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Public Statements

The Economy

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I rise to talk about the economy generally and the negative effect President Obama's policies are having on the economy and its health and particularly on middle-class families. I do not think we have to look very far to see that impact; in fact, this economy, which is growing at a very sluggish rate, the slowest recovery in 50 years. In other words, the economy, in terms of coming out of a recession that we had a few years ago, is recovering at a slower rate than in any recession in the past 50 years.

The labor participation rate--in other words, the number of people in the workforce--is at a lower level, percentagewise, than it has been in 35 years. We have to go back to the administration of Jimmy Carter to find a time when the labor participation rate was at a lower level than it is today.

In fact, in the last year, of the jobs that have been created, 60 percent of those jobs are part-time jobs. We are not creating full-time jobs, we are creating part-time jobs, meaning that American workers are having to work more than one job to make ends meet and are having lower take-home pay. In fact, the take-home pay, the average household income, is down by about $4,000 since the President took office. So we have lower take-home pay, fewer jobs, at least fewer full-time jobs, a slow, sluggish economy.

Why is that the case? Frankly, it is because the policies the President is putting in place are making it more expensive and more difficult to create jobs. Obviously, one of those policies that is having a profound impact on the economy is the President's health care law, which we refer to as ObamaCare. Since that bill was debated, going way back many years ago in the committees in the House and the Senate, a number of my colleagues and I have been raising concerns about the impact it would have.

For 4 years we have warned about the negative effects, such as increased premiums, which we are now saying is actually the case, reductions in jobs, fewer jobs. We have fewer jobs being created out there. More and more businesses are saying the reason they are not hiring people, the reason they are reducing their workforce is because of the mandates, the requirements, the uncertainty associated with ObamaCare.

People are losing access to health care that they like and were promised they would be able to keep, but for 4 years this President and his administration have looked the other way. Today, it seems that even the organizations that strongly supported the health care changes are coming to terms with their impact.

In fact, in 2009, the Cleveland Clinic hosted President Obama during the height of his sales pitch to the American people. That same Cleveland Clinic last week announced plans to cut some of its 44,000 employees because of ObamaCare. The Cleveland Clinic is the largest employer in Cleveland and the second largest employer in Ohio. They are the premier hospital and medical research center that is now paying for the consequences of ObamaCare.

The Cleveland Clinic is not the only company cutting jobs or wages in order to deal with increased costs due to ObamaCare. According to Investors Business Daily, more than 250 employers have cut jobs or slashed hours as a direct result of ObamaCare's high costs and job-killing regulations.

That should not come as any surprise, when a 2,700-page law has already yielded 20,000 pages of regulations. Democrats overpromised on ObamaCare. Now their signature piece of legislation is underdelivering. It turns out, if you like your health care plan, you do not necessarily get to keep it--just ask the employees at GE or at IBM or at UPS or at Walgreens or at Home Depot.

Not only has ObamaCare failed to make health care more affordable, but family premiums have actually jumped by more than $2,500 since ObamaCare became law. According to the Chamber of Commerce, nearly three in four small businesses plan to fire workers or cut hours as a result of ObamaCare.

All of these negative effects are shaping public opinion of this law. ObamaCare continues to be a gut punch to middle-class families who are already struggling and public opinion is at an alltime low.

In a recent NBC-Wall Street Journal poll, 12 percent of Americans believe the Democrat's signature law will have a positive effect on their families. According to a recent CNN-ORC International poll, nearly 60 percent of Americans now say they oppose ObamaCare, which is up 17 percent since January.

Americans are opposing this law for good reasons. There is a CMS Actuary report that says: Health care costs are going to rise by $621 billion. Just yesterday, Forbes published an article. The title of the article was ``ObamaCare Will Increase Health Spending By $7,450 For A Typical Family of Four.''

By taking information from the nonpartisan Medicare Actuary report which was published last week, Forbes concluded that ObamaCare will boost health care spending by roughly $621 billion above amounts that would been spent without the law.

By spreading across all American families, the increase in health care spending between 2014 and 2022 will amount to $7,450 per family of four.

Juxtapose that against President Obama's promise that premiums will go down by $2,500 per family.

A critical component of the health care law is the exchanges, which are scheduled to open for enrollment a mere 7 days from today. Yet it appears the administration is unprepared, yet again.

In fact, recently the Congressional Research Service reviewed the administration's missed deadlines during the first 3 years of the health care law's implementation. As of May 31, the administration has failed to meet a total of 41 out of 82, 50 percent--41 out of 82, 50 percent--of the law's deadlines. So it should be no surprise these exchanges aren't ready, which I find particularly concerning given the amount of personal information Americans will be required to provide to the government in order to apply for ObamaCare coverage through the exchanges. Personal data such as Social Security numbers, household income, and other tax return information will be entered into a Federal data services hub.

CMS recently signed a $1.2 billion contract with a British company to sort and evaluate exchange applications containing personal financial data. According to the New York Times, the company ``has little experience with the Department of Health and Human Services or the insurance marketplaces.'' Last year, congressional hearings uncovered that the company exposed more than 120,000 Federal Thrift Savings Plan enrollees to identity theft when personal financial data, including Social Security numbers, was stolen from a compromised computer. This is not exactly a track record that inspires confidence.

Only last week the Wall Street Journal reported a pricing glitch is affecting rollout of the exchange. This pricing glitch is producing wrong pricing information. To me, this is further evidence ObamaCare is not ready for prime time. Unfortunately for the American people, when it comes to ObamaCare, the worst is yet to come.

I would argue that it is time to give the economy--the American economy, middle-class families, middle-class workers--a break by permanently delaying the law for all Americans, not just a select few such as some of the waivers the President gives to his favorite constituencies but for all Americans so they are not subject to the harmful impact and harmful effects of this law.

ObamaCare is not the only one of President Obama's policies that is hurting the middle class. President Obama's war on affordable energy is also driving up energy costs and destroying jobs. During his first Presidential campaign, the President promised that under his energy policies, ``electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.'' Maybe people remember that statement, but he said ``electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket'' if he were elected President. Unlike his campaign promises to lower health care premiums and allow families to keep their health care plans, this is one promise the President has kept.

Last week the administration rolled out a new energy tax that will slash jobs, restrict access to abundant domestic energy, and make electricity rates skyrocket. When combined with other EPA regulations, the President's policies will destroy more than 500,000 jobs, cause a family to lose more than $1,000 in annual income, and increase electricity prices by 20 percent.

These burdens hit lower and middle-income families the hardest. These families pay a much higher percentage of their income on energy costs. Forcing these families to pay an additional $1,000 in energy costs each year reduces what they have available to buy a home, pay for their children's education, or simply make ends meet each month.

Even union laborers have expressed concern that the new energy tax is going to have a harmful impact on them and on their families. The head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said the tax will ``threaten economic growth and America's energy future.''

I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record the IBEW article.


Mr. THUNE. The middle class has been hit hard by the Obama economy. Unemployment remains above 7 percent. Middle-class incomes have fallen, as I said, by over $3,000 since the President took office. Unfortunately, the President's health care and energy policies not only destroy jobs but hit the middle class with higher health care and higher energy costs. It is time for Congress to act as a check to the President's agenda and to stop these policies before more hard-working families are further harmed.

I yield the floor.


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