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Public Statements

Making Continuing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, we are going to have the opportunity to vote today to reverse course. I think most people agree that ObamaCare is not working out as it is intended. In fact, we had a Democrat recently say that when it comes to the implementation of ObamaCare, it is a train wreck. Whether one believes it is a train wreck, which is what I happen to believe, or whether it is a slow motion derailment, it is time for us to reverse course.

We have an opportunity to go in a different direction with the vote we are going to have here in about an hour on whether or not to defund ObamaCare. I think the overwhelming opinion across this country--an overwhelming number of Americans--believe that this is not working. It is hurting middle class families. It is costing us jobs. It is driving up health insurance premiums for people across this country, and we need to do something to reverse course.

For example, when we look at how this impacts average people in my State of South Dakota, we have young people today who, when they look at what they are paying in terms of health insurance premiums this year and what they are going to pay under the exchanges when the exchanges kick in, are seeing that a healthy 30-year-old woman in South Dakota is going to be faced with a 223-percent premium increase as a result of ObamaCare. A healthy 30-year-old man living in South Dakota is facing a 393-percent premium increase, when we compare the data being put out by the Department of Health and Human Services of what people in my State of South Dakota are paying today for similar coverage. I am using the bronze plan under the exchanges as a case in point.

For a young person in South Dakota, we are talking about $1,500 more a year to pay for health insurance for a young woman, and $2,000 more for a young man. This money is money that could be used to pay off student loans, save for a home, maybe start a family.

It is not just young adults who are going to be faced with making tough budget decisions between having health care and paying for other items. We know also that families are seeing health care premiums skyrocket, since the President took office, by about $3,000, or by about $2,500 since ObamaCare became law. That is happening at a time when average household income is going down. If we look at the average household income since the President took office, it is down by about $3,600. So families are seeing health insurance premiums go up by $3,000 while average household income is going down by $3,600. As we can see, middle class families in this country are being squeezed from both ends.

We have an opportunity to correct that. The vote today is a vote to defund ObamaCare. I have been a big advocate for delaying, defunding, replacing, repealing.

When it comes to this issue, count me as one of the ``all of the above''--anything we can do to get rid of this bad law and the harmful impacts it is having on the American people.

The vote today is going to be on defunding. I would daresay that every Republican in this Chamber--all 46 Republicans--will be casting a vote to defund ObamaCare. There is not a single Republican in the Chamber today or when this law was passed back in 2009 who voted for it. Since that time, we have had numerous votes--I think 29 or 30 votes--here in the Senate on repealing all or parts of ObamaCare.

So everybody on our side is going to be on the record today in favor of defunding this bad law. All it will take is 5 Democrats--5 Democrats--to get us to the 51 votes necessary to change the direction, change the course, turn this train around, and head it in a different direction. Republicans are going to be united on that point. There is sometimes a difference of opinion on tactics, about the best way to reach the goal, but one thing that unites all Republicans is the goal, and that is doing away with this bad law and its harmful impact on the American people, on middle-class families, on jobs, and on our economy. The question before the House is, Are there going to be Democrats, a handful of Democrats--five is all it takes--to stand with Republicans today and help us defund this law?

Nearly 60 percent of Americans say they oppose ObamaCare. We can stop it. We can start over and do this the right way. We have talked about, many times, the things we would do differently if we had the opportunity to write a law that actually would address the health care challenges people face in this country, that would create greater competition in the marketplace by allowing people to buy insurance across State lines, by allowing small businesses to join larger groups in pools so they get the benefit of group purchasing power, by reducing the cost of defensive medicine, by ending a lot of the junk lawsuits that clog the system today, by allowing people to have a refundable tax credit where they can buy their own health insurance and they have more choice, more competition.

These are all approaches we think make sense and would provide a positive alternative to the American people that would not cost us the jobs, that would not be driving up health insurance premiums by 393 percent for a 30-year-old man in the State of South Dakota or 223 percent for a 30-year-old woman, and that would give American families an opportunity to save more for their future, to provide for their families, and hopefully to invest in what is a better and a more prosperous future for their children and grandchildren.

That is the vote before us today. Again, I do not have to belabor the point when it comes to the harmful impacts this has had if you look at what it is doing to jobs, if you look at what it is doing to employers. We talk to people all the time. I doubt there is a Member here in the Senate who, when they go home to their State on weekends, does not have conversations with small businesses, with employers who are talking about what this is doing to their ability to create jobs, to put people to work, to raise salaries, to make sure the people they employ have a better future for their families.

But, clearly, as long as this bad law stays in place, it is going to be more expensive and more difficult for businesses in this country to create jobs; it is going to be more difficult, more expensive for middle-class families to make ends meet; it is going to create a much bigger, more expansive government that is going to cost the American taxpayer way more than I think was originally promised; and certainly it is going to add significantly to the massive amount of debt we are passing on to future generations.

We have an opportunity to get a do-over today. There has been talk during the implementation of this that it has glitches and bumps and inaccuracies and malfunctions. This is not ready for prime time. I think we can all acknowledge that. At a minimum, we ought to figure out a way to delay this and change course, change direction, and go in a better direction for America's future.


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