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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I look forward to working with my friend, the gentleman from Maryland, the ranking member, on what's going to be a long day and a great debate. Let me start this debate, first off, by saying this is what our constituents sent us here to do: to lead, to make decisions, to budget.
I want to start off by saying to the gentleman from Maryland how much I appreciate the adherence to the longstanding protocol in the Budget Committee on how, while we clearly disagree on a lot of the big fundamental issues, we've been able to conduct this debate in a civil manner. And I'm pleased that that tradition from the Budget Committee is continuing to this day, and I want to simply say how grateful I am for that.
Last year, Mr. Chairman, we passed the boldest budget in recent history, a comprehensive plan to lift the debt and free the Nation from the constraints of an ever-expanding Federal Government. We changed the debate in Washington. Suddenly we're having a debate about how much spending we should cut instead of how much more to spend, how to create jobs the right way, by getting the Federal Government off our backs, by eliminating the debt, and by reforming the Tax Code so that American families and small businesses can create a true economic recovery.
This week, we're prepared to be right here on the floor to take it one step further. We're bringing a 2013 budget, which we call the Path to Prosperity, which does this: it cuts $5.3 trillion in spending from the President's budget. It clears the roadblock of the partisan health care law that is now being debated in the Supreme Court because we believe that this partisan health care law is a roadblock to bipartisan reform. It puts our budget on the path to balance and a path to completely pay off our debt.
By contrast, look at what other leaders are doing today. The President sent us a budget last month, the fourth budget in a row, which proposes to do nothing to pay off the debt, let alone ever get the budget in balance. The President gave us a budget with the fourth trillion-dollar deficit in a row, ignoring the drivers of our debt, doing what his budget says, ``advancing the deterioration of our fiscal situation.''
The President's Treasury Secretary came to the Budget Committee and said:
We are not saying we have a solution to the long-term problem. We're just saying that we don't like yours.
Well, I couldn't have said it better myself.
Mr. Chairman, by offering empty promises instead of real solutions, the President and his party leaders have made their choice clear. They're choosing the next election over the next generation. Our government, in both political parties, have made decades of empty promises to Americans, and soon those empty promises are going to become broken promises unless we reform government. We're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend. It can't keep continuing.
We're offering Americans a better choice. We're offering Americans solutions. And let me just quickly walk you through just the kind of situation America faces today. This is what the Congressional Budget Office tells us we're looking at--a crushing burden of debt that is not only going to affect our children's generation by denying them a better standard of living, a prosperous future, but it's going to put our own economy into a tailspin. All the experts came to the Budget Committee and told us we don't have much time left to avert this tidal wave of debt.
Now, what's the rush? Why do we need to move so quickly? Because, Mr. Chairman, every year we don't do something to fix this debt crisis, we go that much deeper into the hole. That many more trillions of dollars of empty promises are being made to the American people.
Back in 2009, we asked the General Accountability Office how many empty promises is our government making to today's Americans? In 2009 they said, $62.9 trillion. Then we said in 2010, how many empty promises now? Now it's $76.4 trillion. Today, just 1 year later, they're now saying last year's stack of empty promises to Americans was $99.6 trillion. It's impossible to get your mind around these numbers.
What does that mean? That means if we want our government to keep all of the promises it is now making to current Americans--my mom's generation, my generation, and my children's generation--we have to, all of a sudden, invent, create and come up with about $100 trillion today and invest it at Treasury rates just so we could have the money to keep these promises government is making. That's impossible. It can't be done. We know that.
So it's time to stop lying to the American people. It's time to be honest about the situation we're in and then start fixing the problem because every year we go over $10 trillion deeper in the hole. Every year we go that much closer toward a debt crisis where government reneges on its promise to Americans. The people who need government the most--the poor, the sick and the elderly--they're the ones who get hurt first and the worst in a debt crisis.
What is the primary driver of this crisis? Spending. What the Congressional Budget Office tells us is spending is on course to double by the time my kids are my age and then double again over the course of this century. Revenues are going back to where they historically have been, but spending is on an unsustainable trajectory. And when you have to borrow that much money, when you have to borrow 40 cents on the dollar, just look at where it's coming from. This is not the 1970s where our debt was relatively pretty small and we borrowed about 5 cents on the dollar from foreign countries; and it's not the 1990s where our debt was getting big, and we borrowed at 19 cents from foreign governments.
Today, in 2012, 46 percent of our borrowing in this country--borrowing that's bigger than our economy now--comes from other nations, China being number one. We can't keep relying on other governments to cash flow our government. We are ceding our sovereignty and our ability to control our own destiny as a country when we have to hope that other countries will lend us money. We've got to get this under control.
Lastly, Mr. Chairman, here's what this budget does in a nutshell. It says, Let's get ahead of this problem. Let's preempt a debt crisis, and let's do it in a way so we can do it in a gradual way. Let's do it in a way so that we can preempt and prevent a debt crisis on our own terms as Americans. Let's not wait until we have a crisis. Let's not wait until interest rates go up and we're in sort of a European meltdown mode. Let's do it right, and do it now, because then we can keep the promises that government has made to people who need it the most--people who are already retired, people who are about to retire, the people who rely on government. You have to reform government to do that.
Instead of this mountain of debt, the Path to Prosperity budget puts our deficit and our debt on a downward slope and pays off the debt entirely over time. That takes time, that takes will, and it begins now. In short, Mr. Chairman, if we don't tackle these fiscal problems soon, they're going to tackle us as a country.
The best way to do it is put the kinds of ideas and reforms in place that grow the economy, create jobs, and get us back on a path to prosperity. We believe in the Founders' vision of the American idea. Your rights come from God and nature, not from government; and we believe in the freedom to pursue happiness. That means we want prosperity, we want upward mobility, and we want freedom and opportunity. Freedom and opportunity are gone if we have a debt crisis.
So what we're saying is let's do everything we can to get this economy growing, to get people back to work and back on their feet, and let's get our spending under control. Let's get our borrowing under control, and let's reform those government programs that are the primary drivers of our debt so that we can fulfill that great legacy that all of our parents told us about when we were growing up in this country, and that is this: each generation in America makes the next generation better off.
We know without a shred of doubt, it's irrefutable, that we're in the midst of giving the next generation a worse-off country, a lower standard of living and a diminished future. We have a moral and a legal obligation to stop that from happening, to pass a budget, to prevent that, to get us back on prosperity and get our debt paid off; and that's precisely what this budget does.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes just to respond to a few of the things that have been said.
First off, it's not the budget that lowers the highway funding next year by 46 percent. It's the current law that governs the highway trust fund that does that anyway.
Let's remember, Mr. Chairman, the highway trust fund is going insolvent. That's under current law. So our budget simply reflects that current law. But we say, let's go get new sources of revenue from oil and gas exploration to go to the highway trust fund, and let's have a reserve fund so that we can go out and find savings to fix this highway trust fund.
But since those bipartisan negotiations are just beginning to take place, since that conference is beginning to take place, we can't include it in this budget. Therefore, we had the reserve fund to be held in order to accommodate that compromise once it arrives.
Medicare. The growth rate of Medicare under this budget is the same one the President proposes in his budget. So for the chart my friend from Maryland used saying this is what the Republican budget does to growing Medicare out in the future, it's the same one President Obama proposes.
Here's the difference: President Obama, in his law, the one being debated over at the Supreme Court, says 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats will be in charge of putting price controls and cuts to Medicare to accommodate that growth rate versus our plan to put 50 million seniors in charge of choosing what health care plan is best for them. More for the poor, more for the sick, less for the wealthy; and it makes Medicare solvent.
Here's the catch: we don't change the benefit for current seniors. This system applies to younger people. Unlike the current law that the President passed, that my friend voted for, 15 bureaucrats are in charge of putting price controls on current seniors' medical care which leads to denied care for them.
So if we're talking about who's saving and strengthening Medicare, it is this budget as opposed to the status quo which raids it, rations it, and still allows the program to go bankrupt.
With that, I'd like to yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from New Hampshire, a member of this Budget Committee, Mr. Guinta.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 minute to simply say that I keep hearing this word, ``voucher.'' I'm told it polls well if your goal is to try and scare senior citizens. What we're talking about in here is to build upon the bipartisan reforms that have been advocated in the nineties, in the early part of this decade, and most recently on how best to save and strengthen the Medicare guarantee.
First, no changes for anybody in or near retirement in Medicare.
Second, when people 54 or below become Medicare eligible, they'll get a list of guaranteed coverage options from Medicare from which to choose, just like we do as Members of Congress, including, in this case, the traditional Medicare program. Medicare will subsidize their premiums from the plans they choose. If you're low-income or sick, you'll get much more. You'll get total coverage--no out of pocket--for a low-income person; and we say, if you're a wealthy person, you can probably afford more out of pocket, so you're not going to get as much of a subsidy.
That premium grows. We competitively bid. The plans must offer the basic benefit so it protects against health inflation; and as a backstop, it grows no faster than what the President proposes in his.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. In yielding myself 30 additional seconds, Mr. Chairman, here is the difference:
The President's is different. He allows Medicare to go bankrupt. Yet, even with that, he takes a half a trillion dollars from Medicare to spend on his new health care program for other people, and he puts a board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in charge of denying care by denying prices. It says you can go and cut reimbursement rates to providers and that you can do a values-based benefit design, which is what they propose--whatever that means--to affect current seniors.
We reject the idea that Medicare should be run by 15 unelected bureaucrats. Instead, we want to preserve it for the current generation.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I yield 5 minutes to the chairman of the House Republican Conference, a former member of the Budget Committee, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hensarling).
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. That's right. I thank the gentleman.
The cap on Medicare that is in law under the President's budget applies to current seniors. That doesn't occur for current seniors in our budget. We don't put this cap because we don't want the 15 bureaucrats putting price controls on care to current seniors. For future seniors 54 and below, Medicare grows at the same rate that the President's budget proposes it grows at. The difference is we don't want the bureaucrats rationing care.
On the purposes of taxes, I love this issue about tax fairness. The President is proposing higher tax rates and more loopholes. Here's the point I'm trying to make.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Yielding myself an additional 30 seconds, I'll say this. If you look at the current code, the top 1 percent of taxpayers get almost all the tax shelters, all the loopholes.
So here's the novel idea that we have come up with, and it's a bipartisan one. Get rid of the tax shelters so you can lower everybody's tax rates. And so a person who is parking their money through an average of about $300,000 in tax shelters, for every dollar in that tax shelter that's taxed at zero, we're saying get rid of the tax shelter and subject all of their money to taxation so we can lower everybody's tax rates.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield myself an extra 30 seconds to simply say when eight out of 10 businesses in America file their taxes as individuals, raising these tax rates hits job creators. Sixty-five percent of net new jobs come from small businesses. Half of Americans work in these kinds of small businesses, and my friends on the other side of the aisle are saying it's not enough that they pay more taxes than their foreign competitors; we need to make them pay a 45 percent tax rate in January.
Well, I've got news for you. Countries around the world are lowering their taxes on their job creators, and the President is proposing to raise it. That is a job-killer.
With that, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlelady from the First Congressional District of Wyoming (Mrs. Lummis).
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. First off, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the sincerity of the minority whip's sentiment, and he is a man who means that. I know that.
I would say, though, that this process of fixing our country's fiscal path would have been made much better had the President proposed a solution. The President just gave us his fourth budget, and for the fourth time, it doesn't do anything to get this debt under control.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I apologize. I won't because I am under tight time constraints.
And more to the point, Mr. Chairman, the United States Senate, controlled by the gentleman's own party, they didn't pass a budget in 2010; they didn't pass a
budget in 2011; and now they've announced courageously that they're not going to pass a budget in 2012 either.
How do you preempt and prevent the most predictable economic crisis in the history of our country, a debt crisis, if the President doesn't propose to do anything about it and the Senate won't even pass a budget?
We're leading; we're passing; we're proposing a solution. We understand the other side would love to just wait for us to offer our solutions to then attack. We don't care about that. We're going to offer solutions. And when we hear the word ``balance,'' watch your checkbook; hold your wallet. It means tax increases. Mr. Chairman, it's math. You literally cannot tax your way out of this problem. The problem we have here is a spending problem. That is why we propose to cut spending.
And with that, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Utah (Mr. Chaffetz), a distinguished member of the Budget Committee.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 1 minute to simply say, yesterday they said we're cutting taxes on millionaires by $150,000, today it's $300,000--it's probably going to be $1 million tomorrow.
What I would simply say is, this line that says we're ending the Medicare guarantee, let me remind you, Chairman, that this was rated the ``lie of the year'' of 2011 by the nonpartisan PolitiFact.
We don't want a rationing board running Medicare. We want seniors in charge of Medicare. We don't want to take more from successful small businesses that create our jobs and make them uncompetitive in the global economy. We want to take special interest loopholes out of the Tax Code to lower everybody's tax rates, but especially those of small businesses that create our jobs. And more importantly, we want to balance the budget, pay off the debt. Ours is the only budget that does that. The so-called ``balanced'' approach by our friends on the other side of the aisle doesn't even pretend to get the debt paid off, let alone under control.
With that, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Tennessee, Dr. Roe.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, let me yield myself 2 minutes to say, you know what ends the Medicare guarantee? The Medicare status quo.
We had the chief actuary of Medicare in the other day. He said it is $37 trillion in the hole. That's the unfunded liability for Medicare.
Look at the driver of our debt. Medicare is growing at such a rate that it goes into bankruptcy, the part A trust fund goes bankrupt in 2021, according to CBO.
Now, what does the President's law, the current law in law, do?
It says we need to slow the growth of Medicare spending by putting a cap over Medicare. That's in law today. And then it says, in order to enforce this cap, we're going to have 15 political appointees that the President will appoint for 6-year terms. They make the decisions. They decide what health care providers can do or cannot do and what they get paid.
The Medicare chief actuary came and told us the other day, they'll start off by paying Medicare providers 80 cents on the dollar to provide Medicare benefits and then go down to 30 cents on the dollar.
You think your doctor's going to do what you need if he gets paid 30 cents on the dollar?
He said that 40 percent of Medicare providers are either going to go out of business or just stop taking Medicare patients altogether. That's the current law. That ends the guarantee.
Here's what we say:
Get rid of the rationing board. Stop the bureaucrats from getting between the doctor and her patients. And don't change Medicare for people 55 and above so that you can keep the promise the government's made to them. But for those younger generations, because the program is going bankrupt, you must reform it in order to keep the promise to current seniors.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I yield myself an additional 1 minute to say this:
And the way we keep the Medicare guarantee is to save this. You get a list of guaranteed coverage options from Medicare, and among those choices are comprehensive
private plans and the traditional Medicare option, and Medicare will subsidize your premiums.
Those subsidies go up every year. If you're low-income, all of your out-of-pocket costs are covered. As you get sick, more and more coverage to prevent you from having sticker shock. And if you're wealthy, yes, more will be paid out of pocket because we think you can afford it.
That saves Medicare. That makes it solvent. And the competitive bidding that is done to make those providers compete against each other for our business, using choice and competition, is what the Medicare actuary tells us is the best way to preserve and save the Medicare guarantee.
You see, premium support with competitive bidding ensures guaranteed affordability. This is an idea that has had bipartisan support going back to the nineties. Yet our friends on the other side of the aisle would rather have politics than to really work to save the Medicare guarantee.
I yield 3 minutes to the doctor from Georgia, Dr. Gingrey.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of my time.
When we confronted the 2008 economic crisis, which launched us into the worst recession since the Great Depression, which threw millions of people out of work, which lost trillions of dollars in wealth in retirement savings for millions of Americans, that crisis caught us by surprise. We didn't see it coming. Out of that came very ugly legislation that lots of us supported.
Mr. Chair, this one is the most predictable economic crises we've ever had, and we have a Senate that has chosen for 3 years in a row to just do nothing. We have a President who, for the fourth budget in a row, proposes to do nothing to fix it. In fact, he makes it worse.
Here is what we're trying to do. We're trying to go to the country and offer them a solution. We don't think the country is headed in the right direction right now because a debt crisis is coming. So we feel morally bound and actually legally bound because the Budget Act requires that we pass a budget to offer a solution and an alternative: fundamental tax reform to get job creators creating jobs; take away the special interest loopholes and tax shelters and treat everybody fairly; stop raising the tax rate on successful small businesses to 45 percent, like is going to happen in January, and instead keep their tax rates low so they can create jobs; control spending; reform our welfare system.
We believe the American idea is essentially an opportunity to decide if the safety net--and we believe in a safety net that is there to help people who cannot help themselves, and to be there to help people who are down on their luck get back on their feet. But we do not want to convert this safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency and complacency which drains them of their will and their intentions to make the most of their lives.
We believe in a system of upward mobility and opportunity. We believe when we see Medicare and Medicaid going bankrupt that we should fix that. Let's let the States innovate, create, and have good solutions that meet the needs of their populations by giving them more control over Medicaid. They run it already right now. They just have all these government rules and regulations from Washington.
Stop the rationing board from denying care to current seniors. Get rid of that, and replace it with a guarantee that current seniors get the promise made to them and future seniors actually have a program that's solvent. So instead of having 15 bureaucratic elites price-control their program, allow 50 million seniors in the future to choose which one they want the best. One-quarter of seniors already today pick among the private plans that meet their needs. We want to keep giving them the choices.
At the end of the day, it's about a choice of two futures: Do we want this path of debt, doubt, and decline where we have a debt crisis, where the people that get hurt first and the worst are those who need government the most--the poor, the people in the safety net, and the elderly who depend on Medicare--or are we going to get this debt under control and pay it off and give our children a better future?
At the end of the day, it's a philosophy. What the other side is doing and what the President is proposing is that elites in the bureaucracy who are unelected, they make the decisions. In my judgment, Mr. Chairman, that is paternalistic, it's arrogant, and it's condescending.
So the question really is: Who do you want to be in charge of your life, you or these cronies in government?
Do we want to keep taking money from job creators and from families and sending it to Washington so they can distribute it to their cronies, so they can distribute it to whoever has the clout, and so they can make all these decisions in our lives on health care, financial services, education, the environment, and energy? If we keep surrendering our liberties and our freedom and our dollars, we won't have the right to pursue happiness as we see happiness in our own lives.
The idea of this country is that our rights come from nature and God to us automatically before government. Our rights don't come from government. But the idea that's being perpetrated, the path the President is putting us on, is one where he and his elites in Washington know better. They define our rights for us. They regulate, ration, and redistribute them for us. Whatever you call that, Mr. Chairman, that is not the American idea.
We have a profound responsibility to look our children in the eye, like our parents did to us, and fix this country's problems so they can have a more prosperous future. We know, without a shadow of a doubt--it's irrefutable--the next generation is going to be worse off. We know that if we allow this debt crisis to continue, if we allow it to kick in--and the experts tell us it could be as little as 2 years away--everybody is going to get hurt and the economy is going to go down.
We have a moral obligation to do something about that. What we're saying is do it now, do it on our own terms, do it in a way where people can see the reforms that are necessary so they are gradual, and do it in a way so that we can keep the promises the government has made to people who have already retired who count on government the most.
At the end of the day, Mr. Chairman, this is about choices. And we are going to give the country a choice of two futures so they can decide whether or not we want to maintain the American idea in this country.
I yield back the balance of my time.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. Mr. Chairman, I will yield myself 2 1/2 minutes, and I will just do 2 1/2 minutes to close.
First of all, the reason I wanted to yield these gentleman half our time is I don't know why they weren't yielded the same amount of time as the other substitutes were. I don't know why that happened, but it's wrong that it happened the way it did. That's why I wanted to give them those 5 minutes.
I also want to congratulate them for putting a plan on the table. It's nice to see. We don't see that too often these days.
I served on the Simpson-Bowles Commission, and I voted against it. I want to explain why, and I will use the numbers from this budget to show.
Number one, it keeps ObamaCare in place. It keeps PPACA in place. This budget does, too, because it's current law. So unless you rescind it, the spending of it, you're keeping ObamaCare in place, and I have a problem with that health care law. I think it's a bad one. This budget, Simpson-Bowles, keeps it in place.
Number two, it doesn't address the real drivers of our debt, which are these health care entitlement programs. Simpson-Bowles didn't do it. This one doesn't either. To me, you're really not dealing with the driver of our debt unless you do that.
Number three, revenues. Based on the baseline, it has $1.8 trillion in higher revenues. It does mean higher taxes. The last year of this particular budget has higher revenues than the Democratic substitute and the President's budget.
The spending cuts, when you look at the baseline compared to the current law baseline, the one we all measure against here, and you take out the war gimmick, it only has $27 billion in spending cuts over 10 years; by contrast, our budget has $3.3 trillion. So I'm not a fan of the war gimmick. If you take out that war thing, it only cuts about $27 billion off the current law baseline.
It claims that this cuts $4 trillion in deficit reduction. I'm not sure what baseline is being used to do that. But on the current policy baseline, this really only has $2.5 trillion in deficit reduction; 72 percent of that comes from tax increases and 28 percent comes from spending reductions.
I want to simply say amen for bringing a plan to the table. I have tremendous respect for Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson and Jim Cooper and Steve LaTourette because they're here being a part of the solution by offering a solution and not being a part of the problem.
I think it goes without saying, but it bears repeating, I just don't like the substance of it. I think it's going to end up pushing people into ObamaCare, whose costs will explode, and I think it's going to be bad for our health care system and it doesn't deal with the primary drivers of our debt. And I don't want to see a big tax increase before you deal with the entitlement programs, because then you're just chasing higher spending with higher revenues.
I reserve the balance of my time.
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Mr. RYAN of Wisconsin. I'll close by saying, Mr. Chairman, how I started.
I want to congratulate the gentlemen for just showing a plan and coming together. But I would simply say that the President disavowed this plan already. The Senator majority leader said he's not doing a budget this year, so I don't think anything is passing over there.
I want to reserve the rest of my comments for the substance of this. And I'll reveal the private conversation I had with Simpson and Bowles as to why I was not supporting Simpson and Bowles, as a member of that commission.
This doesn't go big. This doesn't tackle the problem. It doesn't do the big things. You can never get the debt under control if you don't deal with our health care entitlement programs. They're the ones that are the big drivers of our debt.
So, not only in addition to the fact that this keeps ObamaCare in place and it doesn't do Medicare and Medicaid reform--which are essential toward preventing the debt crisis--by repealing the tax exclusion, as Simpson-Bowles plans on doing, purports to do, you're going to cause all of these employers to drop health insurance for their employees and push everybody into the health care law, into ObamaCare, and the costs will explode. So I believe that it will do more harm than good at the end of the day.
I just don't think it's a balanced plan. I mean, if you look at the raw numbers, 72 percent of it is tax increases and 28 percent of it is spending reductions. That, to me, is just not balanced. We don't want to create a new revenue machine for government without getting these entitlements under control. Let's not chase ever-higher spending with ever-higher revenues.
So I appreciate the sincerity and the bipartisanship nature of this, but I just don't think the substance of this bill is right. I think it's going to worsen our fiscal situation by piling people onto the health care law, and it's going to hasten the bankruptcy of Medicare. It's still going to stretch Medicaid, which grows by a third in eligibility, a program that's falling apart by the seams. And I believe these tax rate increases, the revenue increases, will just be used to fuel more spending. That's why I urge a ``no'' vote on this amendment, on the substance of it.
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