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Public Statements

The Republican Budget

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Speaker, Congress this week will focus on the Ryan Republican budget, probably the most profoundly negative and cynical plan ever advanced by a major party in the House of Representatives.

There are lots of individual analyses that are available to Americans, not from spin masters, but from serious journalists and analysts. I strongly hope that people will take the time to look at it. They will find in the course of their research that there are a number of very fundamental flaws.

First and foremost, there is no fundamental reform of our defense spending, something that is driving the deficit dramatically. We sidestep opportunities to reform agricultural programs. It actually takes us backwards on health care. And there are $4 trillion of program cuts over the next 10 years, falling primarily on low- and moderate-income Americans. It is a hypocritical approach.

Last year, Americans were given television ads from Republican candidates accusing Democrats of slashing Medicare for senior citizens. Now we see that the Republicans are taking all of those proposed slashes in spending and using it to finance their program to reduce taxes for those who need it the least.

In addition, people will be able to verify that senior citizens, starting in 2020, will be bearing a far greater burden for paying for their own Medicare than ever in the Affordable Care Act in any of the reforms. It replaces a steep curve of increased Medicare spending, no doubt about it. That's why in the Affordable Care Act we embedded reform proposals to bend that cost curve. It's replaced without proposals to reduce Medicare spending. It just simply slashes the support that seniors can get. It's replaced with the much greater cost curve increase for private insurance. Their approach is to give a voucher to insurance companies to provide insurance for senior citizens for health care.

Bear in mind, the reason we got Medicare in the first place is because senior citizens' insurance policies were not profitable. They couldn't buy comprehensive health insurance in an affordable fashion before Medicare. What leads anybody to believe that somehow aging Americans are going to be more attractive to the health insurance industry in the future? And by replacing Medicare, which actually has reduced cost increases below what it cost in the private health insurance company, you are actually going to increase overall health care costs.

But nowhere is that cynicism more evident than in a bill that is coming to the floor, I think tomorrow, the legislation to end the Prevention and Public Health Fund under the Affordable Care Act. Already in States like mine we've received millions of dollars for prevention activities and for wellness clinics to help people stop smoking and to improve the training of health professionals. These are investments to help make Americans healthier in the first place and reduce the demand for health care costs.

There was a time, Mr. Speaker, when prevention was a bipartisan issue. In fact, in our deliberations in the Ways and Means Committee in last Congress, people on both sides of the aisle were talking about the need to help deal with prevention programs to keep people healthy in the first place. What a sad state when one of the first actions of this Congress is to repeal this bipartisan concept of a prevention and public health fund.

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