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Mr. MCCONNELL. Mr. President, I want to start out this morning by saying a few words about a man who has earned the respect and admiration of countless Americans for his energy, courage, and faithfulness to a calling that he first received about 75 years ago on a late-night walk around the Temple Terrace Golf Course in Tampa. The son of a North Carolina dairy farmer, Billy Graham turns 95 today. And I just want to join all the others across the country and around world in thanking this good and humble servant for his decades of ministry and tireless preaching of the Gospel that he loves.
In a career that spans generations, Billy Graham has walked the halls of power and counseled presidents and kings. But he has never forgotten his mission in life. And while he may not be able to preach at the giant rallies that made him a household name, he is still finding new ways to share his faith with a world in need of healing, hope, and purpose. Tonight, at the age of 95, Billy Graham will preach what's been called his final message to America.
Growing up, Billy Graham wanted to be a baseball player. Thankfully, God had different plans. And ever since that night in Tampa, he's put his extraordinary natural talents and generosity of spirit at the service of others.
Billy Graham's first crusade took place in the Civic Auditorium in Grand Rapids, MI, in September 1947. In the decades to come, more than 400 crusades would follow in more than 185 countries and territories on six continents. At one memorable crusade in South Korea, more than one million people showed up to hear the powerful preaching and the hopeful message of the Reverend Billy Graham.
Billy Graham may be the only preacher with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But he never let that celebrity get to his head. I am sure he would say that his beloved Ruth helped keep him focused. And it is a credit to both of them that all five of the Graham children are carrying on the family legacy today.
As Billy Graham has receded from public life in recent years, we have missed the steady, reassuring presence that he lent to moments such as the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11. But we have been consoled to know that he is still there on his mountain retreat in Montreat, NC. Billy Graham once said that ``God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.'' So today, I join countless others in sending our own message of thanks to a man who has been called ``America's pastor,'' and to say how grateful we are for the life and witness of the Reverend Billy Graham.
Mr. President, on an entirely different matter, yesterday Secretary Sebelius came back to Capitol Hill to testify about ObamaCare. We did not learn much from her testimony, but some of the Q-and-A was actually pretty revealing. She admitted that the number of folks who have enrolled in ObamaCare is ``very low.''
When pressed on the administration's promise that ObamaCare would drive down premiums, here is what she said about premium rates on the individual market: ``I didn't say they are going down.''
When asked if convicted felons could become ObamaCare navigators and acquire Americans' sensitive information, here is what she said: ``It's possible.''
These revelations are really concerning. Americans were counting on the President's claim that their families' premiums would go down, not up, under a new health regime. Americans who have lost their insurance and find themselves forced into the exchanges--the last thing they need is to worry about some felon stealing their identity.
To many Americans the administration still seems more interested in deflecting blame than taking responsibility for the real harm this law is causing. Yesterday's hearing did little to dispel that notion.
By now we have heard our friends on the left blame just about everyone and everything for the disaster they forced on our country--everyone and everything, of course, except themselves. They have tried to blame the same contractors they hired. They blame the Republicans. They blame the tea party. I am sure they have even tried to pin this on George W. Bush. Of course, the administration has repeatedly tried to blame insurance companies for lost plans too. But here is what the Washington Post Fact Checker had to say about that:
The administration's effort to pin the blame on insurance companies is a classic case of misdirection.
That is the Washington Post--``a classic case of misdirection.'' They got three Pinocchios for that whopper.
Unfortunately, that does not seem to have deterred our friends on the other side from indulging in the blame game. Within just the past week we have seen the White House lash out at the words of a cancer survivor and try to point a finger of blame at Texans. A few days ago--get this one--one of the President's political allies attacked the very kind of folks who are now losing their health coverage under ObamaCare. ``Free riders,'' he called them. ``Free riders.'' You know the folks he is talking about. These are not folks who have done anything wrong. They are not free loaders or free riders or anything else; they are our neighbors, our constituents, and they are not looking for handouts from the government. In fact, these are folks who went out and spent their own hard-earned money--not taxpayer money--to purchase the kind of health protection that best suits their families. For this, the President's allies attacked them? Many just want the government to leave them alone. Many just want to be able to keep the plans they like instead of only the plans the President likes. They want to keep the plans they like, not the ones the President in effect picks for them.
Here is what a small business owner in North Carolina said after his premiums shot up 400 percent: ``I just wish I could have my insurance back.'' That is what he said. ``I just wish I could have my insurance back.''
I just read this morning about a constituent who lost his insurance and is finding that policies on the exchange will be more than double his premium and increase his annual deductible. That is partly because as a 31-year-old single male he will now be required to buy a policy with features he doesn't need, such as pediatric dental care and maternity care. ``It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me,'' he said.
Another constituent from Caldwell County had this to say after learning of changes to her plan: ``My husband and I work hard, pay a lot in taxes and ask for little from our government. Is it asking too much for the government to stay out of my health insurance?''
No, it is not asking too much. It is simply taking the President at his word for the promise he made over and over, the promise that so many Democrats here in Washington made to their constituents but that we now know is simply not true.
I understand the White House is in a tight spot. They did a poor job preparing the country for this law, they wasted time making promises that simply could not pan out, and they chose to ignore the warnings from my party and experts across the country that these kinds of things would, indeed, happen. This is the result, and people are getting hurt. Premiums are rising, taxes are going up for millions in the middle class, folks are losing access to hospitals and doctors they like.
At this point, more Americans have lost health coverage than have gained it. As I mentioned yesterday, more than 50 times as many Kentuckians have lost private health coverage as have signed up for private plans on the State exchange. That is 280,000 folks we are talking about in my State, 280,000 Kentuckians who have lost their insurance. In Louisiana we are talking about 80,000 folks; in Kentucky, 280,000; up in Minnesota, 140,000 people; and close to half a million people in Georgia have lost their insurance.
It is way past time for our Democratic friends to end the blame game. Instead, they need to start acknowledging the consequences of their law and actually do something about the mess they created. If they are ready to do so, Republicans are willing to help. Let's work together to undo the harm of ObamaCare and start over with real, bipartisan, cost-saving reforms, reforms that will actually allow Americans to keep the health plans they like. That is the kind of reform Americans really want. If Democrats are ready to work with us, we can give them just that.
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