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Public Statements


Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. VITTER. Madam President, I come to the floor, as many of our colleagues have done, to talk about this very significant and, for me at least, stunning U.S. Supreme Court decision on ObamaCare. First of all, I use the word ``stunning,'' not particularly because of the outcome. I would not have been shocked at either outcome--upholding the law or striking down the law. I considered both of those clear possibilities. I am stunned and shocked, somewhat confused, by the decision--by the nature of the decision, by the nature of the majority, and by the reasoning.

I am not going to dwell on that. It is not my role or the role of other Senators to second-guess it or to claim we have some authority to rewrite it. But I do find that doing backflips beyond the significant power of the Court to completely recharacterize the individual mandate and parts of the law associated with it as a tax--it was never proposed as a tax. It was never debated as a tax. It was never written as a tax. It was never meant as a tax in any part of the ObamaCare debate or legislative action. So I certainly agree with Justice Kennedy who said out loud from the bench, which I think is significant, that to read it ``as a tax'' is not just reading the law a certain way, it is rewriting the law. Judicial rewriting of tax policy, judicial writing of the law to create a tax, is particularly worrisome. I absolutely agree with that.

I do think the majority, led tragically by Chief Justice Roberts, did backflips to rewrite the law in order to uphold it. I think that is very unfortunate.

What it also means for the country and for the policy debate and for us in the Congress is at least two things, which I think are also very important. No. 1, it means that if this is a tax, this is a massive tax increase on the middle class, which stands full square against the clear and repeated campaign promises of President Obama. So this is a huge tax increase, now that it is a tax, completely against everything he ran on and what he said over and over, campaigning for office.

It also means something separate that is very significant. If this is all about taxes and spending, it means a different Congress next year--hopefully, led by a different President--can repeal all of that with a simple majority of votes in the Senate through reconciliation. If this is all about taxes and spending, then it can all be undone through the reconciliation process. Of course, that is significant for one reason and one reason only: In the Senate, it means that lowers the requirement from 60 votes to a simple majority. If there is a Republican President, that would be 50 votes, plus the Vice President as the tiebreaker.

So my bottom line is simple. It was my bottom line yesterday before the opinion, it was my bottom line over the last several months, and it was my bottom line the day after Congress passed ObamaCare and the President signed it into law. It may be ruled constitutional, but it is still a bad idea that is making things worse. It is putting an all-powerful Federal Government between the patient and his or her doctor, and it is costing us an enormous amount of money as individuals, as citizens, as a society, and as a government that we clearly cannot afford.

Many of us made those arguments during the original debate. But I think all of those arguments have been validated and are even more clearly true and compelling in the months since ObamaCare was passed, in particular, because costs have been going through the roof. The suggestion that this was going to save us money and not cost us extra money--even the suggestion of that argument--has gone out the window. It is clear the opposite is true. Individual premiums have gone up as a result, family premiums have gone up as a result, and costs to the government and to society have gone up as a result. It has made the already staggering problem of health care costs worse and worse. It has made health care for everyday Americans less and less affordable. Because of that, I certainly renew my commitment to work with others to fully repeal ObamaCare lock, stock, and barrel.

Under the Supreme Court's decision today, I restate again that I think it is very significant since it is all about a tax and all about taxes and spending that can be addressed early next year with a simple majority in the Senate if there is a President Romney and a Republican Congress to do it.

I thank the Chair.

I yield the floor.


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