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FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, today we will vote on repealing President Obama's Federal takeover of health care. This vote will be not only to repeal the specifics of this legislation but to reassert that we operate under constitutional restraint.

When this bill first came up, many on the other side sniffed and were incredulous that we would mention the Constitution. Many on the other side said the Constitution--they really had not even comprehended that the question would be asked, ``Where do you get the authority under the Constitution to do this?'' Well, interestingly, we do still operate in a society with constitutional restraint, and the courts have now decided that the commerce clause does not mean you can do anything.

The commerce clause, though, for the last 70 years has gotten larger and larger. I used to joke that you can drive a truck through it now, it is so big. I also used to joke that if my shoes were made in Tennessee, they could regulate my walking in Kentucky.

The commerce clause--the expansive definition and understanding of it--has been supplying no restraint to this body. But I think this court case and I think this bill is about so much more than health care. It is about whether we live and operate with constitutional restraint of government.

This has been going on for a long time. It started with Wickard v. Filburn back in the 1940s, where they told a farmer he could not grow as much wheat as he wanted to.

He wanted to grow 20 acres of wheat, and the government said: You can only grow 10 acres of wheat.

He said: Why?

They said: Well, because of the interstate commerce clause, we can tell you how much you are going to grow.

He said: Well, I am not going to sell it to anybody. How am I engaged in commerce? I am just going to feed it to my livestock.

They told him that by not selling it, he could indirectly affect the price of wheat between the States. It was a ludicrous argument then, and it is a ludicrous argument now.

My hope is that out of this case, as it moves forward to the Supreme Court, maybe we will see a Court that takes a step toward overturning Wickard v. Filburn. I think that would be the most important case in the last 70 years in the Supreme Court, if we do it. Will we get there? I do not know. But listen to what the Founding Fathers said about this. Many people say: Oh, the general welfare clause says we can do this or the commerce clause says we can do this. Madison wrote that we would not have enumerated these specific powers and given them to the Federal Government if we intended for there to be no restraint.

Recently, in the two Federal court decisions, the judges made a point of saying that if you can regulate inactivity--basically, the nonact of not buying insurance--then there is no aspect to our lives that would be left free from government regulation and intrusion.

So I think this court case is incredibly important, more important even than the specifics of the health care bill. There are many reasons we should have opposed the health care bill and still should, but really No. 1 among them is that we need to have a government that operates under the Constitution and operates under a commerce clause that was intended to promote free trade between the States and was never intended to allow a government to grow so large and so invasive that it could intrude into every nook and cranny of our economic lives.

With regard to the specifics of the health care bill, there were some problems in health care. As a physician, I have seen some of the problems. But do you know what the No. 1 complaint I got was? It was the expense of health insurance, the rising expenses. The Federal takeover of health care did nothing to that. In fact, it has already increased the expenses to those. You see premiums rising.

But when you see problems, there are two directions to go. We had problems in health care, but you could say: Do we need more government or less government? From my perspective as a physician, I saw we already had too much government involvement in health care. I saw that what we had going on limited competition. You need more competition in health care if you want to drive prices down. So you need to allow insurance to be sold across State lines. You need to allow competition in prices.

One of the surgeries I did was LASIK surgery, where you correct someone's eyes so they do not have to wear glasses anymore. No insurance covers it, and you would think: Well, gosh, maybe this body will get together and force people to buy insurance for LASIK surgery. It is good. It is a great thing. Well, do you know what. Without government getting involved, competition drove the prices down on LASIK.

So the prices were driven down because the consumer was involved. The same way with contact lenses; you can buy a contact lens for 4 bucks, maybe 3 bucks. It used to be $20 or $30 a contact. Competition works.

So what we should have asked ourselves when we looked at this health care debate is--yes, there are problems. Yes, we can agree portability was a problem. Yes, we can agree preexisting conditions were a problem. But we should have said: Do these problems exist because there is too much capitalism or too little capitalism? I would argue there is very little capitalism at all.

I do cataract surgery also. Do you know what. I charge the exact same price as every other doctor in my town, every other doctor in the State, and every other doctor in the country because the prices are set in Washington by a central committee. That is not capitalism, and that is why health care is broken.

We need to get back to the fundamentals, and we need to say: Why does capitalism work in nine-tenths of the economy but doesn't work in health care? Well, maybe it is because we are not allowing capitalism to operate in health care.

Today's vote on repeal is very important. There is great symbolism to this because we have to say: Yes, we operate as a body under the restraint of the Constitution, but there is also a message about economic systems. The American economic system is capitalism, and we should be proud of it. We should try to inject capitalism into more enterprises and not less capitalism. We should not have such great faith in government that government has all the answers because government is notoriously inept and inefficient at most of the things it does.

I rise today to support the repeal of the President's takeover of health care. I hope the Democrats will reconsider. I understand some of them are reconsidering.

I yield back the remainder of my time.


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