor Bob Riley recently said, ``I am deeply concerned that sustaining this level of coverage would translate into a substantial tax increase on the people of Alabama.''

* Equally troubling is this health care bill's green light for the federal funding of abortions. Despite the President's Executive Order barring the use of any Federal funds for abortion, there is no permanent prohibition over using Federal funds to pay for abortions. Whatever deal Rep. BART STUPAK and his group think they may have struck with the President, it does not carry the force of law. Executive orders are signed by the President and they can be revoked by the President--and frequently, they are.

* Mr. Speaker, Republicans have been shut out of the President's and your health care bill from the beginning. We offered to sit down and start from scratch to write a bill the American people could actually support, including the ability to buy insurance across State lines, give small businesses the power to pool coverage, and address liability lawsuit abuse. The Congressional Budget Office said the Republican health care plan would increase access to care, lower premiums by up to ten percent and reduce the Federal deficit by $68 billion over ten years. Sadly, this kind of real reform was all but ignored by the administration and the Congress.

* This is truly a sad day for this House and for our country. Americans wanted and deserve so much more than a cynical push for bigger government. I am committed to supporting efforts to fix this badly flawed legislation and replace it with true health care reform that Americans can support.

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