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Public Statements

Working Together

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BARRASSO. Mr. President, later today President Obama is scheduled to give the first in a series of speeches about the economy. He is pivoting one more time to turn his attention to the millions of Americans who are still struggling 4 years after the recession ended. The reason I say ``one more time'' is because this morning one of the reporters said this is about the tenth time the President has pivoted to the economy.

A White House adviser said on Sunday that the President is going to speak about ``what it means to be middle class in America.'' Well, I hope President Obama will talk about how his own policies have harmed and continue to harm the middle class in America. I hope he will talk about the harm that his health care law has done to hard-working families. I hope the President will finally start talking about these things because the American people have been talking about them for a long time now.

I hear it every time I go home to Wyoming--almost every weekend. It doesn't matter whether I am in Fremont County, Park County, Laramie County, or Natrona County--wherever I am in Wyoming, I continue to hear about this law. Now we are even hearing about it from the very union leaders who were among the law's biggest supporters. The heads of three major labor unions put out a letter recently that warned of the damage the health care law is doing to the middle class. They wrote:

The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios.

Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios. That is what the law's supporters are saying.

They wrote that the health care law ``will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class.''

If the President wants to talk about what it means to be middle class in America, he needs to explain why his policies are destroying the backbone of the middle class. That is what the union leaders are saying. They are seeing, just like the rest of us, that the job numbers are not good for America.

In June, the number of people working part time who want to work full time soared by 322,000. There are more than 8.2 million Americans working part-time jobs because their hours were either cut back or because they can't find the full-time work they seek.

The White House conceded that the law was a problem for employers when it said they needed relief from the logistical mess the law has created. That is why the Obama administration decided to delay the so-called employer mandate. That was one of the signature parts of the President's health care law. Under the law, every employer with 50 people who were working 30 hours a week or more was going to have to offer expensive government-mandated health insurance. Now we have a 1-year delay on this extremely unpopular and damaging Washington mandate.

If the law is so bad for businesses that they can't handle it in 2014, it is still going to be bad for them in 2015, and that was just one regulation. The President's health care law has already created more than 20,000 pages of new regulations. Well, those regulations concern middle-class families I hear from in Wyoming, and it is not just Wyoming. The front page of the Washington Post has a headline that reads ``Health law's unintended impact on part-timers.''

For Kevin Pace, the president's health-care law could have meant better health insurance. Instead, it produced a pay cut.

Like many of his colleagues, the adjunct music professor at Northern Virginia Community College managed to assemble a hefty course load despite his official status as a part-time employee. But his employer, the state--

The State of Virginia is his employer. This is not some company, it is the State of Virginia-- slashed his hours this spring to avoid a Jan. 1 requirement that all full-time workers--

As a requirement in the health care law for large employers be offered health insurance. The law defines ``full time'' as 30 hours a week or more.

This isn't a business worried about a bottom line, this is the State of Virginia.

Virginia's situation provides a good lens on why. The state has more than 37,000 part-time hourly wage employees, with as many as 10,000 working more than 30 hours a week.

Remember, 30 hours is the key number.

Offering coverage to those workers, who include nurses--

An important part of our economy and important as far as the needs of our country--park rangers and adjunct professors, would have been prohibitively expensive, state officials said, costing as much as $110 million annually.

``It was all about the money,'' said Sarah Redding Wilson, director of Virginia's Department of Human Resource Management.

The health laws have an unintended impact on part-timers, and as a result it is hurting the middle class.

Middle-class Americans are also worried about their health insurance premiums--and they have a right to worry. The McClatchy News Service ran this headline last week: ``Obama boasts of health care saves, but costs likely to rise for many.''

The article went on to say:

Experts predict that premiums on individual plans will increase in most states because of the new consumer protections this sweeping legislation requires.

``Consumer protections'' is just the White House's way of saying more redtape. That includes all of the new, required services people have to have in their Washington-mandated, Washington-approved health insurance. It is all of the health care services people have to pay for in advance whether they need them, whether they want them, or whether they will ever use them. Those requirements are a big part of the reason--and another reason--that health insurance costs are still going up even though Washington Democrats promised the health care law would have the opposite effect.

It is happening all across the country. Indiana was the latest State to announce that premiums are going to go up next year--not down. Last Friday the State insurance department--this is not just somebody looking around--said the average rates for people buying individual plans will go up 72 percent. That announcement follows big increases in Ohio, Maryland, Idaho, Missouri, and Kentucky.

In one State after another, rates for next year are being announced, and they are much higher than they were before the President's health care law went into effect. When President Obama gives his speech today and over the next few weeks he should tell his audience the truth about what is happening to the rates and why. He should also talk to middle-class Americans about what might happen as far as their access to their family doctor under his health care law.

Remember when the President said: If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor? That was something the unions wrote about in their letter. It is a promise they think the President now isn't going to keep. Well, I think they are right.

Now the Health and Human Services Department admits that individuals may not be able to keep their doctors. This comes from the Web site the Department set up to try to answer questions people have been asking about the health care law. The Department's Web site now says if you get your coverage through the government's new insurance marketplace ``you may be able to keep your current doctor.''

That is a long way from when the President of the United States stood up and promised--actually he used the word ``guarantee''--you will be able to keep your doctor. It is that kind of backpedaling and broken promises that has union leaders worried. It has them worried, it has job creators hesitant, and it has middle-class Americans all across this country concerned.

Of course, the health care law is just one of the areas where overregulation is hurting the economy. Another example is President Obama's announcement last month of tighter regulations on powerplants. That is on top of the excessive redtape the administration has already put in place that makes it harder and much more expensive for America to produce American energy.

Last week I introduced a bill to block President Obama from going around Congress to implement his national energy tax through regulations. The American people have repeatedly told Washington to focus on jobs, not to roll out more redtape that increases energy bills and decreases economic opportunities.

The President promised that he cared about hard-working, middle-class families, but his policies, one after another, are hurting those families and are making their lives much more difficult.

President Obama needs to stop the Washington spin and tell the truth about his health care law and the truth about his other failed policies. Then he needs to come back to Washington, put aside his tired, old rhetoric and work with the Republicans to do the right thing for the American people. That means coming up with a replacement health care plan to finally give people what they were asking for all along: The care they need from a doctor they choose at a lower cost.

I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.


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