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Public Statements

Small Business Jobs and Tax Relief Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, this afternoon the House of Representatives voted 244 to 185 to repeal the President's health care law, the Affordable Care Act. It was a bipartisan vote. A number of Democrats voted in support of the law, although not as many as voted originally to pass it, because a lot of the Democrats, even those who voted against it, got shellacked in the last election, and it was a pretty rough, intense debate.

The American people never felt comfortable with this legislation. I believe it will be repealed. I do not believe it will be implemented. The reason is, whether one likes it or not, we simply do not have the money.

I wish to talk about that today. I am the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, and I wish to share some thoughts with my colleagues as we wrestle with what to do on health care and how to undo the legislation that passed by the narrowest single margin in this Senate on Christmas Eve and was based on false accounting.

President Obama promised, before a joint session of Congress in 2009, to spend $900 billion over 10 years on the law. He said:

Now, add it all up, and the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over 10 years.

$900 billion is a lot of money. It is almost twice the defense budget.

The President went on to say in support of this health care legislation that it would reduce the debt of the United States. We are going to add all of these new people to the insurance rolls, and it is going to pay for itself and reduce the debt. No one really believed that, but that is what the arguments were and the representations that were made.

But once we add up all the different spending provisions in the health care law, including closing the doughnut hole, implementation costs, including all of those IRS agents and other spending in the legislation, the total gross spending for the law over the 2010-2019 period--the 10-year budget window used at the time it was enacted--was actually $1.4 trillion. I will just show this to my colleagues with this chart because it is very important. The President promised the American people in his speech before a joint session of Congress that it would cost $900 billion. People knew it would cost more. But even then, in the initial 10 year budget window, as he proposed, when we count up all the spending in the Congressional Budget Office estimates of the legislation, including the enforcement mechanism through the IRS agents, closing the doughnut hole and other spending in the law outside of the major coverage provisions, the law spends $1.4 trillion over that same 10 year period. That is almost 50 percent more right there. I think that fact is indisputable. I will ask my colleagues to come tell me if I am wrong.

I would just note parenthetically, one of the most important components of health care reform should have been resolving the doc fix. Under current law, we are projected, without legislation that takes effect, to reduce Medicare payments to doctors by roughly 30 percent by the end of this year.
At the time the health care law passed, the cost of a permanent doc fix added up to about $200 billion to $250 billion over a 10 year period. Democrats originally included the doc fix in earlier drafts of the bill. But in the end when they looked at the numbers, if they included the doc fix--which is critical and needs to be fixed permanently; not continuing to hang out there every year and to be fixed by borrowed money--then the bill couldn't have

continued in surplus. In fact, according to the Congressional Budget Office, it wouldn't continue to be paid for as the President was saying. So they just didn't do it. They just decided they wouldn't fix one of the most important issues in health care, and it remains that way today.

So, as I work through this, we are using nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office numbers.

Most of the major spending provisions in the law, as our colleagues should know, do not take effect until 2014. So the true 10-year score should be 2014 through 2023. That is the 10-year window of full implementation. How much will the bill cost then? Each year it goes up because until 2014 we don't really see a 10-year full cost of the legislation.

So what Democrats did was--and the President deliberately did, with help from his OMB Director, Mr. Peter Orszag--they manipulated CBO's scoring conventions. In the initial 10 year budget window they only included 6 years of spending on the major coverage provisions so that CBO would appear to score it over 10 years and say it would only cost $900 billion. That delay tactic was a pure budget gimmick. So we can look at this chart and see that from 2014 through 2023, each year these red lines represent a situation in which we are closer and closer to 10 years of full implementation and how much the cost will be.

So we go from 2014, and the next 10 years, as the bill is fully implemented, and it will cost $2.6 trillion, almost three times the amount the President promised it would cost.

So people ask: How do we get in a situation where we are borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend? This kind of deception. A CEO in a court of law would go to jail if he proposed using that kind of accounting in his business practice and asked people to invest in his stock.

Analysis by my staff on the Budget Committee, based on the estimates and growth rates the Congressional Budget Office utilizes, finds that the total spending under the law, including the other spending not directly related to the coverage provisions, will amount to at least $2.6 trillion, and could be much more.

Now, how did they get this done? It is a sad state of affairs, frankly. The Obama administration, Mr. Orszag, the Office of Management and Budget Director who works directly for the President, also asserted that ``health care reform is entitlement reform.'' In other words, this is going to fix an entitlement danger--the problems we have with Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid; entitlement programs, each one of which are growing at fast rates that are unsustainable, that will head to bankruptcy in the years to come.

However, a simple comparison of the Federal Government's unfunded obligations for health care programs, before and after the health care law was enacted, clearly proves that the President's health care reform is not entitlement reform. It will not improve our long term spending trajectory. It will not make these programs more viable in the future. It did not put Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid on a sustainable path. Those programs remain disastrously unsustainable.

The President does not even talk about that any more. Here we are running into a reelection campaign and the country is facing a colossal financial danger from unsustainable debt, and the President would not even talk about it. He says things are getting along fine. I think it is a failure of leadership for him not to talk honestly with the American people about our fiscal challenges.

So before the President's health care law was enacted, unfunded obligations for the Federal health care programs totaled $65 trillion over a 75-year period. That is how much we are going to run short in money to pay for the obligations we have incurred under Medicare and Medicaid--and some other programs, but those are the big ones. After the recent passage of this health care bill, however, the figure, according to my staff's estimates, has gone up to $82 trillion. So the difference in the two numbers is what has been added to the unfunded liabilities of the United States. By the way, $17 trillion is 2 1/2 times the unfunded liabilities of Social Security, which is $7 trillion.

If my colleagues think I am in error about any of these numbers, I hope they will correct me. Perhaps I am, but we work hard to be accurate about them, and I don't believe I am off in any substantial degree.

The bottom line is this: We cannot afford this law and the additional burden it places on our country's finances.

We must repeal this health care law in its entirety and replace it with reforms that will improve our finances and reduce health care costs for Americans, not drive up their costs. This bill, whether you like it or not, will not be implemented. We simply do not have the money. At this time of high unemployment, and almost no growth, it will be hard to do the things that are necessary, that we have to do: fix Social Security, fix Medicare, provide for the common defense. Those things have to be done. We have no money to pay for a $2.6 trillion program over a 10-year period. We have to save these programs we are committed to first.

The President's health care law will not be fully implemented until 2014. It is not too late to stop it now. And we are going to have to, simply because the finances of this country will not allow for it to go forward.

I thank the Presiding Officer and yield the floor.


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