Senate Confirms Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) as NASA Administrator
Senate Session - November 4, 2009
Speakers:
Time
Action
  • 09:30:23 AM

    none

    U.S. SENATE IS ABOUT TO GAVEL AND TO START THEIR DAY. FIRST UP ABOUT TWO…

    U.S. SENATE IS ABOUT TO GAVEL AND TO START THEIR DAY. FIRST UP ABOUT TWO HOURS OF GENERAL SPEECHES AND LAWMAKERS THEN RETURN TO A BILL THAT WOULD EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR UP TO 20 WEEKS. PROCEDURAL VOTE SCHEDULED FOR 12:15 EASTERN. NOW LIVE TO THE SENATE FLOOR HERE ON C-SPAN2. WILL LEAD THE SENATE IN PRAYER.

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  • 09:31:00 AM

    THE CHAPLAIN

    PRAY. ALMIGHTY GOD, BY WHOSE PROVIDENCE OUR FORBEARS BROUGHT FORTH THIS…

    PRAY. ALMIGHTY GOD, BY WHOSE PROVIDENCE OUR FORBEARS BROUGHT FORTH THIS NATION, GIVE TO OUR SENATORS A PASSION TO PROTECT THOSE LIBERTIES FOR WHICH SO MANY HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIVES TO DEFEND. GIVE THEM ALSO THE WISDOM TO TRUST YOU WITH ALL THEIR HEARTS AND TO PASSIONATELY AND HUMBLY PURSUE YOUR WILL, KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE PROMISED TO DIRECT THEIR PATHS. TODAY, MAY EACH LAWMAKER EXPERIENCE THE CONSTANCY OF YOUR PRESENCE. GUIDE THEM WITH YOUR HIGHER WISDOM, AND BRING THEM TO THE END OF THIS DAY WITH THEIR HEARTS AT PEACE WITH YOU. WE PRAY IN THE REDEEMER'S NAME. AMEN.

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  • 09:32:20 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PLEASE JOIN ME IN RECITING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG. I PLEDGE…

    PLEASE JOIN ME IN RECITING THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG. I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND TO THE REPUBLIC FOR WHICH IT STANDS, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.

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  • 09:32:46 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL READ A COMMUNICATION TO THE SENATE.

  • 09:32:50 AM

    THE CLERK

  • 09:33:08 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE MAJORITY LEADER.

  • 09:33:09 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE MAJORITY LEADER.

  • 09:33:11 AM

    MR. REID

    LEADER REMARKS THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO A PERIOD OF MORNING BUSINESS FOR…

    LEADER REMARKS THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO A PERIOD OF MORNING BUSINESS FOR TWO HOURS. SENATORS WILL BE PERMITTED TO SPEAK UP TO TEN MINUTES EACH. REPUBLICANS WILL CONTROL THE FIRST HALF. THE MAJORITY WILL CONTROL THE SECOND HOUR. FOLLOWING MORNING BUSINESS, THE SENATE WILL RESUME CONSIDERATION OF THE WORKER HOME -- WORKER HOMEOWNERSHIP AND BUSINESS ASSISTANCE ACT OF 2009. UNDER AN AGREEMENT REACHED LAST NIGHT, WE'LL AGREE TO THE SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT AT 12:15, PROCEED TO A CLOTURE VOTE ON THE BILL. SO AT 12:15 WE WILL HAVE A VOTE. IF CLOTURE IS INVOKED, POST CLOTURE DEBATE TIME WILL BE CONSIDERED TO RUN AS IF CLOTURE VOTE WAS INVOKED 11:45 LAST N.I.H. THAT IS A SHORT WAY OF SAYING WE WASTED ANOTHER DAY YESTERDAY. OF ALL THE WORK WE HAVE TO DO WE STOOD AND LOOKED AT EACH OTHER YESTERDAY, 30 HOURS OF DOING NOTHING. FOR ANYBODY WATCHING WHAT'S TAKEN PLACE THE LAST THREE YEARS KNOWS THE REPUBLICANS HAVE BECOME EXPERTS IN WASTING TIME, THE AMERICAN TAXPAYERS' TIME, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE'S TIME, AND YESTERDAY WAS NO DIFFERENT. YESTERDAY REPUBLICANS USED EVERY TRICK IN THE BALL TO SLOW AND INSTALL AND ENSURE WE CAN'T DO IMPORTANT WORK. 7,000 PEOPLE, ADDITIONAL PEOPLE LOST THEIR ABILITY TO HAVE A CHECK. MAYBE IT'S GETTING COLD. HERE IN WASHINGTON IT WAS 40 ADDRESS THIS MORNING. IN OTHER PLACES OF THE COUNTRY IT'S COLDER. NEED TO BUY A COAT FOR ONE OF THEIR KIDS, BUT THEY HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO AFFORD. MAYBE MAKE THAT PAYMENT FOR THE CAR BEFORE IT IS REPOSSESSED OR PAY RENT BEFORE THEY'RE EVICTED. THESE ARE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN OUT OF WORK FOR A LONG TIME, AND WE'RE SIMPLY EXTENDING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. MR. PRESIDENT, IT'S PAID FOR. WE'RE NOT BORROWING THE MONEY TO DO THAT. BUT, NO, THE REPUBLICANS HAVE STALLED AND STALLED. NOW MORE THAN 200,000 PEOPLE LOST THEIR ABILITY TO GET THAT EXTRA DOLLAR THEY NEED. THESE 200,000 PEOPLE NEED HELP, BUT REPUBLICANS CAN'T BE BOTHERED WITHIN WITH THAT -- BOTHERED WITH THAT. THEY ARE STALLING. THEY ARE SHOWING EVERYBODY THEY CAN STALL THINGS HERE. THEY'RE DOING THAT. BUT I AM GRATEFUL, MR. PRESIDENT, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE WATCHING. THE TWO CONGRESSIONAL SEATS OPEN -- TWO SPECIAL ELECTIONS YESTERDAY, THEY WERE BOTH WON BY DEMOCRATS. DEMOCRATS AROUND THE COUNTRY. INDEPENDENTS AROUND THE KUPBD AND REPUBLICANS AROUND THE COUNTRY KNOW WHAT HAS HAPPENED IN THIS BODY IN RECENT YEARS. REPUBLICANS ARE THE PARTY OF "NO" AND THAT'S WHY IN NEW YORK, A CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT THAT FOR 150 YEARS HAS BEEN REPUBLICAN WENT DEMOCRATIC. 150 YEARS. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SEE WHAT'S GOING ON IN THIS CONGRESS. IN ADDITION TO UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION EXTENSION BEING HELD UP THAT IS PAID FOR -- NOT A PENNY OF TAXPAYER'S MONEY IS BEING BORROWED -- REPUBLICANS ARE STANDING IN THE WAY OF GIVING BUSINESSES A TAX BREAK. THIS LEGISLATION, WHEN WE PASS IT, WILL ALLOW BUSINESSES, BIG BUSINESSES AND LITTLE BUSINESSES, TO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION A TAX BREAK. IF THEY'VE LOST MONEY IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, THEY CAN GET A TAX BREAK. AND THAT IS CARRY IT FORWARD SO THAT THEY DON'T, THEY DON'T HAVE -- THEY BENEFIT FROM THE LOSS. IF THEY MAKE SOME MONEY, THEY CAN SET IT OFF AGAINST THE MONEY THEY MADE AS A RESULT OF THE LOSSES THAT THEY'VE BEEN GOING THROUGH. WE'RE TRYING TO HELP BUSINESSES, ESPECIALLY SMALL BUSINESSES, COMPENSATE FOR THE LOSSES THEY'VE ENDURED IN RECENT YEARS. AGAIN, REPUBLICANS ARE IN NO RUSH TO HELP THEM. EACH DAY THAT GOES BY IS A REAL HURT TO SMALL BUSINESSES. BUT ON THE GOOD NEWS, MR. PRESIDENT, WE'RE MAKING PROGRESS ON HEALTH REFORM. WE LOOK FORWARD TO RECEIVING IN A MATTER OF DAYS IN THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE ANALYSIS OF THE PROPOSALS FOR FIXING OUR HEALTH SYSTEM THAT IS SO BROKEN. WE ONLY HAVE ONE WEEK BEFORE VETERANS DAY -- NOVEMBER 11. ONE WEEK BEFORE THE THANKSGIVING RECESS AFTER THAT. THEN ONLY THRAOEP AND A HALF WEEKS -- ONLY THREE AND A HALF WEEKS UNTIL CHRISTMAS. AND WE HAVE THIS UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE STALLED BECAUSE OF THE REPUBLICANS. MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, WE'RE TRYING TO GET THIS DONE TO ALLOW FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF MILITARY BASES AROUND AMERICA AND AROUND THE WORLD THAT WE HAVE INSTALLATIONS. COMMERCE-JUSTICE-SCIENCE, AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF LEGISLATION. STALLED FOR WEEKS. AND IT'S INTERESTING, MR. PRESIDENT, WE HEAR THE REPUBLICANS COME TO THE FLOOR -- I HEARD ONE OF THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE STATEMENTS YESTERDAY. SENATOR STABENOW WAS OVER THERE, AND SHE HAD A CHART THAT SHOWED FOR 85 TIMES THIS YEAR THE REPUBLICANS HAVE STOPPED THINGS. EITHER EFFORTS TO MOVE FORWARD ON A BILL OR ALMOST 60 TIMES WE'VE HAD TO INVOKE CLOTURE VOTE TO STOP -- WE'VE HAD TO INVOKE CLOTURE TO STOP FILIBUSTERS. A REPUBLICAN SAID EVERY ONE OF THOSE 85 WAS A RESULT OF OUR NOT BEING ALLOWED TO OFFER AMENDMENTS. THAT DOESN'T PASS TEST OF A KINDERGARTNER, MR. PRESIDENT. A NUMBER OF THE THINGS THEY HELD UP ARE NOMINATIONS. WE HAVE SCORES OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S NOMINATIONS HELD UP HERE. SCORES OF THEM. AND WITH THE COMMERCE-JUSTICE-SCIENCE, THEY SAY THEY HAVE NO AMENDMENTS. INTERESTING, THEY HAVE FIVE AMENDMENTS HAVE BEEN FILED, AND AS SOON AS WE GET CLOTURE ON THE BILL, THEY'LL BE ABLE TO DEBATE THOSE AMENDMENTS AND HAVE A VOTE ON THEM. BUT, NO, THAT WASN'T ENOUGH AMENDMENTS. MAYBE ON THAT ONE, I SAY TO MY FRIEND FROM ILLINOIS, MAYBE THEY NEEDED ANOTHER ACORN AMENDMENT, BECAUSE THEY ONLY HAD ONE IN ORDER HERE. MAYBE THEY NEEDED A COUPLE OF THEM TO SATISFY THEM. THAT WOULD HAVE, I THINK, ADDED UP TO FIVE OR SIX. MAYBE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN SOMETHING THAT WOULD EMPLOYEES THEM, ANOTHER ACORN QUESTION.

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  • 09:39:43 AM

    MR. DURBIN

    I'D BE HAPPY TO.

  • 09:39:46 AM

    MR. REID

    TO.

  • 09:39:47 AM

    MR. DURBIN

    BEEN A FULL TWO WEEKS SINCE WE HAD AN ACORN AMENDMENT ON THE FLOOR.…

    BEEN A FULL TWO WEEKS SINCE WE HAD AN ACORN AMENDMENT ON THE FLOOR. CLEARLY IT'S TIME TO MOVE TO ONE OF THE HIGHEST PRIORITIES THE REPUBLICANS SEE ON THE NATION. I WONDER IF WE OUGHT TO CONSIDER MORE ACORN AMENDMENTS IN THE HOPES OF MOVING LEGISLATION.

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  • 09:40:00 AM

    MR. REID

    WE SHOULD HAVE AGREED TO A COUPLE MORE ACORN AMENDMENTS. FOR THOSE WHO…

    WE SHOULD HAVE AGREED TO A COUPLE MORE ACORN AMENDMENTS. FOR THOSE WHO AREN'T QUITE FOLLOWING US, IT'S NOT THE THINGS THAT FALL OFF A TREE. IT IS AN ORGANIZATION THAT AROUND THE COUNTRY HAS DONE SOME TREMENDOUSLY GOOD WORK. NOW, I ACKNOWLEDGE -- AND THAT POSTS WHY I AGREE -- THAT'S WHY I AGREE WITH MY FRIEND FROM ILLINOIS WHO CALLED FOR A COMPLETE INVESTIGATION OF ACORN. WE AGREE. IF THEY HAVE DONE SOME THINGS THAT AREN'T RIGHT, THEY SHOULD BE BROUGHT BEFORE THE NECESSARY TRIBUNALS OR ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCIES AND TAKE A LOOK AT IT. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. WE RECOGNIZED THAT ACORN IS NOT A PERFECT ORGANIZATION. BUT HOW MUCH TIME DO WE NEED TO SPEND ON IT? I WOULD ALSO SAY WITH THE NOMINATIONS, HERE ARE THINGS, WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO BEFORE WE HAVE OUR MEMORIAL -- I'M SORRY -- VETERANS DAY BREAK. WE'RE GOING TO FINISH THE UNEMPLOYMENT THING TOGETHER WITH THE, WHAT'S TIED TO IT, FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS. NET OPERATING LOSS, WE'RE GOING TO FINISH THAT. WE'RE GOING TO DO MILITARY CONSTRUCTION. WE'RE GOING TO FINISH COMMERCE-JUSTICE-SCIENCE. AND WE'RE GOING TO DO NOMINATIONS. WE'RE GOING TO DO JUDGE DAVID HAMILTON, SEVENTH CIRCUIT. HE'S BEEN WAITING SINCE APRIL, WAITING SINCE APRIL. WE'VE AGREED TO TIME AGREEMENTS. YOU WANT AN HOUR, TWO HOURS, FIVE HOURS, TEN HOURS OF DEBATE? NO. WE DON'T WANT ANYTHING. UP-OR-DOWN VOTE. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, ONE OF THE KEY OFFICIALS THERE HAS BEEN HELD UP FOR MONTHS. DAVID SCHROEDER. WE'RE GOING TO ALSO COMPLETE TARA O'TOOLE. HERE IS ONE OF THE MOST COMPLETELY QUALIFIED WOMEN IN AMERICA TO SERVE AS SCIENCE ADVISOR TO SECRETARY NAPOLITANO. HER EXPERTISE IS IN A NUMBER OF AREAS. BIOTERRORISM. SHE'S WRITTEN SCORES OF ARTICLES. SHE'S ALSO AN EXPERT IN PANDEMICS. JANET NAPOLITANO, THE SECRETARY, CALLED ME AND SAID I AM DESPERATE FOR THIS WOMAN TO COME AND WORK FOR ME. THE COUNTRY IS NOT CAPABLE OF DOING ALL THE THINGS THAT NEED TO BE DONE AS A RESULT OF NOT HAVING THIS JOB FILLED. AGAIN, THEY WON'T LET US VOTE ON HER. WE'LL TAKE A TIME AGREEMENT. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT, WE'LL SPEND TWO DAYS DEBATING IF WE CAN GET A VOTE ON IT. BUT THAT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH. NO TIME IS U.S. THEY JUST WANT TO STALL. HIGHWAY EXTENSION, WE'D LOVE TO GET A HIGHWAY EXTENSION DONE. SIX MONTHS, SO WE CAN MEET THE DEMANDS OF THE WINTERS HERE IN AMERICA, SO CONSTRUCTION CAN GO FORWARD. SO, MR. PRESIDENT, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SEE WHAT IS TAKING PLACE HERE. IT'S SO OBVIOUS, AND IT'S NOT CONSTRUCTIVE.

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  • 09:43:14 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE LEADERSHIP TIME IS RESERVED. UNDER THE…

    UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE LEADERSHIP TIME IS RESERVED. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THERE WILL NOW BE A PERIOD OF MORNING BUSINESS FOR TWO HOURS WITH SENATORS PERMITTED TO SPEAK THEREIN FOR UP TO TEN MINUTES EACH. WITH THE TIME EQUALLY DIVIDED AND CONTROLLED BETWEEN THE TWO LEADERS OR THEIR DESIGNEES, WITH THE REPUBLICANS CONTROLLING THE FIRST HALF AND THE MAJORITY CONTROLLING THE FINAL HALF.

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  • 09:43:53 AM

    MR. JOHANNS

    THE SENATOR FROM NEBRASKA.

  • 09:43:54 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM NEBRASKA.

  • 09:43:55 AM

    MR. JOHANNS

    MR. PRESIDENT, THANK YOU. I RISE TODAY, MR. PRESIDENT, TO SPEAK ABOUT…

    MR. PRESIDENT, THANK YOU. I RISE TODAY, MR. PRESIDENT, TO SPEAK ABOUT HEALTH CARE. AND I WANT TO FOCUS MY COMMENTS TODAY, IF I COULD, ON SPECIFICALLY THE MEDICARE CUTS, THE IMPACT THAT THAT WILL HAVE ACROSS THIS GREAT NATION. AND ALSO I'D LIKE TO ZERO IN, IF I COULD, ON WHAT THOSE MEDICARE CUTS MEAN FOR MY HOME STATE, THE GREAT STATE OF NEBRASKA. MEDICARE IS A PROGRAM THAT IS A SOURCE OF HEALTH CARE FOR ABOUT 45 MILLION AMERICANS. AS WE ALL KNOW, IT'S ESSENTIALLY A PROGRAM FOR THOSE 65 AND OLDER. IT DATES BACK A LOT OF YEARS. IN MY STATE, THE STATE OF NEBRASKA, THERE ARE 272,000 NEBRASKANS WHO ARE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES. AND AS I HAVE TALKED TO THEM AND I'VE DONE TOWN HALL MEETINGS AND ROUND TABLES ALL AROUND THE STATE, THEY ARE PLEASED WITH THE HEALTH CARE THEY RECEIVE. IF THEY GET SICK, THEY HAVE THIS PROGRAM, THIS MEDICARE PROGRAM THAT IS THERE FOR THEM. I WANT TO JUST START OUT AND SAY, MR. PRESIDENT, THAT I REALLY BELIEVE THAT THE CURRENT PLAN WHICH CUTS MEDICARE, WHICH CLAIMS REFORM, IS REALLY OFF BASE WITH THIS POPULATION. THE -- THE PROGRAM -- OR THE PROPOSAL SAYS THAT MEDICARE WILL BE CUT BY OVER $400 BILLION. LET ME, IF I MIGHT, JUST WALK DOWN THROUGH THE VARIOUS PROGRAMS THAT WILL BE IMPACTED WITHIN MEDICARE. THERE WILL BE $130 BILLION CUT FOR THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAM. NOW, IF ANYBODY HAS SPENT ANY TIME TALKING TO SENIOR CITIZENS ABOUT MEDICARE ADVANTAGE, THEY WILL TELL YOU THEY LIKE THIS PROGRAM. $45 BILLION WILL BE CUT FROM HOSPITALS THAT CARE FOR RECIPIENTS OF MEDICARE. $40 BILLION WILL BE CUT FROM HOME HEALTH AGENCIES. $14.6 BILLION WILL BE CUT FROM SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES AND NEARLY $8 BILLION WILL BE CUT FROM HOSPICE PROGRAMS. I WOULD SUGGEST, VERY RESPECTFULLY, THAT THIS HEALTH CARE REFORM, WHICH WILL CUT MEDICARE BY OVER $400 BILLION IS NOT AN IMPROVEMENT. THESE CUTS ULTIMATELY WILL COMPROMISE THE ABILITY OF MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES TO ACCESS THE CARE THAT THEY NEED. NOW, IF I COULD SPEND A MOMENT THIS MORNING TO TALK JUST VERY QUICKLY ABOUT THE PROFOUND IMPACTS THIS WILL HAVE IN NEBRASKA. THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAM, AS I SAID, WILL -- WILL BE IMPACTED BY ABOUT $130 BILLION CUT. NATIONALLY THERE ARE 11 MILLION SENIORS ENROLLED. ONE DEMOCRAT SENATOR DESCRIBED THESE CUTS AS -- QUOTE -- "INTOLERABLE." I AGREE WITH THAT. 35,000 NEBRASKANS HAVE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAMS. THE PLANS PROVIDE CHOICE AND OPTIONS THAT PEOPLE LIKE. NOW, THE PRESIDENT SAID, AND I'M QUOTING, QUOTE IF YOU LIKE YOUR PLAN, YOU CAN KEEP IT. UNQUOTE. RELATIVE TO THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE BENEFICIARIES, HE SAID THAT YOU WILL GET -- QUOTE -- "A PLAN THAT IS JUST AS GOOD." UNQUOTE. NOW, THE FINANCE COMMITTEE MARKUP WAS VERY INSTRUCTIVE ON THIS ISSUE. THE C.B.O. DIRECTOR STATED THAT THOSE PEOPLE WHO HAVE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE -- QUOTE -- "WILL SEE CHANGES IN REDUCTIONS IN THEIR BENEFITS." UNQUOTE. LET ME TURN TO HOSPITALS. THE NEWS IS NO BETTER WITH HOSPITALS. HOSPITALS THAT SERVE LARGE NUMBERS OF SENIORS AND THE POOR WILL HAVE REDUCED PAYMENTS. THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS ACTUALLY UNDERPAY FOR THESE SERVICES. HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR AFTER HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATOR HAS TOLD ME IN MY STATE WE COULD NOT KEEP OUR HOSPITAL OPEN ON MEDICARE AND MEDICAID. THEY NEED THE ADDITIONAL PAYMENTS THEY GET FROM PRIVATE INSURANCE TO KEEPT DOORS OPEN. YET, THE SO-CALLED REFORM BILL CUTS NEBRASKA HOSPITALS BY ABOUT ABOUT $142 MILLION. 36% OF NEBRASKA HOSPITALS WILL BE AFFECTED. RELATIVE TO HOME HEALTH CARE, CARE, $40 BILLION CUT NATIONALLY. SENIORS RECEIVING CARE IN HOME INSTEAD OF GOING TO A NURSING HOME, THAT'S WHAT THIS PROGRAM IS ALL ABOUT. UNDER THE -- QUOTE -- "REFORM" UNQUOTE, NEBRASKA HOME HEALTH CARE WILL LOSE $136 MILLION OVER 10 YEARS. BY 2016 TWO-THIRDS OF NEBRASKA HOME HEALTH AGENCIES WILL BE IN THE RED. IT'S ESPECIALLY DEVASTATING TO RURAL AREAS WHERE 80% ARE EXPECTED TO LOSE MONEY UNDER THIS REFORM PLAN. IT'S HARD TO KEEPT INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE RIGHT NOW -- KEEP THE INFRASTRUCTURE IN PLACE RIGHT NOW MUCH LESS TO LOOK AT WHAT'S COMING. A SMALL -- A HOME HEALTH DIRECTOR SAID TO ME AND I'M QUOTING, "NEBRASKANS ARE A TOUGH AND CONVICTED PEOPLE. WE HAVE CHOSEN TO LIVE IN A MORE RURAL ENVIRONMENT AND RESPECT THE FACT THAT NOT ALL SERVICES CAN BE PROVIDED. HOWEVER, THERE ARE TWO REGISTERED NURSES THAT PROVIDE HOME HEALTH SERVICES FOR SEVEN COUNTIES. OUR RADIUS TO SEE PATIENTS IS 100 MILES ONE WAY. IF A CITIZEN WAS SICK OR INJURED, THEY MAY HAVE TO TRAVEL 100 MILES TO SEE A DOCTOR. IF THEY ARE UNABLE TO TRAVEL, THEY WOULD JUST NOT RECEIVE THE CARE THEY NEED. YOU SEE, MR. PRESIDENT, HOME HEALTH CARE IS NOT A CONVENIENCE IN OUR STATE. IT'S A NECESSITY. CUTS WILL LIKELY CAUSE THEM TO CLOSE THAT OPERATION DOWN AND QUIT PROVIDING THE SERVICES. IF THE MISSION WAS TO IMPROVE ACCESS, HOW DOES THAT DO THAT? NOW, SKILLED NURSING CARE IS ANOTHER AREA WHERE IT'S TARGETED FOR $14.6 BILLION IN CUTS. SKILLED NURSING FACILITY REGISTERED NURSES WHO HELP PROVIDE 24-HOUR CARE TO PEOPLE WHO CAN NO LONGER CARE FOR THEMSELVES. PEOPLE DEPEND UPON THEM FOR BOTH SHORT AND LONG-TERM CARE. WHAT'S THE IMPACT IN NEBRASKA? $93.2 MILLION. THIS DOLLAR FIGURE DOESN'T TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE JOB LOSS AND FINANCIAL IMPACT ON LOCAL COMMUNITIES. I'LL MENTION A FACILITY -- A GREAT FACILITY, LIKE ALL FACILITIES IN NEBRASKA, FULLERTON, GOLDEN HOME LIVING CENTER, THAT'S A POPULATION IN THAT COMMUNITY OF 1,300 PEOPLE. THE NURSING HOME IS THE SECOND LARGEST EMPLOYER. THEY HAVE A $1.5 MILLION PAYROLL. HOWEVER, THEY ARE ALREADY STRUGGLING TO TRY TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO STAY OPEN, MUCH LESS, FACING THESE CUTS. THE HOSPICE PROGRAM, $8 BILLION IN CUTS NATIONALLY. HOSPICE PROVIDES DIGNITY AND COMFORT TO SENIORS AT THE END OF THEIR LIFE. THIS REFORM NEARLY 12% REDUCTION IN HOSPICE REIMBURSEMENTS OVER THE NEXT DECADE. WE HAVE 38 LICENSED HOSPICE PROGRAMS IN OUR STATE. WE'RE SO PROUD OF THEM. CURRENTLY 97% OF NEBRASKANS HAVE ACCESS TO AT LEAST A HOSPICE PROGRAM. THE CUTS, I BELIEVE, WILL NEGATIVELY IMPACT THE CARE OF DYING NEBRASKANS. YOU KNOW, LET ME WRAP-UP WITH THIS, MR. PRESIDENT. EVERY STUDY THAT'S OUT THERE SAYS MEDICARE IS HEADING TOWARD INSOLVENCY. 2017 IS THE DATE MOST OFTEN USED. HOW DO WE KEEP MEDICARE VIABLE? CUTTING MEDICARE TO FUND A NEW ENTITLEMENT, I WOULD JUST RESPECTFULLY SUGGEST, IS SO MISGUIDED. UNFORTUNATELY, THAT'S THE DETERMINED EFFORT OF THIS REFORM PLAN. WE CAN DO BETTER. WE MUST DO BETTER. NEBRASKANS ARE WATCHING. AMERICANS ARE WATCHING. WE HAVE TO IMPROVE UPON WHAT WE ARE DOING HERE. WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO SAY TO THOSE WHO ARE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES, WE PROTECTED MEDICARE. YOU ARE FIRST AND FOREMOST IN OUR MIND. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I YIELD THE FLOOR AND I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 09:53:05 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL: A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 09:54:14 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM IDAHO. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS…

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM IDAHO. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO SPEAK AS IF IN MORNING BUSINESS. A SENATOR: WE ARE CURRENTLY UNDER A QUORUM CALL. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE QUORUM CALL BE LIFTED.

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  • 09:54:28 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 09:54:32 AM

    MR. CRAPO

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 09:54:34 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 09:54:36 AM

    MR. CRAPO

    TO SPEAK ABOUT MEDICARE ALSO IN CONTEXT OF THE PROPOSED HEALTH CARE REFORM…

    TO SPEAK ABOUT MEDICARE ALSO IN CONTEXT OF THE PROPOSED HEALTH CARE REFORM THAT WE'RE DEALING WITH NEAR THE SENATE. THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST TROUBLING ASPECT OF THE HEALTH CARE REFORM PROPOSALS CONSIDERED IN THE CONGRESS, THE MASSIVE CUTS TO MEDICARE THAT WILL TOTAL UNDER THE LEGISLATION THAT CAME OUT OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE, AT LEAST, $500 BILLION IN CUTS AND SIMILAR LEVELS OF CUTS ARE INCLUDED IN ALL OF THE MAJOR LEGISLATION BEING MOVED AT THIS POINT. IN THIS TIME OF ECONOMIC DOWNTURN ALL AMERICANS MUST LOOK TO THEIR BUDGETS AND TO THEIR OWN SPENDING VERY CAREFULLY. THE SAME IS TRUE FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. AND SOME WILL ARGUE THAT THESE MEDICARE CUTS ARE NECESSARY FOR FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY. AND THAT EVERYBODY MUST PLAY A PART. OTHERS ARE GOING TO ARGUE THAT MEDICARE IS FACING INSOLVENCY IN 2017 AND THAT THESE CUTS ARE NECESSARY TO SLOW THE GROWTH OF MEDICARE SPENDING. IN FACT, THE 2009 TRUSTEES REPORT SHOWS THAT MEDICARE'S ANNUAL COSTS WERE 3.2% OF THE GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT OF THE UNITED STATES IN 2008. TO GIVE A LITTLE BIT OF CONTEXT THERE, THAT'S ABOUT THREE-QUARTERS OF SOCIAL SECURITY'S COSTS. THESE COSTS ARE PROJECTED TO SURPASS SOCIAL SECURITY EXPENDITURES IN 2028 AND REACH 11.4% OF G.D.P. BY 2083. THE UNFUNDED OBLIGATION OF THE MEDICARE HOSPITAL TRUST FUND IS $13.4 TRILLION. WHICH IS $1 TRILLION HIGHER THAN EVEN LAST YEAR'S ESTIMATE. AND MEDICARE'S TOTAL UNFUNDED OBLIGATIONS THAT INCLUDE PART-B AND PART-D PROGRAMS INCLUDE INCLUDE $28.7 BILLION. WE NEED TO ADDRESS THE INSOLVENCY WITH MEDICARE. WE MUST ADDRESS IT LET'S BE CLEAR ABOUT ONE THING. THESE PROPOSALS AND THESE HEALTH CARE BILLS DO NOT STRENGTHEN THE SOLVENCY OF THE MEDICARE PROGRAM. CAN WE PUT UP THE CHART, PLEASE. THESE CUTS ACCOMPLISH ONE SIMPLE GOAL. THAT IS, THEY TAKE MONEY FROM THE MEDICARE PROGRAM IN ORDER TO USE IT TO CREATE A NEW ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM. THE PROGRAM IS CREATED AT THE EXPENSE OF AMERICA'S SENIORS. WE'RE NOT SHORING UP MEDICARE FOR AMERICA'S SENIORS WITH THESE BILLS. WE'RE TRANSFERRING DZ 500 BILLION OUT OF THE MEDICARE PROGRAMS -- $500 BILLION OUT OF THE MEDICARE PROGRAMS INTO A NEW GOVERNMENT ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM. A RECENT ARTICLE DESCRIBED IT LIKE THIS, LET'S IMAGINE THAT MEDICARE IS YOUR FAMILY'S OVERALL BUDGET. AND YOU'VE LIVED BEYOND YOUR MEANS AND YOU'VE RUN UP A HUGE DEBT. IN ORDER TO DEAL WITH THIS NEW DEBT, YOUR FAMILY THINKS OF CREATIVE WAYS TO CUT SPENDING AND REDUCE EXPENSES AND PUT SOME OF YOUR SAVINGS ASIDE IN ORDER TO CATCH UP. THEN, THOUGH, YOU SEE WITH ALL OF THIS CASH THAT YOU'VE SAVED UP THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO FIND -- GO OUT AN BUY A BRAND-NEW CAR. AND SO INSTEAD OF USING THE CASH TO HELP PAY OFF YOUR DEBTS AN YOUR OBLIGATIONS AND SHORE UP YOUR FINANCIAL CIRCUMSTANCES, YOU TAKE THIS CASH AND YOU GO OUT AN SPEND IT ON A BRAND-NEW CAR. IN THIS CASE A GOVERNMENT-RUN CAR. THIS IS WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH THE MEDICARE SYSTEM IN THE BILLS BEFORE US. THESE CUTS DAMAGE AN EXISTING ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM IN ORDER TO CREATE A NEW ONE HARMING AMERICA'S SENIORS ALONG THE WAY. THEY'RE GOING TO NEGATIVELY IMPACT CHOICE, ACCESS, BENEFITS, AND QUALITY OF CARE. WHEN AMERICANS SAID THAT THEY WANTED CHANGE, I DON'T THINK THIS IS WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT. LET'S TALK ABOUT A FEW SPECIFICS. AMONG THE LARGEST CUTS TO THE MEDICARE PROGRAM ARE THE THE $117 BILLION IN CUTS TO THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAM. CURRENTLY THERE ARE NEARLY 11 MILLION SENIORS ENROLLED IN MEDICARE ADVANTAGE, WHICH REPRESENTS ABOUT ONE OUT OF EVERY FOUR MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES. IN MY HOME STATE OF IDAHO, THERE ARE MORE THAN 60,000 MEDICARE ADVANTAGE BENEFICIARIES OR 27% OF THE MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES IN THE STATE. SINCE THE CREATION OF THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAM IN 2003, OVERALL ENROLLMENT IN PRIVATE PLANS HAS BEEN STEADILY INCREASING AND BENEFICIARIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY HAVE HAD MORE PRIVATE PLANS TO CHOOSE FROM THAN THEY DID 10 YEARS AGO. A 2007 STUDY REPORTED HIGH OVERALL SATISFACTION WITH THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAM. 4% OF RESPONDENTS SAID THAT THEY WERE HAPPY WITH THEIR COVERAGE AND 75% WOULD RECOMMEND MEDICARE ADVANTAGE TO THEIR FRIENDS OR FAMILY MEMBERS. ACCORDING TO THE CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE AS OF JANUARY 2009, ALL MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY HAD ACCESS TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLANS, ALONG WITH TRADITIONAL MEDICARE PLANS. THE CHOICE IS PARTICULARLY CRUCIAL IN RURAL AREAS. BETWEEN 2003 AND 2007, MORE THAN 600,000 BENEFICIARIES IN RURAL AREAS JOINED THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAM, WHICH IS A 426% INCREASE. THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE CUTS PROPOSED IN THE FINANCE BILL WILL FORCE PLANS TO CUT BENEFITS, INCREASE PREMIUMS, OR DROP COVERAGE UP A TOGETHER. IN FACT, C.B.O. ESTIMATES THAT ENROLLMENT IN MEDICARE ADVANTAGE WILL DECREASE BY 2.7 BILLION PEOPLE BY 2019, RESULTING FROM THE CHANGES IN THIS PROPOSED LEGISLATION. THIS NUMB -- THIS NUMBER REPRESENTS NOT ONLY PEOPLE WHO WOULD LOSE THEIR PLAN BUT ALSO THOSE WHO WOULD NO LONGER BE ABLE TO CHOOSE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE BECAUSE OF THE DECREASE IN BENEFITS. C.B.O. ESTIMATES THE VALUE OFFERED BY EXTRA BENEFITS WILL DROP TO $42 A MONTH. WHEN WE WERE IN THE FINANCE COMMITTEE MARK JUMP, I ASKED C.B.O. DIRECTOR -- MARKUP, I ASKED C.B.O. DIRECTOR ELMENDORF TO CONFIRM THIS POINT. APPROXIMATELY HALF OF THE ADDITIONAL BENEFIT WOULD BE LOST TO THOSE CURRENT MEDICARE ADVANTAGE POLICYHOLDERS. HIS RESPONSE WAS, "FOR THOSE WHO WOULD BE ENROLLED OTHERWISE UNDER CURRENT LAW, YES." THE POINT HERE IS THAT THE KPHAEUFRBG CUTS IN THE FINANCE BILL -- MEDICARE ADVANTAGE CUTS IN THE FINANCE BILL WILL BREAK THE PRESIDENT'S PLEDGE IF YOU LIKE THE PROTECTION YOU HAVE, YOU CAN KEEP IT. EVEN IF SOME SENIORS ON MEDICARE ADVANTAGE ARE ABLE TO KEEP THEIR PLANS, THEY'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO ENJOY THE SAME LEVEL OF BENEFITS THEY ENJOY TODAY. DURING THE MARKUP I OFFERED AN AMENDMENT THAT WOULD PROHIBIT THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE'S PROVISIONS IF THEIR IMPLEMENTATION WOULD DECREASE CHOICE AND COMPETITION FOR SENIORS IN MEDICARE. VERY SIMPLE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD. THE AMENDMENT WAS DEFEATED ON A STRAIGHT PARTY-LINE VOTE. MANY CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS ARGUE THAT BY DEFENDING MEDICARE ADVANTAGE, YOU'RE ACTUALLY DEFENDING OVERPAYMENTS TO INSURANCE COMPANIES. THAT'S NOT TRUE EITHER. MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLANS ARE PAID 14% MORE ON AVERAGE THAN TRADITIONAL MEDICARE FEE-FOR-SERVICE. HOWEVER, THESE OVERPAYMENTS OR ALLEGED OVERPAYMENTS DON'T GO INTO THE PLANS. THEY GO TO THE SENIORS ENROLLED IN THE PLANS IN THE FORM OF EXTRA BENEFITS. THAT'S WHY MEDICARE ADVANTAGE IS SO POPULAR AMONG SENIORS. 75% OF THE ADDITIONAL PAYMENTS TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE ARE USED TO PROVIDE SENIORS WITH ADDITIONAL BENEFITS. BENEFITS LIKE DENTAL COVERAGE OR VISION COVERAGE OR PREVENTIVE MEDICINE OR FLU SHOTS OR HEARING AIDS. AND THE REMAINING 25% IS RETURNED TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SO THE CUTS TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE WILL REDUCE BENEFITS AND WILL DEPRIVE SENIORS OF CHOICE. BUT THAT'S NOT THE ONLY KIND OF CUTS THAT WE HAVE COMING TO MEDICARE. IN ADDITION TO THE CUTS TO THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAM, THE FINANCE COMMITTEE BILL ALSO CONTAINS MASSIVE CUTS TO OTHER MEDICARE PROVIDERS. IT CONTAINS $40 BILLION OF CUTS TO HOME HEALTH AGENCIES. THERE ARE NEARLY $8 BILLION OF CUTS TO HOSPICE AND MORE THAN $16 BILLION OF CUTS TO SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES. THESE LEVELS OF CUTS WILL BE DEVASTATING FOR PROVIDERS AND WILL THREATEN ACCESS AS WELL AS MORE AND MORE PROVIDERS WILL NOT TAKE MEDICARE PATIENTS. IT WILL BE HARDER AND HARDER FOR BENEFICIARIES TO FIND CARE. I SPOKE RECENTLY TO GARY TETON, PRESIDENT AND OWNER OF THE IDAHO HOSPICE JUST LAST WEEK ABOUT THE IMPACT OF THE IMPACT OF MEDICARE CUTS ON HOME HEALTH AND HOSPICE. HE DESCRIBED TO ME HOW BAD THE FISCAL SITUATION HAS BECOME FOR HOME HEALTH HOSPICE AND OTHER MEDICARE PROVIDERS IN IDAHO. IDAHO LOST NEARLY 30% OF ITS HOME HEALTH PROVIDERS IN 1988 AND 1989, INCLUDING THE STATE'S LARGER PROVIDER. THE PROVIDERS THAT ARE STILL IN BUSINESS IN MY HOME STATE ARE WORKING UNDER THE SAME MEDICARE REIMBURSEMENT LEVELS THAT THEY RECEIVED IN 2001, EIGHT YEARS AGO. IF THE CUTS FROM THE FINANCE BILL WENT INTO EFFECT ON TOP OF THE CURRENT REIMBURSEMENT ISSUES, THE SITUATION WOULD GET SIGNIFICANTLY WORSE FOR MANY PROVIDERS. AND THE NET RESULT, AGAIN, WOULD BE A LOSS OF PROVIDERS, A LOSS OF OPTIONS, AND A LOSS OF SERVICES TO OUR SENIORS. COSTS HAVE GONE UP CONSIDERABLY DUE TO THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN AND RURAL IDAHO IS BEING HIT THE HARDEST. GARY COMPARED THE TIT FARMERS IN IDAHO. MOST FARMERS DON'T GROW JUST ONE CROP. SIMILARLY, HOME HEALTH AGENCIES DON'T PROVIDE JUST ONE SERVICE. THEY PROVIDE HOSPICE AND PRIVATE DUTY CARE ALONG WITH MEDICAL SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENT. ALL OF THESE SERVICES ARE GOING TO SUFFER BECAUSE OF THE HOME HEALTH AND HOSPICE CUTS. THESE PROPOSED CUTS WILL NOT JUST AFFECT PROVIDERS IN MY HOME STATE. THEY WILL AFFECT MEDICARE PROVIDERS IN EVERY STATE AROUND THE COUNTRY, PARTICULARLY RURAL STATES WHICH ALREADY FACE SIGNIFICANT PROVIDER ACCESS PROBLEMS. AT SOME POINT PROVIDERS WILL NO LONGER BE ABLE TO GIVE THE BEST CARE OR ANY CARE, FOR THAT MATTER, TO MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES. AND AS I INDICATED EARLIER, WE'VE ALREADY SEEN THE TREND START OF THOSE MEDICAL SERVICE PROVIDERS WHO SIMPLY CAN'T AFFORD TO TAKE MEDICARE PATIENTS. I'VE LONG SUPPORTED POLICIES THAT INCREASE ACCESS TO HIGH-QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE FOR ALL AMERICANS AND PROVIDE FOR FAIR REIMBURSEMENTS TO PROVIDERS OF THE MEDICAL SERVICES RENDERED. HOWEVER, THE TYPES OF BLUNT ACROSS THE BOARD CUTS WE SEE IN THESE PROPOSED BILLS WILL RESULT ONLY IN INCREASED HARM TO PROVIDERS AND TO MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES AROUND THE COUNTRY. MR. PRESIDENT, IT IS MY HOPE THAT AS WE FACE THESE DIFFICULT TIMES IN DEALING WITH NEEDED HEALTH CARE REFORM, THAT WE WILL NOT CUT IT -- TAKE THE CUTS OUT OF THE MEDICARE PROGRAM THAT ARE PROPOSED IN THIS LEGISLATION. SPECIFICALLY, AND IMPORTANTLY, IT'S CRITICAL THAT WE NOT CUT OUR MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES' SERVICES IN ORDER TO SIMPLY FUND A NEW MASSIVE GOVERNMENT ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM. WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 10:06:21 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR'S TIME IS EXPIRED. THE REPUBLICAN LEADER IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 10:06:29 AM

    MR. McCONNELL

    THE SENATOR HAS THE RIGHT, WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 10:06:31 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR HAS THE RIGHT, WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 10:06:35 AM

    MR. McCONNELL

    THE SENATOR FROM FLORIDA IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 10:12:10 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM FLORIDA IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 10:12:13 AM

    MR. LeMIEUX

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 10:20:13 AM

    MR. ALEXANDER

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 10:20:14 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 10:20:17 AM

    MR. ALEXANDER

    MR. PRESIDENT, I THANK THE SENATOR FROM FLORIDA FOR HIS INSIGHTFUL REMARKS…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I THANK THE SENATOR FROM FLORIDA FOR HIS INSIGHTFUL REMARKS AND I LISTENED WITH INTEREST TO THE REPUBLICAN LEADER DESCRIBE THE -- THE CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS' BILL, WHICH IS NOW ABOUT 2,000 PAGES. WE KNOW WE DON'T HAVE A SENATE BILL YET. IT'S BEING WRITTEN BEHIND CLOSED DOORS SOMEWHERE, I THINK IN THE MAJORITY LEADER'S OFFICER. WE'RE NOT SURE WHO IS WRITING IT, WE'LL HAVE IT SOONER OR LATER. WE DO KNOW SOME THINGS ABOUT THE HEALTH CARE BILLS. AND TODAY WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO TALK ABOUT IS JUST ONE OF THOSE THINGS, AND THEN I WANT TO SUGGEST WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PLAN IS. BECAUSE WE HAVE A VERY DIFFERENT APPROACH TOWARD DEALING WITH HEALTH CARE THAN THE DEMOCRATIC BILLS THAT WE'VE SEEN. TODAY I WANT TO TALK ABOUT MEDICARE. MEDICARE IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ABOUT 40 MILLION AMERICANS AND TO A LOT OF OTHER AMERICANS WHO ARE ABOUT TO BE OF THE AGE TO DEPEND ON MEDICARE. AND TO GET -- TO GET IT DOWN TO A NUTSHELL, HERE IS WHAT ALL OF THE PLANS THAT WE'VE SEEN SO FAR FROM THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE PROPOSED TO DO TO TAKE ABOUT ABOUT $429 BILLION OVER 10 YEARS FROM MEDICARE, IN OTHER WORDS CUT MEDICARE BY $429 BILLION, NOT TO PUT IN THE MEDICARE PROGRAM TO MAKE IT MORE SOLVENT, BUT TO START A BIG, NEW ENTITLEMENT PROGRAM CALLED A GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH INSURANCE FOR OTHER PEOPLE. SO WE HEAR FROM THE OTHER SIDE, WELL, THE REPUBLICANS ARE SCARING PEOPLE ABOUT MEDICARE. MR. PRESIDENT, THE REPUBLICANS AREN'T SCARING ANYBODY ABOUT MEDICARE. IT'S THESE DEMOCRATIC BILLS THAT ARE SCARING PEOPLE ABOUT MEDICARE AND THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO BE WORRIED ABOUT IT. BECAUSE THE MEDICARE TRUSTEES HAVE TOLD US THAT THIS PROGRAM THAT 40 MILLION SENIORS DEPEND ON IS GOING TO BECOME INSOLVENT BETWEEN 2015 AND 2017. THAT AFFECTS THE 40 MILLION OF US WHO ARE ALREADY ELIGIBLE AND A PART OF MEDICARE AND IT AFFECTS TENS OF MILLIONS MORE WHO WILL BE COMING ELIGIBLE FOR IT. AND THE IDEA WOULD BE -- IF THESE BILLS ARE PASSED -- TO PAY FOR NEW PROGRAMS BY CUTTING THAT THAT $429 BILLION FROM THIS PROGRAM THAT'S GOING BROKE. THE SENATOR FROM KANSAS, SENATOR BROWNBACK, DESCRIBED IT THIS WAY, HE SAID THIS IS A LOT LIKE WRITING A BIG CHECK ON AN OVERDRAFT -- AN OVERDRAWN BANK ACCOUNT TO BUY A NEW CAR. HE SAID YOUR BANK SHOULDN'T LET YOU DO THAT AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE SHOULDN'T LET US DO THIS. AND I DON'T THINK THEY WILL. WHICH IS WHY WE ARE GLAD THAT A NUMBER OF THE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS JOINED WITH ALL 40 REPUBLICANS AND SAID TO THE DEMOCRATIC LEADER, WE WANT TWO THINGS ABOUT THIS HEALTH CARE BILL BY THE TIME IT GETS TO US. ONE, WE WANT TO BE ABLE TO TREED. AND, TWO, WE WANT TO THOUGH WHAT IT COSTS. AND WHAT THAT MEANS IS IT SHOULD GO UP ON THE INTERNET FOR AT LEAST 72 HOURS, THE COMPLETE TEXT, THAT'S WHAT THE LETTER FROM THE DEMOCRATIC SENATORS, AS WELL AS SENATOR BUNNING AND THE SEAMED HEAMENDMENT THAT HE OFFERED SAID. AND, SECOND, WEEP WANT A COMPLETE -- WE WANT A COMPLETE FORMAL ESTIMATE FROM THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE ABOUT WHAT THE BILL COSTS. BECAUSE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE SIGNIFICANTLY WORRIED ABOUT HEALTH CARE REFORM, THAT AS THE REPUBLICAN LEADER SAID, IS SUPPOSED TO REDUCE COSTS, REDUCE YOUR PREMIUMS, REDUCE YOUR GOVERNMENT'S DEBT, BUT, INSTEAD, EVERYTHING THAT WE'VE HEARD ABOUT IT SO FAR MAKES IT LOOK LIKE IT'S MORE LIKELY TO INCREASE THE COST OF YOUR PREMIUMS, TO INCREASE YOUR TAXES. AND ONE THING WE KNOW FOR SURE, IT WILL CUT YOUR MEDICARE. SO LET'S TALK ABOUT MEDICARE. -- MEDICARE FOR JUST A MOMENT. A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO WE HAD THE FIRST VOTE ON HEALTH CARE REFORM. AND FOR THE COUNTRY IT WAS A FORTUNATE VOTE BECAUSE YOU SAW A BIPARTISAN ACT HERE IN THE SENATE. THE PROPOSAL BY THE DEMOCRATIC LEADER WAS TO RUN UP THE DEBT ANOTHER QUARTER OF A TRILLION DOLLARS IN MEDICARE SPENDING. BUT 13 DEMOCRATS AND ALL 40 REPUBLICANS SAID, WE'RE NOT GOING TO DO THAT. WE HAVE TOO MUCH DEBT TODAY. WE HAD -- WE HAVE DEFICIT THIS LAST YEAR OF $1.4 TRILLION, WHICH WAS AS MUCH AS THE ENTIRE DEBT OF THE UNITED STATES FROM THE DAYS OF GEORGE WASHINGTON UNTIL 1990. SO WE ALL SAID, NO, SLOW DOWN. IT MAY BE A WORTHY THING TO DO. IT IS IMPORTANT TO DEAL WITH THE PHYSICIANS' REIMBURSEMENT PROBLEM. BUT WE'RE NOT GOING TO START OUT THE HEALTH CARE DEBATE BY BORROWING A QUARTER OF A TRILLION DOLLARS FOR MORE MEDICARE SPENDING. "THE WASHINGTON POST" WROTE ABOUT THAT PROPOSAL. QUOTE, "A DECADE AGO CONGRESS PASSED LEGISLATION TO LIMIT MEDICAID COSTS BY SLOWING THE PAYMENT TO DOCTORS. EACH YEAR CONGRESS PATCHES A PATCH TO PREVENT THE CUTS FROM TAKING EFFECT. THE SENATOR FROM MICHIGAN PROPOSED TO MAKE THIS SYSTEM HONEST, IN HER WORDS, BY ELIMINATING THE CUTS PERMANENTLY. IT'S A STRANGE INTERPRETATION, "THE WASHINGTON POST" SAID, OF HONESTY TO SEPARATE THIS THIS $250 BILLION COST FROM THE HEALTH CARE BILL. AND THEN CLAIM THAT THE OTHER BILL DOESN'T RAISE THE DEFICIT. WELL, FORTUNATELY THE SENATE CAME TO ITS SENSES AND SAID, NO, WE'RE NOT GOING TO RAISE THE DEBT A QUARTER OF A TRILLION DOLLARS FOR MORE MEDICARE SPENDING. BUT THE HOUSE DEMOCRATS WHO CAME UP WITH A 2,000-PAGE BILL, ABOUT WHICH THEY MAY -- THEY MAY BE VOTING ON IT IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS, APPARENTLY DIDN'T GET THAT MESSAGE. THEIR 2,000-PAGE BILL DOES NOT INCLUDE THE FIX FOR THE PHYSICIAN REIMBURSEMENT, WHICH WE ALL KNOW IS A PART OF HEALTH CARE REFORM. IT'S A PART OF THE MEDICAID SYSTEM. IT THAT'S TO DO WITH THE AMOUNT OF MONEY DOCTORS ARE PAID FOR SEEING MEDICARE PATIENTS. IT HAS TO BE DEALT WITH. YET, THEY'VE LEFT IT OUT TO THE SIDE AND, AGAIN, WE HAVE A PROPOSAL THAT ADDS TO THE DEFICIT, A QUARTER AFTER TRILLION DOLLARS. A "WALL STREET JOURNAL" EDITORIAL THIS WEEK, APPROPRIATELY ENTITLED -- QUOTE -- "THE WORST BILL EVER" NOTES THIS BY SAYING -- QUOTE -- "THE HOUSE PRETENDS" AS SOME SENATORS DID," THAT MEDICARE PAYMENT TO DOCTORS WILL BE CUT 21.5% NEXT YEAR AND DEEPER AFTER THAT SAVING ABOUT $250 BILLION." ACCORDING TO "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL," MAKING THOSE KIND OF ASSUMPTIONS MEANS THAT THE 2000-PAGE BILL WRITTEN IN THE HOUSE IS MORE LIKELY TO COST CLOSER TO $2 TRILLION OVER 10 YEARS INSTEAD OF $1 TRILLION. SO WE KNOW THAT THE ERA OF THE 1,000-PAGE BILL IS OVER BECAUSE WE HAVE A 2,000-PAGE BILL. AND I GUESS THE ERA OF THE THE $1 TRILLION PROPOSAL IS OVER BECAUSE WE'VE GOT A $2 TRILLION HEALTH CARE PROPOSAL BEING CONSIDERED IN THE HOUSE. THE ARTICLE IN THE WALL STREET GOES ON, "ALL OF THIS IS PARTICULARLY RECKLESS GIVEN THE UNRELIABILITY OF MEDICARE, NOW NORTH OF $37 TRILLION OVER 75 YEARS. IN OTHER WORDS OVER THE NEXT 75 YEARS WE HAVE $37 TRILLION IN OBLIGATIONS THAT THE MEDICARE PROGRAM HAS -- $37 TRILLION MORE THAN WE HAVE MONEY COMING IN. HOW IS THAT GOING TO MAKE YOU FEEL IF YOU'RE PART OF THE MEDICARE PROGRAM AND SOME MEMBER OF CONGRESS SAYS, OKAY, WE'RE GOING TO TAKE THIS PROGRAM WITH $37 MILLION IN UNFUNDED LIABILITIES, A PROGRAM THAT YOU RELY ON FOR YOUR MEDICARE, WE'RE GOING TO CUT IT IN ORDER TO START A NEW PROGRAM FOR SOMEBODY ELSE. I THINK YOU'RE GOING TO SAY THAT YOU DON'T LIKE THAT VERY MUCH. AND INCREASINGLY AS AMERICANS READ THESE BILLS AND UNDERSTAND WHAT IT COSTS AND UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY MEAN TO EACH AMERICAN, THEY COME TO THAT SAME CONCLUSION. SO WE WAIT WITH GREAT INTEREST TO SEE WHAT BILL THE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER WILL BRING FROM BEHIND HIS CLOSED DOORS. WHEN HE TAKES THE 1,500-PAGE FINANCE COMMITTEE BILL AND THE 900--- NEARLY 900-PAGE HEALTH COMMITTEE BILL HERE IN THE SENATE, PUTS IT TOGETHER, I ASSUME WITH THE 2,000-PAGE BILL IN THE HOUSE, AND ALL OF THEM DEPEND FOR ABOUT HALF THEIR COSTS ON CUTTING MEDICARE. MR. PRESIDENT, ANY REDUCTIONS IN MEDICARE -- ANY SAVINGS IN MEDICARE, ANY ELIMINATION OF WASTE, FRAUD, AND ABUSE IN MEDICARE SHOULD GO TO MEDICARE. WE SHOULDN'T BE CUTTING GRANDMA'S MEDICARE TO SPEND MONEY ON SOMEBODY ELSE. WE OUGHT TO SAVE MONEY IN GRANDMA'S MEDICARE TO SPEND ON GRANDMA. BECAUSE GRANDMA'S MEDICARE PROGRAM IS GOING BROKE. THAT'S WHAT THE MEDICARE TRUSTEES HAVE TOLD US. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SENIORS? WELL, THE SENATOR FROM FLORIDA OUTLINED THEM NEARLY NEARLY $140 BILLION IN CUTS TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE. ONE OUT OF FOUR SENIORS, I BELIEVE, HAS A MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAM. NEARLY $150 BILLION IN CUTS -- MEDICARE CUTS TO HOSPITALS THAT CARE FOR SENIORS. MORE THAN $40 BILLION FROM HOME HEALTH AGENCIES. NEARLY $8 BILLION FROM HOSPICES. MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT THE HOUSE BILL ALSO CUTS ROUGHLY ONE HALF TRILLION INCLUDING INCLUDING $170 BILLION TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE. AT LEAST $100 BILLION IN MEDICARE CUTS FOR HOSPITALS THAT CAREER SENIORS, THIS IS THE HOUSE BILL. $57 BILLION $NEARLY 24 BILLION FROM NURSING HOMES. WHILE PRESIDENT STATED -- QUOTE -- "PEOPLE CURRENTLY SIGNED UP FOR MEDICARE ADVANTAGE ARE GOING TO HAVE THE SAME LEVEL OF BENEFITS. THAT WAS PRESIDENT OBAMA. YET THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE DIRECTOR, THE NONPARTISAN CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE DIRECTOR, SAID AFTER LOOKING AT THESE DEMOCRATIC HEALTH CARE BILLS, THAT FULLY HALF OF THE BENEFITS CURRENTLY PROVIDED TO SENIORS UNDER MEDICARE ADVANTAGE WOULD DISAPPEAR. IN THAT CASE HE WAS REFERRING TO THE FINANCE COMMITTEE PROPOSAL IN THE SENATE. THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE DIRECTOR SAID THE CHARGES WOULD REDUCE THE EXTRA BENEFITS SUCH AS DENTAL, VISION, AND HEARING COVERAGE THAT WOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO BENEFICIARIES. NOW, WHAT ABOUT THE COST TO THE GOVERNMENT, MR. PRESIDENT? REMEMBER THAT AS THE REPUBLICAN LEADER SAID, WE THOUGHT THAT HEALTH CARE REFORM WAS ABOUT COST. I REMEMBER BEING INVITED -- AND I APPRECIATE IT VERY MUCH -- TO A SUMMIT THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA HAD EARLIER THIS YEAR ON ENTITLEMENT SPENDING. AND THE PRESIDENT SAID HE NEEDED TO WORK ON THAT. AND EVERY SPEAKER WHO WAS THERE SAID THAT IF WE DON'T DO SOMETHING ABOUT HEALTH CARE SPENDING, ABOUT MEDICAID AND ABOUT MEDICARE, THAT WE'RE GOING TO GO BROKE AS A COUNTRY, AND THAT ALMOST ALL OF OUR DEBT, DEFICIT PROBLEMS ARE RELATED TO HEALTH CARE SPENDING. SO OUR GOAL HERE IS TO REDUCE THE COST OF PREMIUMS TO INDIVIDUAL AMERICANS AND REDUCE THE COST OF GOVERNMENT TO INDIVIDUAL AMERICANS. THAT SHOULD BE OUR GOAL. BUT ACCORDING TO THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE, THE COST OF THE 2,000-PAGE HOUSE BILL REFLECTS A GROSS SPEPBGT TOTAL OF OVER -- SPENDING TOTAL OF OVER $1 TRILLION. WHO THINKS WE CAN SPEND ANOTHER $1 TRILLION WITHOUT ADDING TO THE DEBT? I DON'T THINK MANY AMERICANS DO. THIS INCLUDES OUTLAYS FOR MEDICAID AND CHILDREN'S HEALTH. ACCORDING TO THE BUDGET COMMITTEE STAFF, THE REAL TEN-YEAR COST OF THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE BILL WHEN FULLY IMPLEMENTED WOULD BE CLOSER TO $2 TRILLION. $1.8 TRILLION, BECAUSE THE MAIN SPENDING PROVISIONS DON'T GO INTO EFFECT FOR ANOTHER FEW YEARS, STARTING IN 2013. NOW, THE TAXES AND THE FEES, THE NEW TAXES, NEARLY $1 TRILLION IN TAXES, THEY START RIGHT AWAY, OVER THE FULL TEN YEARS. BUT THE BENEFITS DON'T START UNTIL 2013. AND THEY MAKE SOME OTHER ASSUMPTIONS ALONG THE WAY, THAT THERE WOULD BE A MEDICAID COMMISSION AND A FAST-TRACK PROCEDURE CALLED A TRIGGER, BOTH OF WHICH WILL CUT MEDICARE MORE. WELL, THOSE PROCEDURES HAVEN'T WORKED SO FAR, AND IF THERE ARE SAVINGS IN MEDICARE, THEY SHOULD BE SPENT ON MEDICARE, NOT TO START SOME NEW PROGRAM. SO REPUBLICANS -- AND WE HOPE DISCERNING DEMOCRATS -- AREN'T SCARING SENIORS ABOUT MEDICARE. THESE BILLS ARE SCARING SENIORS ABOUT MEDICARE. AND THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO BE WORRIED. THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO BE WORRIED. BECAUSE OF THE 40 MILLION AMERICANS WHO DEPEND ON MEDICARE, THEN IF SOMEONE -- JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION FOR YOURSELF. IF WE'RE GOING TO TAKE $428 BILLION OUT OF YOUR MEDICARE PROGRAM THAT THE TRUSTEES SAY IS GOING TO GO BROKE IN A FEW YEARS AND SPEND IT ON SOMEBODY ELSE, WHAT DOES THAT DO TO YOUR MEDICARE BENEFITS? IT PUTS THEM IN MORE JEOPARDY IS THE ONLY OBVIOUS ANSWER TO THAT. SO, MR. PRESIDENT, WE HAVE PROPOSALS THAT SO FAR CUT MEDICARE, RAISE TAXES, RAISE PREMIUMS, ADD TO THE DEBT, TRANSFER EXPENSES TO THE STATE THAT DEMOCRAT AND REPUBLICAN GOVERNORS SAY WILL BANKRUPT SOME STATES. THESE ARE MEDICAID -- THESE ARE THE MEDICAID PROGRAMS. THEY CREATE A NEW GOVERNMENT-RUN PROGRAM. I'M ALREADY GETTING E-MAILS FROM BUSINESS PEOPLE IN TENNESSEE WHO SAY IF A BILL LIKE THIS GOES THROUGH, THEY'RE OUT OF PROVIDING HEALTH CARE TO THEIR EMPLOYEES. THEY CAN'T STAND THE COSTS. SO MILLIONS OF AMERICANS WILL BE LOSING THEIR EMPLOYER INSURANCE AND SHIFTING OVER TO -- OVER TO THE NEW GOVERNMENT PROGRAM, WHICH IS BEING PAID FOR BY GRANDMA'S MEDICARE. THAT'S THE SCHEME. THAT'S THE SCHEME THAT'S BEING PUT TOGETHER HERE. SO OFTEN -- MR. PRESIDENT, HOW MUCH TIME DO I HAVE LEFT?

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  • 10:35:08 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    1/2 MINUTES.

  • 10:35:09 AM

    MR. ALEXANDER

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. SO HERE'S WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. SO HERE'S WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS' HEALTH CARE PLAN WHICH IS 2,000 PAGES LONG. OUR PREMIUMS, MEDICARE CUTS, HIGHER TAXES, MORE DEBT. THERE IS A GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN. WHEN YOU PUT THE WHOLE SCHEME TOGETHER, IF YOU'RE ONE OF THE 177 MILLION WHOSE EMPLOYER PROVIDES INSURANCE TO YOU, YOU HAVE -- YOU RUN A GREAT RISK, LET'S SAY IT THIS WAY, OF LOSING YOUR EMPLOYER INSURANCE BECAUSE THE EMPLOYER SAYS, "I CAN'T AFFORD TO PROVIDE IT ANYMORE." AND PLUS THE GOVERNMENT STARTED A NEW PROGRAM, SO YOU GO OVER TO THE GOVERNMENT PROGRAM. THAT COULD LEAD TO RATIONING. YOUR GOVERNOR WILL TELL YOU THAT THE STATES CAN'T AFFORD THE COSTS BEING TRANSFERRED TO THEM. SO THAT'S EITHER HIGHER STATE TAXES OR HIGHER COLLEGE TUITION TO PAY FOR THE REDUCED PAYMENTS TO PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION. AND A $2 TRILLION COST OVER TEN YEARS, ACCORDING TO THE "WALL STREET JOURNAL." MR. PRESIDENT, THAT'S NOT REAL HEALTH CARE REFORM. SO WHAT IS REAL HEALTH CARE REFORM? WHAT IS THE REPUBLICAN PLAN? OR WHAT HOPEFULLY COULD BE A BIPARTISAN PLAN THAT WE COULD WORK ON. WE WOULD SUGGEST -- AND WE'VE SUGGESTED THIS DAY AFTER DAY, WEEK AFTER WEEK, COMMITTEE MEETING AFTER COMMITTEE MEETING, LET'S START OVER. WE'RE HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. LET'S GO IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, AND THE RIGHT DIRECTION IS HAVING THE SIMPLE GOAL OF REDUCING COST, COST TO THOSE PAYING FOR HEALTH CARE INSURANCE AND THEIR PREMIUMS, AND COST TO THE GOVERNMENT, WHICH WE ALL HAVE TO PAY FOR AS WELL. AND HOW DO WE DO IT? INSTEAD OF A BIG COMPREHENSIVE 2,000-PAGE, $2 TRILLION, FULL OF SURPRISES AND MANDATES BILL THAT TERRIFIES EVERYONE, LET'S GO STEP BY STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION, WHICH IN THIS CASE IS REDUCING COST. AND WHAT WOULD THAT -- WHAT WOULD THAT MEAN? WELL, NUMBER ONE, WE COULD START WITH A SMALL BUSINESS HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN. NOW, THIS PERMITS SMALL BUSINESSES ALL ACROSS AMERICA TO POOL THEIR RESOURCES AND LEVERAGE THOSE RESOURCES. LET'S SAY YOU'RE IN A SMALL BUSINESS AND THERE ARE 80 EMPLOYEES, AND TWO PEOPLE GET REALLY SICK. THEY USE UP ALL OF THE AVAILABLE MONEY THAT SMALL BUSINESS HAS GOT TO HELP PAY FOR EMPLOYEES' HEALTH CARE, AND THE EMPLOYER HAS TO SAY, "I HAVE TO REDUCE EVERYBODY'S HEALTH CARE. OR, I'M SORRY, I JUST CAN'T OVER IT ANYMORE." BUT IF YOU ALLOW THAT SMALL BUSINESS TO JOIN WITH SMALL BUSINESSES ALL ACROSS AMERICA AND POOL THEIR RESOURCES AND LEVERAGE THEIR MONEY, THEN YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT OUTCOME. ACCORDING TO THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE, THAT WOULD MEAN THAT 750,000 MORE AMERICANS WOULD BE INSURED. TWO B IT WOULD MEAN THAT THREE -- IT WOULD MEAN THAT THREE OUT OF FOUR PEOPLE INSURED BY SMALL BUSINESSES WOULD PAY LOWER PREMIUMS. AND IT WOULD REDUCE THE COST OF MEDICAID AS THESE PEOPLE WENT ON TO THEIR OWN PRIVATE INSURANCE BY $1.4 BILLION. SO MORE PEOPLE INSURED, LOWER COST FOR PREMIUMS, AND LESS DEBT FOR MEDICAID. THAT'S ONE STEP WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO AGREE ON. SENATOR ENZI AND THE LATE SENATOR KENNEDY WORKED ON THAT FOR A LONG TIME, BUT WE HAVEN'T PASSED IT. WHY DON'T WE PASS IT IS THE FIRST STEP. THAT'S 88 PAGES. THAT'S NOT 2,000 PAGES. THEN A SECOND STEP, WHY DON'T WE ALLOW AMERICANS TO BUY INSURANCE ACROSS STATE LINES. THAT INCREASES COMPETITION. WE HAVE A NUMBER OF BILLS THAT HAVE BEEN INTRODUCED TO ALLOW THAT. SENATOR DeMINT OF SOUTH CAROLINA HAS ONE OF THOSE BILLS. THAT'S 30 PAGES, NOT 2,000 PAGES. JUNK LAWSUITS. VIRTUALLY EVERYONE WHO'S LOOKED AT IT AGREES THAT LAWSUITS AGAINST DOCTORS ADD TO THE COST OF HEALTH CARE THAT WE ALL PAY. SOME STATES HAVE TAKEN SOME STEPS AND SHOWN THAT IT MAKES A REAL DIFFERENCE. MAYBE IT'S A SMALL PART OF THE COST. MAYBE IT'S A LARGE PART OF THE COST, BUT IT IS A PART OF THE COST. ANYONE WHO'S INJURED, ANYONE WHO'S INJURED BY NEGLIGENCE BY A DOCTOR SHOULD BE PAID 100% OF THE DAMAGE TO THAT PERSON. BUT THIS WOULD BEGIN TO RESTRICT THE PUNITIVE DAMAGES THAT ARE OFTEN ADDED TO THAT WHICH GREATLY BENEFIT THE TRIAL LAWYER AS WELL AND INCREASE THE COST TO ALL OF US. SO, WHY DON'T WE TAKE STEPS TO DO THIS? WE KNOW OF EXAMPLES THAT IN MY STATE OF TENNESSEE AND I'M SURE IN VIRTUALLY EVERY STATE, OB-GYN DOCTORS HAVE MOVED OUT OF RURAL COUNTIES BECAUSE THEIR MEDICAL MALPRACTICE PREMIUMS HAVE GONE THROUGH THE ROOF. THEY JUST WON'T PRACTICE ANYMORE. AND SO PREGNANT WOMEN ARE HAVING TO DRIVE TO MEMPHIS, 60 OR 80 MILES, FOR THEIR PRENATAL HEALTH CARE AND TO DELIVER THEIR BABIES. THEY DON'T HAVE THAT SERVICE IN THE COUNTY WHERE THEY LIVE. THIS WOULD HELP THEM, THOSE WOMEN, AND THIS WOULD HELP REDUCE COSTS. SO THOSE ARE THREE STEPS THAT WE COULD TAKE. A FOURTH STEP WOULD BE EQUAL TAX TREATMENT FOR EVERY INDIVIDUAL ON OUR HEALTH CARE TAX POLICY. THAT'S 21 PAGES. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY FOR HEALTH CARE -- NOW THIS MAY TAKE A FEW YEARS TO ACTUALLY REDUCE COSTS, BUT VIRTUALLY EVERYONE AGREES THAT THE RECORD KEEPING IN OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IS A GREAT DRAG ON THE PRODUCTIVITY SYSTEM AND AN OBVIOUS ADDITION TO THE COST. AND DEMOCRATS AS WELL AS REPUBLICANS HAVE WORKED ON LEGISLATION TO CHANGE THIS; A 13-PAGE BILL INTRODUCED BY SENATORS COBURN, BURR AND ENZI. I'M SURE THERE ARE GOOD PROPOSALS ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE. WE COULD TAKE THAT STEP. AND THAT WOULD BE FIVE STEPS. THEN WE COULD HELP CREATE MORE HEALTH CARE EXCHANGES. THAT'S IN MANY OF THE BILLS. IT'S COMMON TO MANY OF THEM. IT SIMPLY SAYS THERE IS A SUPER MARKET AT WHICH ANY INDIVIDUAL CAN GO TO BUY MORE EASILY A HEALTH CARE PLAN FOR THAT INDIVIDUAL OR FOR THAT PERSON'S FAMILY. IT JUST TAKES EIGHT PAGES TO CREATE BETTER HEALTH CARE EXCHANGES ACROSS THIS COUNTRY. AND THEN WASTE, FRAUD, AND ABUSE. SENATOR LeMIEUX FROM FLORIDA, THE NEW SENATOR, MADE HIS MAIDEN ADDRESS ON WASTE, FRAUD, AND ABUSE. IT'S A SCANDAL THAT IN THE MEDICAID PROGRAM, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT ONE OUT OF EVERY TEN DOLLARS IS WASTE, FRAUD, AND ABUSE. THAT'S $32 BILLION A YEAR. WE CAN GO TO WORK ON THAT IN A VARIETY OF WAYS WHICH HE TALKED ABOUT THIS MORNING. THAT'S JUST 21 PAGES. SO THERE, MR. PRESIDENT, ARE SEVEN STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION WHICH ARE REDUCING HEALTH CARE COSTS. WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO TAKE THOSE STEPS IN A BIPARTISAN WAY. SO, WE HAVE A CHOICE OF APPROACHES HERE IN THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WANT REAL HEALTH CARE REFORM, BUT THEY DON'T BELIEVE THAT RAISING TAXES, RAISING PREMIUMS, CUTTING MEDICARE, INCREASING THE DEBT AND 2,000-PAGE BILLS FULL OF SURPRISES ARE REAL HEALTH CARE REFORM. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE PROPERLY SKEPTICAL OF A GRAND AND RISKY SCHEMES THAT CLAIMS THAT WE'RE WISE ENOUGH TO SOLVE EVERYTHING AT ONCE. THEY KNOW WE'RE MORE LIKELY TO MESS UP EVERYTHING AT ONCE IF WE TRY SUCH RISKY SCHEMES. SO, TO RE-EARN THE TRUST OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, WE SHOULD GO STEP BY STEP. HERE'S THE CHOICE. A 2,000-PAGE BILL OR 200 PAGE BILL. SOMETIMES THE ASSISTANT DEMOCRATIC LEADER WILL COME ON THE FLOOR AND SAY WHERE'S THE REPUBLICAN PLAN? I'VE SAID TO HIM YESTERDAY, IF HE'S WAITING FOR SENATOR McCONNELL TO BRING A WHEELBARROW IN HERE WITH A 2,000-PAGE REPUBLICAN ALTERNATIVE THAT COSTS $2 TRILLION AND JUST OUR WAY TO SPEND $2 TRILLION AND FULL OF SURPRISES AND OUR GRAND AND RISKY SCHEME, HE'S GOING TO BE WAITING A LONG TIME BECAUSE HE'S NOT GOING TO SEE IT. WE'RE GOING TO BRING SEVERAL STEPS WHICH WE KNOW WILL REDUCE COST, WHICH WE KNOW WE CAN AFFORD, WHICH WE KNOW WILL HELP PEOPLE, WE KNOW WE CAN IMPLEMENT AND WHICH WE BELIEVE HAVE SIGNIFICANT DEMOCRATIC SUPPORT AS WELL AS REPUBLICAN SUPPORT. IT'S 2,000 PAGES OR 200 PAGES. REDUCE PREMIUMS OR INCREASE PREMIUMS. REDUCE DEBT OR INCREASE DEBT? CUT MEDICARE AND START SOME NEW PROGRAM WITH IT OR MAKE MEDICARE SOLVENT BY TAKING ANY SAVINGS THAT WE CAN FIND IN MEDICARE AND USE IT TO HELP MEDICARE? HIGHER TAXES? I DIDN'T SAY MUCH ABOUT THAT, BUT THERE ARE $900 BILLION OF NEW TAXES IN THE PROGRAM WHEN IT'S FULLY IMPLEMENTED, THE FINANCE COMMITTEE PROGRAM. AND THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE DIRECTOR SAID THE OBVIOUS ABOUT THAT, THAT BY AND LARGE MOST OF THOSE NEW TAXES WILL BE PASSED ON TO WHO? THOSE OF US WHO PAY INSURANCE PREMIUMS. SO THERE'S ANOTHER REASON YOUR PREMIUMS ARE GOING UP. AND THE COST: REDUCE AND INCREASE? MR. PRESIDENT, WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO ENACT A GOOD HEALTH CARE PLAN THIS YEAR. THE COUNTRY NEEDS FOR US TO DO THAT. BUT WE REPUBLICANS ARE OFFERING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE A REAL CHOICE. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE APPROPRIATELY SKEPTICAL OF RISKY SCHEMES THAT RUN UP THE DEBT, COST $2 TRILLION AND ARE FILLED WITH HIGHER PREMIUMS, MORE TAXES AND MEDICARE CUTS. TO RE-EARN THE TRUST OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, WE SHOULD SET A CLEAR GOAL OF REDUCING COSTS AND MOVE STEP BY STEP IN THAT DIRECTION. THAT IS THE REPUBLICAN HEALTH CARE PLAN, AND THAT IS, MR. PRESIDENT, I BELIEVE, A PLAN THAT REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRATS CAN AGREE ON. I THANK THE PRESIDENT. I YIELD THE FLOOR. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT?

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  • 10:45:49 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM OHIO.

  • 10:45:52 AM

    MR. BROWN

    YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I GUESS WHEN I LISTEN TO MY COLLEAGUES TODAY FROM --…

    YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I GUESS WHEN I LISTEN TO MY COLLEAGUES TODAY FROM -- FROM THE REPUBLICAN SIDE OF THE AISLE, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE, PART OF ME IS INCREDULOUS. PART OF ME JUST SAYS, I CAN'T BELIEVE WHAT I'M HEARING. THE OTHER PART OF ME SAYS, OF COURSE I CAN HEAR WHAT I'M HEARING BECAUSE I'VE HEARD IT -- I HEARD IT IN 1995 WHEN THE REPUBLICANS TRIED TO PRIVATIZE MEDICARE WHEN I WAS A MEMBER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, AND I HEARD IT WHEN I READ BOOKS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED IN 1965 WHEN MEDICARE STARTED -- WAS CREATED. AND I HEARD ABOUT IT IN STUFF I READ FROM THE 1930'S WHEN F.D.R. -- WHEN FRANK LYNN DELANO -- FRANK LYNN DELANO ROOSEVELT TRIED TO CREATE MEDICARE. WE HAVE THE -- MY REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES WHO HAVE BECOME THE PARTY OF NO, WHO GENERALLY OPPOSE MEDICARE, GENERALLY OPPOSE THE MEDICARE IN 1956, GENERALLY OPPOSE SCHIP TO HELP POOR CHILDREN IN -- OFTEN NOT THE POOREST CHILDREN, CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS HAD JOB, BUT NOT INSURANCE. THE PARTY OF NO HAS GENERALLY OPPOSED MOST OF THOSE THINGS. WHY SHOULD WE BE SURPRISED THEY'RE OPPOSING THE HEALTH CARE ISSUE. BUT WHAT -- WHAT -- REALLY MAKE ME -- MAKES ME INCREDULOUS IS TO HEAR THEM SAY NOW THAT THE DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO CUT MEDICARE AND THAT WE'RE GOING TO USE THE MEDICARE CUTS TO PAY FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM. NICE TRY. I MEAN -- FOR THEM -- FOR THE PARTY OF NO -- THE PARTY THAT WAS AGAINST THE CREATION OF MEDICARE, THE PARTY THAT FOUGHT HEALTH INSURANCE FOREVER, THE PARTY THAT WHEN THEY FIRST GOT THEIR CHANCE, MR. PRESIDENT, THE FIRST TIME THE REPUBLICANS HAD A CHANCE WHEN THEY HAD A REPUBLICAN CONGRESS AND A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT, AND THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME THEY HAD THAT IN MANY, MANY YEARS, AS SOON AS THEY GOT A CHANCE, THEY TRIED TO PRIVATIZE MEDICARE. I HEARD MY COLLEAGUES COME TO THE FLOOR. MY COLLEAGUE FROM -- FIVE OF THEM THIS MORNING COME TO THE FLOOR AND TALK ABOUT PRIVATIZING -- TALK ABOUT THE DEMOCRATS CUTTING MEDICARE. THEY'RE THE PARTY THAT DIDN'T LIKE MEDICARE. THEY'RE THE PARTY THAT WANTED TO PRIVATIZE MEDICARE THROUGHOUT THE 1990'S AND WHAT PRESIDENT BUSH PARTIALLY SUCCEEDED AT DOING. AND WE KNOW, MR. PRESIDENT, THAT -- THAT THE HISTORY OF MEDICARE IS THE HISTORY OF -- OF INTEREST GROUPS, MOSTLY INSURANCE GROUPS, TEAMED UP WITH REPUBLICANS, TO TRY TO STOP MEDICARE'S CREATION. AND THE INTEREST GROUPS LED BY THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY, TEAMING UP WITH REPUBLICANS TO TRY TO PRIVATIZE MEDICARE, AND NOW IT'S THE INTEREST GROUPS LED BY THE INSURANCE COMPANIES TEAMING UP WITH REPUBLICANS TO TRY TO KILL OUR HEALTH CARE REFORM AND THEN WRAPPING THEMSELVES IN THE FLAG OF MEDICARE SAYING, WE'RE PROTECTING MEDICARE, LOOK WHAT THE DEMOCRATS ARE DOING, THE DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO CUT MEDICARE AND PAY FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM. I MEAN IT'S -- IT -- IT'S -- IT'S JUST SUCH AN EXAGGERATION. BUT -- BUT IT'S THE SAME ARGUMENTS, THE SAME DISTORTIONS, THE SAME EXAGGERATIONS, THE SAME SCARE TACTIC THAT'S WE'RE USED TO. SO IT SHOULDN'T SURPRISE US AT ALL. SENATOR DURBIN IS HERE AND I KNOW THAT --

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  • 10:49:09 AM

    MR. DURBIN

    ASK THE SENATOR FROM OHIO IF HE MISSED THE LATEST CRITICISM OF HEALTH CARE…

    ASK THE SENATOR FROM OHIO IF HE MISSED THE LATEST CRITICISM OF HEALTH CARE REFORM. THE SENATE FROM TENNESSEE COMES TO THE FLOOR EVERY DAY AND THE FOCUS OF HIS ATTENTION IS HOW MANY PAGES ARE IN THE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL. I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP. HE COMES TO THE FLOOR EVEN THOUGH THE SENATE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL IS STILL IN PROCESS, IT WILL BE POSTED ON THE INTERNET AS PROMISED. IT HASN'T BEEN WRITTEN. AND THE SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE COMES TO THE FLOOR AND EACH DAY THE NUMBER OF PAGES GETS INFLATED. TODAY HE'S CLAIMING 2,000 PAGES IN HEALTH CARE REFORM. THEN HE PUTS HIS ALTERNATIVE UP AND SAYS I CAN DO IT IN 200 PAGES. IT REALIZE ME OF THE OLD SHOW "NAME THAT TUNE." HOW MANY NOTES DO YOU NEED TO HEAR TO NAME THAT TUNE? THE SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE SAYS THAT HE CAN NAME THAT TUNE FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM IN 200 PAGES, THEREFORE, HE HAS A BETTER PROPOSAL. I'D LIKE TO ASK THE SENATOR FROM OHIO HOW MUCH IMPORTANCE AND SIGNIFICANCE WE SHOULD ATTACH TO THE NUMBER OF NAIDGES A BILL AND -- TO THE PAGES IN A BILL AND ASK THE SENATOR FROM OHIO IF HE REMEMBERS THE PREVIOUS PRESIDENT, PRESIDENT BUSH, UNDER A REPUBLICAN ADMINISTRATION, BROUGHT TO CONGRESS A THREE-PAGE BILL TO CREATE THE TROUBLED ASSETS RELIEF PROGRAM THAT COST COST $800 BILLION AND DID IT IN THREE PAGES. DOES THAT TELL US THERE WAS WISDOM IN THIS IDEA OF SPENDING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS TO BAIL OUT THE BANKS? IN OHIO, AS YOU TRAVEL AROUND, HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE STOPPED YOU, SENATOR BROWN, AND SAID, WAIT A MINUTE. I WILL NOT SUPPORT ANY HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL THAT GOES OVER 200 PAGES? IF IT'S 201 PAGES, I WANT YOU TO VOTE AGAINST IT. IF IT'S 2,000, I HOPE YOU'LL FILIBUSTER. HAVE YOU RUN INTO THAT AS YOU TRAVELED AROUND OHIO?

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  • 10:50:55 AM

    MR. BROWN

    THANK YOU. I KNOW YOUR QUESTION IN PART IS IN GUEST, BUT IT'S PRETTY -- I…

    THANK YOU. I KNOW YOUR QUESTION IN PART IS IN GUEST, BUT IT'S PRETTY -- I KNOW IT IS PRETTY -- PRETTY INTEREST WHEN YOU CONTRAST THIS BILL TO THE TARP BILL. WHEN HE CAME TO US AND SAID PASS THE THREE-PAGE BILL AND WE'LL ALL BE BETTER OFF. THAT DIDN'T WORK QUITE THE WAY THEY WANTED. I COME TO THE FLOOR REGULARLY AND READ LETTERS FROM PEOPLE FROM AROUND MY STATE FROM ZANESVILLE, TOLEDO, BOWLING GREEN, ATHENS, AND DAYTON. THESE LETTERS. I DON'T SEE ANYBODY SAYING, PLEASE VOTE YES FOR THE SHORT BILL AND NO ON THE LONG BILL. I WISH WE COULD TALK A LITTLE LESS AROUND HERE AND WRITE A LITTLE MORE CONCISELY. I DON'T THINK THAT'S THE POINT. THE LETTERS THAT I GET THAT I READ ON THE FLOOR, MR. PRESIDENT, ARE LETTERS GENERALLY PR PEOPLE WHO A -- FROM PEOPLE WHO A YEAR AGO WOULD HAVE SAID, I HAVE REALLY GOOD HEALTH INSURANCE, AT LEAST I THINK IT'S GOOD, BUT THEN THEY GOT SICK AND THEY FOUND OUT THE INSURANCE COMPANY PRACTICED RESCISSION, WHICH MEANS THAT -- THAT'S INSURANCE COMPANY SPEAK FOR THEY TAKE YOUR POLICY AWAY. THEY CANCEL YOUR POLICY OR THEY HAD A CHILD. ONE OF MY LETTERS IS FROM A WOMAN WHO HAD A CHILD, THOUGHT SHE HAD GOOD INSURANCE, THE CHILD HAD A PREEXISTING CONDITION, SHE HAD HER INSURANCE CANCELED. OTHERS ARE FROM PEOPLE WHO GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE, THEY'RE 22 YEARS OLD, THEY'RE TAKEN OFF THEIR PARENTS' INSURANCE POLICY AND THEY'RE STRUGGLING BECAUSE THEY'RE NOT MAKING ENOUGH MONEY AND AREN'T IN A JOB THAT HAS INSURANCE AT THAT STAGE OF THEIR LIVES. THEY WOULD LIKE TO STAY ON THEIR PARENTS' POLICY FOR ANOTHER FOUR OR FIVE YEARS AS OUR BILL LET'S US DO. SO IT REALLY IS -- I GUESS -- WHEN I HEAR THE -- THE ASSISTANT MAJORITY LEADER ASK THAT QUESTION ABOUT THE LENGTH OF THE BILL AND HE'S RIGHT, THAT'S WHAT -- WHAT SENATOR ALEXANDER WAS TALKING ABOUT MOSTLY IS THE LENGTH OF THE BILL. IS, YOU KNOW, THERE -- PART OF THEIR CRITICISM IS THE LENGTH OF THE BILL. THE OTHER CRITICISM IS REALLY TO TRY TO SCARE PEOPLE. HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN THAT THEY'RE TRYING TO SCARE PEOPLE? ENGAGE IN MEDI-SCARE TACTICS.

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  • 10:52:56 AM

    MR. DURBIN

    I HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION, IF HE WOULD YIELD, THROUGH THE CHAIR. THE MAJOR…

    I HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION, IF HE WOULD YIELD, THROUGH THE CHAIR. THE MAJOR FORCE OPPOSING HEALTH CARE REFORM ARE THE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES. THE PRIVATE FOR-PROFIT HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES THAT, INCIDENTALLY, ARE DECLARING SOME OF THE LARGEST PROFITS IN THEIR HISTORY, EVEN IN THE MIDST OF THIS RECESSION. THIS WEEK HUMANA ANNOUNCED RECORDBREAKING PROFITS PRIMARILY FROM MEDICARE ADVANTAGE. MEDICARE ADVANTAGE, FOR WHOSE WHO DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT MEANINGS WHO ARE TOO YOUNG OR -- THAT MEANS, OR ARE TOO YOUNG, THE PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANY SAID THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT'S BEEN RUNNING MEDICARE FOR 40 YEARS AND HAS DONE A ROTTEN JOB. WE CAN DO A BETTER JOB. WE CAN COVER SENIORS WITH THE BENEFITS PROMISED IN MERIT A LOWER COST BECAUSE WE'RE PRIVATE SECTOR. WE KNOW EFFICIENCY. WE'RE NOT A BUREAUCRACY. WE'RE NOT A GOVERNMENT. WE'RE PRIVATE SECTOR. AND SO THEY WERE GIVEN THAT CHANCE. AND A FEW YEARS AGO THEY OFFERED THE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLAN TO COMPETE WITH TRADITIONAL GOVERNMENT-RUN MEDICARE. AND AT THE END OF THE DAY AFTER YEARS OF EVALUATION WHAT WE FOUND WAS THE PRIVATE COMPANIES WERE CHARGING 14% MORE -- MANY OF THEM CHARGING 14% MORE THAN GOVERNMENT-RUN MEDICARE. WHICH MEANT THAT THE MEDICARE PROGRAM WAS PAYING THEM MORE FOR THE BASIC BENEFITS THAN WHAT THE GOVERNMENT WAS ASKING TO PROVIDE THE SAME BENEFITS. NOW, THESE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES HAVE GOTTEN RICH ON IT. HUMANA THIS WEEK ANNOUNCED A RECORDBREAKING PROFIT PRIMARILY BASED ON THEIR MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLAN, WHICH WAS SUPPOSED TO SAVE US MONEY. AND, IN FACT, COST US MORE MONEY. AND I WOULD SAY TO THE SENATOR FROM OHIO, WHEN WE WRITE A BILL THAT DEALS WITH HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM TO STOP THESE MAJOR COMPANIES FROM DENYING COVERAGE TO PEOPLE FOR PREEXISTING CONDITIONS, PUTTING A COMPANY ON THE AMOUNT OF MONEY THAT THEY WILL GIVE THEM IF THEY HAVE A SERIOUS ILLNESS, YOU CAN COUNT ON THESE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES HIRING THEIR LAW FIRMS, TEAMS OF LAWYERS TO FIGHT US. IF IT TAKES ANOTHER 50 PAGES OR 100 PAGES TO MAKE SURE THAT WE STATE CLEARLY IN THE LAW THE RIGHTS OF AMERICAN FAMILIES AND CONSUMERS AND BUSINESSES WHEN IT COMES TO HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM, THEN I THINK THAT IS PAPER WELL SPENT. THAT'S TIME WELL SPENT. AND I WOULD ASK THE SENATOR FROM OHIO, YOU HAVE LISTENED TO THE REPUBLICANS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE. I HAVE YET TO HEAR THE FIRST REPUBLICAN SENATOR COME FORWARD IN FAVOR OF HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM. THEY HAVE NOT COME OUT FOR THE CONSUMER PROTECTIONS WHICH ARE REALLY FUNDAMENTAL TO OUR BILL AND I ASKED THE SENATOR FROM OHIO IF HE'S HEARD THAT.

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  • 10:55:36 AM

    MR. BROWN

    SENATOR DURBIN. NO, I HAVEN'T. I GO BACK, AGAIN, I SAID EARLIER, WHO ARE…

    SENATOR DURBIN. NO, I HAVEN'T. I GO BACK, AGAIN, I SAID EARLIER, WHO ARE THE MAJOR OPPONENTS TO THIS BILL? IT'S TWO GROUPS. IT'S THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY AND IT'S THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. NOT REPUBLICANS THAT LIVE IN SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, OR SPRINGFIELD, OHIO. NOT REPUBLICANS THAT LIVE IN YOURURBAN, ILLINOIS OR URBANNA OHIO. OF COURSE THEY'RE NOT GOING TO SUPPORT THIS LEGISLATION BECAUSE THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY DIDN'T WRITE IT. IN FACT, IT'S LEGISLATION THAT THE INSURANCE COMPANIES OBVIOUSLY DON'T MUCH LIKE AND WE'VE SEEN THESE BATTLES BEFORE. THEY DID IT WITH THE CREATION OF MEDICARE, THE SAME ARGUMENTS, THE SAME SCARE TACTICS, THE SAME EXTORTIONINGS, THE SAME EXAGGERATIONS. IT GOES BACK -- YOU MENTIONED HUMANA. I WAS -- THE HUMANA PROFITS. LOOK AT THIS. HUMANA PROFITS WHILE 47 MILLION AMERICANS ARE UNINSURED AND TENS OF MILLIONS UNDER INSURED, PREMIUMS DOUBLE IN NINE YEARS, SMALL BUSINESS PREMIUMS INCREASED BY 15% OR MORE IN 2010, SMALL BUSINESS, AS YOU KNOW, SENATOR DURBIN, ALWAYS GETS HIT HARDER THAN DO LARGER COMPANIES BECAUSE THEY CAN'T SPREAD THEIR RISK AS MUCH BECAUSE THE LARGER COMPANIES CAN CHARGE MORE AND CHARGE LARGER COMPANIES. YOU GO BACK TO THE BUSINESS PLAN. LOOK AT WHAT INSURANCE COMPANIES DO. YOU MENTIONED THAT THE PRIVATE SECTOR SAY THAT'S THE GOVERNMENT HAS THE BIG BUREAUCRACIES. WELL, MEDICARE'S ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ARE SIGNIFICANTLY UNDER 5%. PRIVATE INSURANCE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES ARE ANYWHERE FROM 15% TO 30%. LOOK AT THE BUSINESS PLAN, THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY HIRES A BUNCH OF BUREAUCRATS TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO DENY CARE. THEY HIRE BUREAUCRATS TO SAY, SORRY, YOU HAVE A PREEXISTING CONDITION, WE WON'T INSURE YOU. THEY HIRE BUREAUCRATS TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST PEOPLE BECAUSE OF A DISABILITY OR GENDER OR SOMETHING ELSE. THEY HIRE PEOPLE SO THEY CAN SIFT THROUGH AND GET THE RIGHT CUSTOMERS -- RIGHT CUSTOMERS, THEN THEY HIRE A BUNCH OVER BUREAUCRATS ON THE OTHER END TO -- TO DENY CLAIMS THAT PEOPLE SUBMIT. SO THEY -- THEY HIRE THIS HUGE BUREAUCRACY IN ORDER TO KEEP PEOPLE FROM BUYING INSURANCE IF THEY'RE NOT GOOD RISKS AND THEY HIRE A HUGE BUREAUCRACY TO DENY YOUR CLAIMS THAT YOU SEND THEM. SOMETHING LIKE 30% OF INSURANCE CLAIMS ARE DENIED THE FIRST TIME AROUND. SO EVEN IF YOU GET YOUR CLAIM PAID FOR, IF YOU GET SICK, YOU SEND IT IN TO -- YOU SEND IT IN TO -- TO WELLPOINT OR AETNA OR CIGNA, AND THEY DENY YOUR CLAIM. SO WHAT DO YOU GOT TO DO? INSTEAD OF TAKING CARE OF YOUR SICK -- SICK WIFE OR TAKE CARE OF YOUR MOTHER OR HELPING HER OR WHATEVER OR YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN, YOU SPEND YOUR TIME FIGHTING WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY INSTEAD OF TAKING CARE OF THEM. THAT'S THE GOOD NEWS IF YOU WIN ON THOSE. SO OFTEN THEY TURN YOU DOWN AND YOU APPEAL AND YOU STILL DON'T WIN.

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  • 10:58:36 AM

    MR. DURBIN

    MEDICARE DOESN'T EXCLUDE PEOPLE FOR PREEXISTING CONDITION, RIGHT?

  • 11:00:39 AM

    MR. BROWN

    THAT'S RIGHT.

  • 11:00:45 AM

    MR. DURBIN

    BUT INSURANCE COMPANIES WILL USE THEIR BUREAUCRACY TO DENY CARE.

  • 11:00:46 AM

    MR. BROWN

    BUT INSURANCE COMPANIES WILL USE THEIR BUREAUCRACY TO DENY CARE.

  • 11:00:50 AM

    MR. DURBIN

    IS WHAT WE'RE UP AGAINST. WHEN THE REPUBLICANS COME TO THE FLOOR AND DON'T…

    IS WHAT WE'RE UP AGAINST. WHEN THE REPUBLICANS COME TO THE FLOOR AND DON'T WANT TPO SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS -- TO SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS TOWARDS HEALTH CARE REFORM, THEY'RE SAYING THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS JUST FINE. I SAW THE SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE COME TO THE FLOOR AND SAY YOU OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO BUY HEALTH INSURANCE ACROSS STATE LINES. THERE'S SOME APPEAL TO THAT. YOU WOULDN'T THINK MUCH OF GOING FROM OHIO -- YOU WOULDN'T ENCOURAGE THIS -- TO SOME ADJOINING STATE TO BUY A CAR. IT'S THE SAME CAR AND SO FORTH. BUT ISN'T IT A FACT THAT AS YOU GO STATE BY STATE, THE STANDARDS FOR HEALTH INSURANCE CHANGE? SOME STATES HAVE VERY HIGH STANDARDS OF THE KINDS OF HEALTH INSURANCE WE CAN EXPECT TO BUY IN OUR STATES. OTHERS, VERY LOW STANDARDS. SOME STATES ARE MUCH BETTER AT LOOKING AT THE BOOKS OF INSURANCE COMPANIES TO MAKE SURE THEY CAN PAY OFF AS PROMISED THAN OTHERS. AND IF YOU GO MOVING AROUND STATE BY STATE SHOPPING, YOU MAY END UP WITH SOMETHING THAT LOOKS LIKE GOOD INSURANCE UNTIL YOU REALLY NEED IT. SO OUR BILLS, AT LEAST THE ONES YOU CONSIDERED IN THE "HELP" COMMITTEE AND IN OTHER COMMITTEES, TRY TO ESTABLISH A BASIC STANDARD OF CARE SO NO MATTER WHERE YOU LIVE IN AMERICA, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE THE SAME KIND OF BASIC PROTECTION WHEN IT COMES TO WHAT YOUR FAMILY NEEDS. AND BELIEVE ME, I'VE HAD PERSONAL EXAMPLES IN MY FAMILY AND AS A LAWYER WHERE YOU NEED IT. WE HAD IN ILLINOIS, BEFORE WE CHANGED THE LAW, COMPANIES THAT WERE SELLING HEALTH INSURANCE TO NEW MOTHERS COVERING THEIR OBSTETRIC CARE AND THEN WOULD NOT COVER THE NEWBORN BABY UNTIL IT WAS 30 DAYS OLD. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT'S ALL ABOUT. BRAND-NEW BABIES ARE SOMETIMES VERY SICK AND VERY EXPENSIVE. SO THIS HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY WAS EXCLUDING NEWBORN INFANTS FROM COVERAGE FOR 30 DAYS. WE CHANGED THE LAW IN ILLINOIS AND SAID YOU CAN'T DO THAT. YOU WANT TO COVER THE MOTHER AND THE BABY, YOU COVER THE BABY FROM THE MINUTE OF BIRTH, THE MOMENT OF BIRTH. SO OUR LAW IS THERE TO PROTECT YOU. OTHER STATES MAY NOT HAVE THIS LAW. THEIR POLICIES MAY BE CHEAPER. THEN WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE A SICK BABY?

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  • 11:02:50 AM

    MR. BROWN

  • 11:19:32 AM

    MR. LEAHY

    THE SENATOR FROM VERMONT.

  • 11:19:33 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WHAT IS THE PARLIAMENTARY SITUATION?

  • 11:19:41 AM

    MR. LEAHY

    THE PARLIAMENTARY SITUATION?

  • 11:19:43 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATE IS IN A PERIOD MORNING BUSINESS.

  • 11:19:46 AM

    MR. LEAHY

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 11:30:06 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    AND I YIELD THE FLOOR.

  • 11:30:07 AM

    MR. LEAHY

    AND I YIELD THE FLOOR.

  • 11:30:14 AM

    MR. SCHUMER

    THE SENATOR FROM OREGON.

  • 11:41:03 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM OREGON.

  • 11:41:07 AM

    MR. MERKLEY

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 11:41:18 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 11:41:20 AM

    MR. MERKLEY

    PRESIDENT, I RISE TODAY TO ADDRESS ONE PARTICULAR ASPECT OF THE BILL…

    PRESIDENT, I RISE TODAY TO ADDRESS ONE PARTICULAR ASPECT OF THE BILL BEFORE US, THE WORKER HOMEOWNERSHIP AND BUSINESS ASSISTANCE ACT OF 2009. NOW, HOMEOWNERSHIP IS ADDRESSED IN THIS BILL THROUGH EXTENSION OF THE $8,000 CREDIT TO FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS. NOW, THERE ARE SOME ADJUSTMENTS TO THAT CREDIT ENCAPSULATED IN THIS BILL, BUT I'M NOT GOING TO GET INTO THOSE DETAILS. I WANT TO ADDRESS A DIFFERENT ASPECT OF THIS. THIS IS AN IDEA THAT HASN'T REALLY BEEN FULLY DEBATED IN THE SENATE, BUT I THINK IT'S AN APPROPRIATE TIME TO PUT IT FORWARD, AND THAT'S THAT WE NEED A PERMANENT $5,000 TAX CREDIT FOR FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS. NOW, FOLKS MAY SAY BUT WE HAVE A MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION, AND THAT'S A MAJOR HOMEOWNERSHIP PROGRAM HERE IN AMERICA. WHY SHOULD WE HAVE A DOWN PAYMENT TAX CREDIT FOR FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS ON AN ONGOING BASIS? IN THE BILL BEFORE US, THE TAX CREDIT IS DESIGNED TO STIMULATE THE ECONOMY, STIMULATE THE HOUSING MARKET, BUT I PUT THIS IDEA FORWARD FROM A DIFFERENT DIRECTION, THE DIRECTION OF EMPOWERING OUR WORKING FAMILIES THROUGH HOMEOWNERSHIP. NOW, WHY IS THAT SO IMPORTANT? I'LL TELL YOU, I WILL GIVE YOU A FEW VIGNETTES. I SPENT YEARS WORKING AS DIRECTOR OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY, WORKING WITH LOW-INCOME FAMILIES THAT WERE TRYING TO BECOME HOMEOWNERS. THE COMMUNITY CAME TOGETHER AND MADE IT AFFORDABLE AND POSSIBLE BY DONATING LAND AND DONATING MATERIALS AND PARTICIPATING IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE HOME. HABITAT SOLD THE HOMES TO THE INDIVIDUALS ON A ZERO INTEREST MORTGAGE, AND THOSE FAMILIES PARTICIPATED IN THE CONSTRUCTION , OFTEN CALLED SWEAT EQUITY. THEY WERE OUT THERE HAMMERING NAILS, PUTTING UP WALLS, POURING FOUNDATIONS, PUTTING ON ROOFING, PUTTING THEIR OWN LABOR AND SWEAT INTO THE CONSTRUCTION OF THAT HOUSE. BUT WHAT I SAW THROUGH THAT EXPERIENCE WAS THE PROFOUND IMPACT OF HOMEOWNERSHIP ON WORKING FAMILIES. NOW, I SAW FAMILIES THAT WERE UNSTABLE THAT HAD BEEN GOING FROM LIVING IN A VAN TO LIVING IN A BASEMENT BECOME STABLE, AND I SAW THE POSITIVE IMPACTS ON THE CHILDREN, CHILDREN WHO HAD NEVER BEEN ABLE TO INVITE A FRIEND OVER BEFORE NOW HAVING PRIDE IN THEIR HOME AND THE ABILITY TO INVITE FRIENDS OVER, HAVING MORE SELF-RESPECT FOR THEMSELVES. I SAW THEM DOING BETTER IN SCHOOL. I SAW PARENTS WHO DIDN'T BELIEVE THAT THEY HAD A STAKE IN THE COMMUNITY NOW SEE THAT THEY HAD A STAKE IN THE COMMUNITY AND THAT AFFECTED THE WAYS THAT THEY BEHAVED. THEY BECAME MORE INVOLVED IN THE AFFAIRS OF THE COMMUNITY. NOW, I SAW ALL OF THIS AS VIGNETTES, SO I WANTED TO TURN FIRST TO LAYING OUT THE FACT THAT STUDY AFTER STUDY AFTER STUDY THAT LOOKS AT THE DETAILS OF HOMEOWNERSHIP'S IMPACT FINDS THAT INDEED HOMEOWNERSHIP HAS AN ENORMOUS IMPACT ON WORKING FAMILIES. SOCIOLOGIST R.J.MERSICK FOUND THAT CRIME, UNEMPLOYMENT, SUICIDES, JUVENILE DELINQUENCY, TEEN PREGNANCY AND DRUG USE ARE DECREASED BY HOMEOWNERSHIP. "THE JOURNAL OF URBAN ECONOMICS" FOUND THAT CHILDREN OF HOME-OWNING FAMILIES TEND TO HAVE HIGHER LEVELS OF ACHIEVEMENT IN MATH AND READING, TO HAVE FEWER BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS, TO STAY IN SCHOOL LONGER, MORE LIKELY TO GRADUATE IN HIGH SCHOOL, MORE LIKELY TO GO TO COLLEGE. I STUDIED BY ALBA LOGAN IN BEL AIR, TITLED "LIVING WITH CRIME," FOUND THAT HOMEOWNERSHIP RESULTED IN FAMILY MEMBERS BEING LESS LIKELY, SIGNIFICANTLY LESS LIKELY, TO BE INVOLVED IN CRIME. NOW, ALL OF THIS IS COMMON SENSE. IT'S COMMON SENSE THAT A FAMILY THAT FEELS PART OF THE COMMUNITY THAT IS GOING TO BE LESS LIKELY TO BE INVOLVED IN CRIME, IS GOING TO BE MORE INVOLVED IN THE COMMUNITY, THAT CHILDREN WHO ARE MORE STABLE, HAVE MORE SELF-RESPECT ARE GOING TO FARE BETTER IN SCHOOL. IT MAKES SENSE THAT THE STABILITY OF HOMEOWNERSHIP MAKES IT MORE LIKELY THAT CHILDREN ARE GOING TO GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL. BUT I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO DOCUMENT THOSE IMPACTS FROM THE STUDIES AS WELL AS FROM OUR COMMON SENSE OR FROM VIGNETTES. NOW, WE HAVE A MAJOR PROGRAM IN AMERICA, HOME MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION, WHICH IS DESIGNED TO FACILITATE HOMEOWNERSHIP, AND IT IS A TERRIFIC PROGRAM. BUT THE PROGRAM DOES NOT ASSIST WORKING FAMILIES GETTING INTO THEIR FIRST HOME. LET ME PUT UP A CHART HERE TO EXPLAIN WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. NOW, IF YOU TAKE A FAMILY, WORKING FAMILY, MAYBE THEY'RE EARNING $40,000 OR $50,000 OR $70,000 AND THEY BUY A HOUSE, $150,000 HOUSE, PUT 5% DOWN. RIGHT NOW MORTGAGE RATES ARE LOW SO THEY PAY 5% INTEREST. AND THEIR TOTAL INTEREST IS $7,078. WELL, NOW THAT'S LESS THAN THE STANDARD DEDUCTION FOR A YEAR. THE STANDARD DEDUCTION IS $11,400. SO WORKING FAMILIES ARE NOT ASSISTED BY THE HOME MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION IN GETTING INTO HOMES. NOW, IT'S STILL A GOOD PROGRAM. IT STILL EMPOWERS HOMEOWNERSHIP OVER THE LONG TERM. IT CERTAINLY IS BENEFICIAL IN AN INCREASING WAY TO FAMILIES WHO THAT EARN MORE. HERE'S A FAMILY BUYING A $500,000 HOUSE. WHILE THE INTEREST IN THE FIST YEAR, SAME ASSUMPTIONS, 5% DOWN, 5% INTEREST, $23,591, FAR COMPETING THE STANDARD DEDUCTION DEDUCTION. SO IF YOU'RE A FAMILY THAT'S BETTER OFF, YOU CAN BUY A BIGGER HOUSE, THE HOME MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION HELPS LAUNCH YOU INTO HOMEOWNERSHIP. BUT IF YOU'RE A WORKING FAMILY IN AMERICA, IT DOESN'T HELP MUCH MUCH. IN FACT, IT'S OFTEN -- THE INTEREST IS LESS THAN YOUR STANDARD DEDUCTION AND SO IT HAS NO IMPACT WHATSOEVER. THIS IS WHY WE SHOULD DEBATE FULLY A PERMANENT $5,000 DOWN PAYMENT TAX CREDIT FOR FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS. NOW, OF COURSE, WE ALWAYS STRUGGLE WITH THE COST OF PROGRAMS AND THAT'S A VERY IMPORTANT THING TO DO. NOW, THE COST OF THE HOME MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION IN THIS LAST YEAR IS -- I WANT TO TRY TO FIND THE SHEET AND QUOTE IT EXACTLY -- BUT ABOUT $9 $9 BILLION -- $97 BILLION, THAT'S THE COST OF THE HOME MORTGAGE INTEREST DEDUCTION -- WITH MOST OF THE BENEFITS GOING TO AFFLUENT FAMILIES. SO $97 BILLION THAT IS DIRECTED IN WAYS THAT DON'T HELP OUR WORKING FAMILIES GET INTO THEIR FIRST HOME. WHAT IF WE WERE TO SPEND A FRACTION OF THAT TO HELP WORKING FAMILIES BECOME HOMEOWNERS, KNOWING THAT THE EXTERNALITIES OF HOMEOWNERSHIP -- MORE LIKELY TO FINISH SCHOOL, MORE LIKELY TO EARN MORE MONEY, LESS LIKELY TO END UP ON PUBLIC PROGRAMS -- ALL THOSE BENEFITS ARE PAID BACK TO US IN MULTIPLES. SO WHAT WOULD THE COST BE OF PROVIDING A $5,000 DOWN PAYMENT TAX CREDIT, A PERMANENT ONE TO FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS? WELL, IT WOULD BE ON THE ORDER OF ABOUT $10 BILLION, ASSUMING THAT EVERY FAMILY, REGARDLESS OF INCOME, WAS ELIGIBLE. SO $97 BILLION PROGRAM, AN IMPORTANT PROGRAM, A GOOD PROGRAM, BUT IT DOESN'T HELP WORKING FAMILIES GET INTO HOMES. WHY NOT SPEND 10% OF THAT ON A PROGRAM THAT WOULD HELP LAUNCH OUR WORKING FAMILIES INTO HOMEOWNERSHIP, WHICH MAKES MUCH BETTER LIVES FOR THEM AND A MUCH BETTER COMMUNITY, STRONGER COMMUNITIES FOR EVERYONE ELSE AND A MUCH BETTER FUTURE FOR THEIR CHILDREN. SO, MR. PRESIDENT, I'LL JUST CONCLUDE IN THIS FASHION. HOMEOWNERSHIP HAS ENORMOUS VALUE TO OUR SOCIETY. HOMEOWNERSHIP DONE RIGHT, NOT WITH LIAR LOANS, NOT WITH PREPAYMENT PENALTIES, NOT WITH STEERING PAYMENTS, NOT WITH MORTGAGES THAT ARE BASICALLY SCAMS, BUT HOMEOWNERSHIP DONE RIGHT HAS ENORMOUS RETURNS. RESPONSIBLE, GOOD, SOLID MORTGAGES. WE SHOULD SUPPORT OUR WORKING FAMILIES TO BECOME HOMEOWNERS FOR THEIR SAKE AND FOR STRENGTHENING ALL OF AMERICA AND FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

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  • 11:51:18 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    MORNING BUSINESS IS CLOSED. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, IT THE SENATE WILL…

    MORNING BUSINESS IS CLOSED. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, IT THE SENATE WILL RESUME CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 3548, WHICH THE CLERK WILL REPORT.

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  • 11:51:25 AM

    THE CLERK

    NUMBER 174, H.R. 3548, AN ACT TO AMEND THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT…

    NUMBER 174, H.R. 3548, AN ACT TO AMEND THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT 2008 TO PROVIDE FOR THE TEMPORARY AVAILABILITY OF CERTAIN ADDITIONAL EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

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  • 11:51:38 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

  • 11:51:58 AM

    MR. ISAKSON

  • 11:51:59 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM GEORGIA.

  • 11:52:01 AM

    MR. ISAKSON

    MR. PRESIDENT, THAT WOULD BE, I SUPPOSE, ABOUT 12 MINUTES EACH; IS THAT…

    MR. PRESIDENT, THAT WOULD BE, I SUPPOSE, ABOUT 12 MINUTES EACH; IS THAT CORRECT?

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  • 11:52:05 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE REPUBLICAN SIDE HAS 15 MINUTES.

  • 11:52:07 AM

    MR. ISAKSON

    OKAY. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE IN FULL SUPPORT OF…

    OKAY. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. MR. PRESIDENT, I RISE IN FULL SUPPORT OF THE EXTENSION OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE COMPENSATION, AND I RISE ALSO TO EXPRESS MY THANKS TO A NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THIS BODY. FIRST, AS EVERYBODY KNOWS, WE'LL SOON BE GOING TO ADOPT A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE COMPENSATION BILL BY SENATOR REID. SENATOR REID, THE MAJORITY LEADER, HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN SEEING TO IT THAT THIS BILL NOT ONLY PASSES BUT THAT ENHANCEMENTS ARE MADE TO THIS BILL TO HELP THE U.S. ECONOMY AND THAT IT'S TOTALLY PAID FOR AND IT'S A NET POSITIVE TO THE FEDERAL TREASURY. AND I APPRECIATE MORE THAN I CAN EXPRESS SENATOR REID'S HARD WORK TO HELP THIS TAKE PLACE. SECONDLY, I WANT TO THANK MAX BAUCUS, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE. SENATOR BAUCUS HAS -- AND HIS STAFF HAVE BEEN UNBELIEVABLY COOPERATIVE IN HELPING US TO FIND THE PAY-FORS TO MATCH AND ACTUALLY EXCEED THE COST OF THE HOME BUYER TAX CREDIT, WHICH WILL BE EXTENDED IN THIS LEGISLATION. SENATOR DODD, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BANKING COMMITTEE, THREE WEEKS AGO HOSTED A THREE-HOUR HEARING IN THE COMMITTEE ON THE HOUSING TAX CREDIT AND THE HOUSING MARKET, AND WITHOUT HIS GIVING US THAT TIME TO BRING FORWARD THE ISSUES THAT ARE SO PRESSING IN OUR COUNTRY TODAY, I'M NOT SURE WE'D BE STANDING HERE AT ALL. SO I'M GREATLY APPRECIATIVE TO SENATOR DODD. I PARTICULARLY WANT TO THANK CHRIS COOK ON MY STAFF FOR THE WORK THAT HE'S DONE IN HELPING THIS TO TAKE PLACE. AND LASTLY BUT NOT LEAST, I WANT TO THANK MR. RICHARD SMITH, A PRIVATE CITIZEN, A PERSON IN THE HOUSING INDUSTRY, WHO HAS DEDICATED COUNTLESS HOURS OF HIS LIFE IN THE LAST MONTH TO HELP EDUCATE PEOPLE ON THE POSITIVE EFFECTS WHAT WE'RE ABOUT TO DO WILL TAKE PLACE. AND BRIEFLY, MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO SAY THE FOLLOWING. WE LEARNED ABOUT EIGHT MONTHS AGO THAT A TAX CREDIT FOR FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS WORKED. IT WORKED TO BRING BACK THE MARKETPLACE IN ENTRY-LEVEL HOUSING IN MARKET AND IT BEGAN TO HELP US STABILIZE WHICH LED US IN LATE 2007 INTO THE DIFFICULTIES THAT WE'VE EXPERIENCED OVER THE LAST 20 MONTHS. BUT EXTENDING IT IS IMPORTANT AS LONG AS EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS PERMANENT EXTENSION WOULD BE BAD BAD. EXTENDING IT TO NEXT APRIL, WHICH THIS BILL DOES, WITH A CLOSING NO LATER THAN JUNE 30, ALLOWS THE AMERICAN HOUSING MARKET AND FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS TO BE ABLE TO EXERCISE THEIR RIGHT TO TAKE TAXES THAT THEY PAY, CONVERT IT TO EQUITY IN THE INVESTMENT IN AN APPRECIATING ACK SET AND HELP STICK -- ASSET AND HELP STIMULATE WHAT IS THE ROCK-SOLID BASE OF THE AMERICAN ECONOMY. WE ALSO ADDED AN ADDITION TO THE $8,000 TAX CREDIT FOR FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS, A MOVE-UP TAX CREDIT OF $6,500. AND THIS I THINK IS THE CORNERSTONE OF THE SUBSTITUTE THAT'S BEFORE US NOW. BECAUSE WHAT IT OFFERS IS TO ANY PREVIOUS HOMEOWNER WHO'S LIVED IN THEIR HOME FOR AT LEAST THE LAST FIVE YEARS, THEY HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO SELL THAT HOME, INVEST IN A NEW HOME AND TAKE UP TO A $6,500 TAX CREDIT. THAT IS GOING TO HELP US TO BOOST WHAT IS THE PROBLEM IN THE U.S. HOUSING ECONOMY TODAY AND THAT'S WHAT'S CALLED THE MOVE-UP MARKET. IT'S THE GENTLEMAN THAT'S TRANSFERRED FROM DELAWARE WITH HERCULES TO BRUNSWICK, GEORGIA, WHO CAN'T SELL HIS HOUSE IN WILMINGTON AND CAN'T BUY A HOUSE IF BRUNSWICK BECAUSE THE MARKETS ARE SO FROZEN AND THE MOVE-UP MARKET IS DEAD. NOW HE HAS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SELL THAT HOUSE AND HAVE INCENTIVE FOR ITS PURCHASE IN DELAWARE AND AN INCENTIVE TO COME TO REINVEST THAT MONEY IN GEORGIA IN A HOUSE IN BRUNSWICK. IT WILL MAKE A MEASURABLE DIFFERENCE OVER THE NEXT SEVEN MONTHS IN OUR ECONOMY. WE ALSO HAVE RAISED THE MEANS TEST ON INCOME FROM $75,000 AND $150,000, WHICH IS IN THE CURRENT CREDIT, TO $125,000 -- $150,000 AND $225,000 IN THE NEW BILL FOR BOAST MOVE-UP BUYERS AS WELL AS FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS. THOSE INCOME THRESHOLDS WILL OPEN THE INCENTIVE TO MORE AMERICANS AND I THINK WILL SHOW A MEASURABLE INCREASE IN THE AMOUNT OF BUSINESS THAT TAKES PLACE. IN RESPONSE TO THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE CONCERNS THAT WERE EXPRESSED A FEW MONTHS AGO ON FRAUD, WE PUT IN EVERY SINGLE REQUEST THEY MADE FOR FRAUD TO SEE TO IT THE H.U.D. 1 IS ATTACHED TO TAX STATEMENTS, TO SEE TO IT THERE'S NO FRAUDULENT CLAIM OF THE MONEY AND TO SEE TO IT, I.R.S. HAS EVERY TOOL THEY CAN TO PROSECUTE TO THE FULLEST ANYBODY WHO WOULD ABUSE THIS CREDIT. AND LASTLY, WE HAVE ONE EXEMPTION TO THE PAYBACK. AS THE PRESIDENT KNOWS, THE CREDIT HAS TO BE PAID BACK IF SOMEBODY SELLS THEIR HOUSE WITHIN THE FIRST THREE YEARS OF OCCUPANCY AND MOVES. THAT'S BECAUSE THEY'RE REQUIRED TO OWN IT AT LEAST THREE YEARS. BUT THAT PAY-FOR IS WAIVED OR THAT PAYBACK IS WAIVED IF THERE'S A MEMBER OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY THAT'S REDEPLOYED IN OUR MILITARY IN THE UNITED STATES OR OVERSEAS. IT'S JUST NOT RIGHT FOR THEM TO RESPOND TO OUR COUNTRY'S CALL AND THEN PENALIZE THEM ON THE TAX CREDIT IF THEY USED IT BEFORE BY NOT KNOWING THEY WOULD BE CALLED OR MOVED AGAIN. AGAIN, I WANT TO THANK SENATOR REID, SENATOR BAUCUS, I WANT TO THANK SENATOR BOND FOR THEIR TREMENDOUS WORK. I WANT TO THANK THE MEMBERS OF THIS BODY FOR THEIR POSITIVE VOTE OF 85-2 ON CLOTURE ON MONDAY NIGHT. AND HOPEFUL WHAT WILL BE A VERY POSITIVE VOTE TOMORROW NIGHT TO EXTEND AND PASS THE FIRST-TIME HOME BUYERS CREDIT AND ADD TO IT THE MOVE-UP BUYERS CREDIT. BUT I END WITH THIS TO EVERYBODY WHO HAS AN INTEREST, EVERYBODY WHO THINKS IT'S A GOOD OPPORTUNITY. IT IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY BUT IT ENDS APRIL THE 30th FOR CONTRACT DATE AND IT ENDS JUNE THE 30th FOR CLOSING DATE. IT WOULD NOT BE IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES OR OF THIS SENATE TO EXTEND THIS CREDIT FURTHER. PART OF THE BENEFIT OF A TAX CREDIT IS THE SCARCITY OR THE URGENCY OF ITS SUNSETTING. THIS TAX WILL SUNSET -- TAX CREDIT WILL SUNSET ON APRIL THE 30th OF 2010 AND IT WILL NOT BE EXTENDED. CLOSING WILL HAVE TO TAKE PLACE BY JUNE 30 OR IT WILL NOT COUNT. AND SO I URGE ALL AMERICANS WHO'VE ALWAYS DREAMED IF THERE'S A FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER OF HAVING A HOME OF THEIR OWN, OR AMERICANS WHO'VE BEEN GRIDLOCKED IN A FAILURE OF OUR MOVE-UP MARKET TO ACTUALLY MOVE UP AND WORK, YOU HAVE A SEVEN-MONTH OPPORTUNITY THAT IS GOOD FOR YOU AND IT'S GOOD FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND IT'S GOOD FOR THIS ECONOMY. AND I YIELD THE FLOOR BY THANKING ALL THE MEMBERS OF THIS BODY AND URGING THEM TO VOTE IN FAVOR OF THE ADOPTION OF THE SUBSTITUTE AND ULTIMATELY ON THE PASSAGE OF THE BILL. AND I YIELD BACK. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT?

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  • 11:58:15 AM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM RHODE ISLAND.

  • 11:58:17 AM

    MR. REED

    PRESIDENT, I, TOO, WANT TO COMMEND SEVERAL OF MY COLLEAGUES THAT HAVE…

    PRESIDENT, I, TOO, WANT TO COMMEND SEVERAL OF MY COLLEAGUES THAT HAVE BROUGHT US ONE STEP CLOSER TO PASSING AN EXTENSION OF UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION INSURANCE WHICH IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL IN THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, MILLIONS, INDEED, HAVE RUN OUT OF THEIR BENEFITS OR WILL ABOUT TO RUN OUT OF THEIR BENEFITS. THEY ARE FACING THE PROSPECT OF A TOUGH ECONOMY WITHOUT JOBS AND LOOKING FEVERISHLY AND NOT FINDING THEM AND NOT HAVING BASIC SUPPORT FOR THEIR FAMILIES. SO THIS IS CRITICAL. MAJORITY LEADER REID HAS HELPED IMMENSELY TOGETHER WITH CHAIRMAN BALK, BUT I PARTICULARLY WANT TO SINGLE OUT SENATOR ISAKSON AND SENATOR BUNNING. THEY HAVE WORKED COLLECTIVELY, COLLABORATIVELY TO BRING TO THIS BILL TWO OTHER MEASURES WHICH ARE CRITICAL. AS SENATOR ISAKSON JUST EXPLAINED, THE HOUSING TAX CREDIT. AND ONE OF THE REAL BENEFITS OF A -- THIS BODY WHEN IT WORKS WELL IS YOU'RE ABLE TO HAVE THE EXPERTISE AND THE JUDGMENT AND THE KNOWLEDGE OF SOMEONE LIKE SENATOR ISAKSON, WHO UNDERSTANDS BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE THE REAL ESTATE MARKET BECAUSE HE WAS A -- CAME UP THROUGH THAT BUSINESS. AND HIS VISION MONTHS AGO GAVE US THE OPTION TO MOVE FORWARD ON THIS HOMEOWNER'S TACK CREDIT. IT'S BEEN A HUGE -- HOMEOWNER'S TAX CREDIT. IT'S BEEN A HUGE SUCCESS AND IT'S MUCH TO THE CREDIT OF SENATOR ISAKSON. SENATOR BUNNING RECOGNIZES THE NEED FOR THE NET OPERATING LOSS FAVORABLE TREATMENT TO SMALL BUSINESSES. AND SO WHEN WE WORK TOGETHER POOLING OUR BEST IDEAS, WE CAN, IN FACT, CONTRIBUTE TO THE WELL-BEING OF AMERICANS ALL THROUGH COUNTRY, AND I THANK THOSE TWO GENTLEMEN. I WOULD HOPE AFTER WHAT I ANTICIPATE TO BE ANOTHER OVERWHELMING PROCEDURAL VOTE THAT WE COULD MOVE IMMEDIATELY TO CONSIDERATION OF FINAL PASSAGE OF THE UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION BILL TOGETHER WITH THE MEASURES THAT SENATOR ISAKSON AND SENATOR BUNNING HAVE INTRODUCED. I I HESITATE, BUT I WILL ADD THAT THERE'S BEEN 20-PLUS DAYS SINCE WE'VE BEEN CONSIDERING THIS UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION. WE'VE BEEN THROUGH NUMEROUS PROCEDURAL VOTES. THESE PROCEDURAL VOTES HAVE BEEN OVERWHELMING. MONDAY EVENING, 85-2. AND TYPICALLY WHEN WE HAVE THAT KIND OF UNDERLYING SUPPORT FOR A MEASURE, WE DON'T NEED 30 ADDITIONAL HOURS, PARTICULARLY NOW SINCE WE'RE CONSIDERING A BIPARTISAN BILL INCORPORATING UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION EXTENSIONS, FIRST-TIME HOMEBUYERS, TOGETHER WITH THE NET OPERATING LOSS TREATMENT FOR SMALL BUSINESS. SO I ANTICIPATE A SUCCESSFUL PROCEDURAL VOTE. I'D LIKE TO ANTICIPATE SWIFT AND UNANIMOUS PASSAGE, AND I HOPE THAT'S THE CASE. THE ISSUE OF UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL ALL ACROSS THIS COUNTRY. THERE IS NO PLACE TODAY IN THE UNITED STATES THAT DOES NOT SEE A SERIOUS CRISIS IN UNEMPLOYMENT. IN MY HOME STATE, 13% UNEMPLOYMENT RATE, AND MY ASSEMBLY WAS BRIEFED TODAY WITH A PREDICTION THAT THE RATE WILL PEAK SOMETIME NEXT YEAR AT 14%. THAT IS CRIPPLING IN TERMS OF ITS AFFECT ON FAMILIES. WE HAVE SEEN SOME PROGRESS IN OUR ECONOMY. WE SAW LAST WEEK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN A YEAR A GROWTH IN GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT, 3.5%. THE ECONOMY IS EXPANDING. WE'RE GROWING AGAIN. THE DOWNWARD COLLAPSE HAS STOPPED. WE'RE BEGINNING TO GROW. BUT, AS I SUGGESTED PREVIOUSLY ON THE FLOOR, YOU CAN'T FEED YOUR FAMILY G.D.P. YOU NEED A JOB. YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO WORK. YOU NEED TO HAVE THE CERTAINTY OF YOUR WORK, THAT IT WILL BE THERE, AND YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO HAVE THAT JOB TO PROVIDE FOR YOUR FAMILY. AND TO GIVE US THE CONFIDENCE WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO GROW AND EXPAND THE ECONOMY. ONE OF THE ECONOMIC EFFECTS WE'VE SEEN IS THE LAGGING CONSUMER CONSUMPTION, WHICH WAS A MAJOR DRIVING FORCE IN OUR ECONOMY, AND IT'S OBVIOUS WHEN PEOPLE ARE FRAID OF LOSING THEIR JOBS -- A ARE AFRAID OF LOSING THEIR JOBS, WHEN THEY HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS, THEIR CONSUMPTION IS OBVIOUSLY LIMITED. SO IN ORDER TO STAY IN OUR GROWTH, WE HAVE TO GO AHEAD AND REBUILD OUR EMPLOYMENT SITUATION. BUT WHAT WE HAVE TO DO IMMEDIATELY IS RECOGNIZE THERE ARE PEOPLE THAT ARE OUTJOBS. THEY HAVE WORKED ALL THEIR LIVES. MY COLLEAGUES HAVE COME TO THE FLOOR REPEATEDLY AND THEY HAVE READ -- SENATOR DURBIN AND SO MANY OTHERS -- LETTERS FROM CONSTITUENTS WHO HAVE WORKED ALL THEIR LIVES, HUSBAND AND WIFE, AND NOW THEY'RE FACED WITHOUT A JOB, THEY'RE FACED WITH THE LOSS OF THEIR INSURANCE BECAUSE THEIR COBRA IS RUNNING OUT FOR HEALTH CARE, THEY ARE WORRIED ABOUT LOSING THEIR HOMES, THEY ARE FOR THE FIRST TIME AT THE EDGE OF FINANCIAL RUIN, BEING HAVING ALREADY EXHAUSTED THEIR 401(K)'S JUST TO GET BY, JUST TO SURVIVE, ALL THEIR RETIREMENT BENEFITS, AND THESE ARE, YOU KNOW, PEOPLE WHO, AGAIN, HAD WORKED ALL THEIR LIVES. WE OWE THEM SOMETHING MORE THAN PROCEDURAL NICETIES OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE, AND I HOPE TODAY WE WILL PAY THAT DEBT TO THESE PEOPLE. SO, MR. PRESIDENT, WE ARE HERE ON THE VERGE -- I HOPE -- OF QUICK PASSAGE, NOT ADDITIONAL DELAY. WE HAVE TAKEN IT STEP BY STEP. IT'S BEEN THE LEADERSHIP OF MAJORITY LEADER REID AND CHAIRMAN BAUCUS, AND IT'S ALSO BEEN THE EXTRAORDINARY, I THINK, AND THOUGHTFUL CONTRIBUTION OF MY COLLEAGUES LIKE SENATOR BUNNING AND SENATOR ISAKSON. I HOPE NOW WITH THIS BIPARTISAN APPROACH WE CAN IN FACT NOT ONLY PROCEDURAL TAKE A FURTHER STEP BUT PICK UP THE PACE DRAMATICALLY TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE TODAY -- I HOPE. AND WITH THAT, MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD OBVIOUSLY URGE ALL OF MY COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT THIS MEASURE AND SUPPORT THE UNDERLYING LEGISLATION AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. AND, AT THIS JUNCTURE, MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 12:05:06 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL:

  • 12:05:37 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM RHODE ISLAND.

  • 12:05:39 PM

    MR. REED

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WOULD ASK FOR --

  • 12:05:43 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    QUORUM CALL.

  • 12:05:44 PM

    MR. REED

    TO DISPENSE WITH THE QUORUM CALL.

  • 12:05:46 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 12:05:48 PM

    MR. REED

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 12:05:52 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. AND, AGAIN, I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

  • 12:05:53 PM

    MR. REED

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. AND, AGAIN, I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

  • 12:05:56 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 12:08:16 PM

    MR. KYL

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 12:08:17 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE REPUBLICAN WHIP.

  • 12:08:18 PM

    MR. KYL

    I WOULD ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT FURTHER PROCEEDINGS UNDER THE QUORUM…

    I WOULD ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT FURTHER PROCEEDINGS UNDER THE QUORUM CALL BE DISPENSED WITH.

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  • 12:08:22 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 12:08:23 PM

    MR. KYL

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 12:14:45 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THANK YOU,

  • 12:14:46 PM

    MR. KYL

    THANK YOU,

  • 12:14:47 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM RHODE ISLAND.

  • 12:14:50 PM

    MR. REED

    NO TIME ON YOUR SIDE. 32 SECONDS ON THE OTHER SIDE.

  • 12:14:53 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    TIME ON YOUR SIDE. 32 SECONDS ON THE OTHER SIDE.

  • 12:14:55 PM

    MR. REED

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 12:15:09 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM RHODE ISLAND.

  • 12:15:11 PM

    MR. REED

    I WILL PROCEED FOR THE REMAINING SECONDS AND SIMPLY REMIND EVERYONE THAT…

    I WILL PROCEED FOR THE REMAINING SECONDS AND SIMPLY REMIND EVERYONE THAT WE'RE TAKING ANOTHER STEP TO EXPAND UNEMPLOYMENT COVERAGE AN ADDITIONAL 14 WEEKS FOR EVERY STATE AND SIX MORE WEEKS FOR THOSE STATES THAT HAVE UNEMPLOYMENT RATES ABOVE 8.5%. WE'RE INCORPORATING A HOMEBUYER TAX CREDIT THAT HAS WORKED REMARKABLY WELL, WE'RE ALSO INCORPORATING NET OPERATING LOSS TREATMENT FOR SMALL BUSINESS SO THEY CAN HAVE ADDITIONAL RESOURCES TO HIRE AMERICANS. THIS LEGISLATION IS IMPORTANT AND CRIT AND VITAL AND I -- CRITICAL AND VITAL. I HOPE IT IS ACCEPTED.

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  • 12:15:49 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE CLERK WILL REPORT THE MOTION TO INVOKE CLOTURE.

  • 12:15:53 PM

    THE CLERK: CLOTURE MOTION

  • 12:16:07 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    BY UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE AMENDATORY QUORUM CALL HAS BEEN WAIVED. THE…

    BY UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE AMENDATORY QUORUM CALL HAS BEEN WAIVED. THE QUESTION IS: IS IT THE ACCEPTS OF THE SENATE ON H.R. 3548, AN ACT TO AMEND THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT 2008 TO PROVIDE FOR THE TEMPORARY AVAILABILITY OF CERTAIN ADDITIONAL EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES SHALL BE BROUGHT TO A CLOSE. THE YEAS AND NAYS ARE MANDATORY UNDER THE RULE. THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. VOTE: VOTE:

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  • 12:16:41 PM

    Senate Vote 333 - On the Motion (Motion to Invoke Cloture on HR 3548)

    Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009

    Motion Agreed to (97 - 1)
    Yea

    Vote Details: Yea - 97
    Republican - 39
    Democratic - 56
    Independent - 2

    Vote Details: Nay - 1
    Republican - 1

  • 12:40:27 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE.

  • 12:40:51 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE.

  • 12:40:53 PM

    MR. GREGG

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE.

  • 12:41:06 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    CAN WE HAVE ORDER.

  • 12:41:08 PM

    MR. GREGG

    WILL THE SENATE BE IN ORDER, PLEASE.

  • 12:41:09 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    MADAM PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO SPEAK FOR TEN MINUTES AS IF IN…

    MADAM PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO SPEAK FOR TEN MINUTES AS IF IN MORNING BUSINESS.

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  • 12:41:13 PM

    MR. GREGG

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 12:41:18 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 12:41:19 PM

    MR. GREGG

  • 12:51:54 PM

    MRS. SHAHEEN

  • 12:51:55 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE.

  • 12:51:57 PM

    MRS. SHAHEEN

    THANK YOU, MADAM PRESIDENT. I -- I AGREE WITH MY COLLEAGUE FROM NEW…

    THANK YOU, MADAM PRESIDENT. I -- I AGREE WITH MY COLLEAGUE FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE THAT WE HAVE TOO MANY PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY WHO ARE STRUGGLING RIGHT NOW IN THIS RECESSION, THAT WE HAVE TOO MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE UNEMPLOYED, WHO NEED HELP UNTIL THEY CAN GET BACK ON THEIR FEET, FIND A NEW JOB, UNTIL THIS ECONOMY STARTS CREATING JOBS AGAIN. THAT'S WHY I'M HAVING SO MUCH TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING WHY IT HAS TAKEN THIS BODY IS HE BODY SO LONG -- FOUR WEEKS NOW -- TO EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE LOSING THEIR BENEFITS BEFORE THE END OF THIS YEAR. ALMOST 2 MILLION AMERICANS, AND WE'VE BEEN TRYING TO PASS AN EXTENSION OF UNEMPLOYMENT FOR THE LAST MONTH. SO, MADAM PRESIDENT, I RISE TO SPEAK IN SUPPORT OF THE WORKER, HOMEOWNERSHIP, AND BUSINESS ASSISTANCE ACT, A BILL THAT WILL EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS 14 WEEKS FOR UNEMPLOYED WORKERS IN EVERY STATE AND FOR AN ADDITIONAL SIX WEEKS IN THOSE STATES WITH OVER 8.5% UNEMPLOYMENT. AND I'M PLEASED THAT TODAY THE SENATE HAS VOTED BY AN OVERWHELMING MAJORITY -- 97-1 -- TO PROCEED TO THE FINAL PASSAGE OF THIS LEGISLATION. THIS BROAD, BIPARTISAN VOTE ACKNOWLEDGES THAT UNEMPLOYMENT AFFECTS EVERY COMMUNITY, EVERY STATE, EVERY PART OF OUR COUNTRY P. AND IN FACT, MADAM PRESIDENT, THIS IS THE THIRD VOTE WE'VE HAD NOW TO PROCEED TO THIS BILL. AND EVERY VOTE HAS PASSED OVERWHELMINGLY WITH A BIPARTISAN VOTE. BUT DESPITE THOSE STRONG VOTES IN SUPPORT OF THIS EXTENSION, OPPONENTS HAVE PUT UP OBSTACLES AT EVERY TURN TO DELAY THE PASSAGE OF THIS BILL. AND AS A RESULT OF THESE DELAYING TACTICS, APPROXIMATELY 200,000 WORKERS HAVE LOST THEIR BENEFITS IN THIS LAST MONTH. NOW, HOPEFULLY AFTER FOUR LONG WEEKS, THE END IS IN SIGHT. AND SOON PEOPLE LIKE RICHARD, ONE OF MY CONSTITUENTS FROM WINCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE, WHO CALLED MY OFFICE YESTERDAY, WILL GET THE HELP THAT HE DESPERATELY NEEDS. RICHARD IS A SINGLE FATHER OF THREE BOYCE. HE LOST HIS JOB AS A MACHINIST AT GREENFIELD TAP AND DYE PLANT. IT IS A SMALL MANUFACTURING PLANTS IN THE SOUTHWESTERN PART OF THE STATE. HE LOST THAT JOB MORE THAN A YEAR AGO, AND SINCE THENCE A BEEN USING HIS SAVINGS, HIS UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS TO PAY HIS MORTGAGE, TO BUY FOOD, TO BUY GAS, AND TO PAY FOR OTHER NECESSITIES. NOW, RICHARD HAS BEEN OUT LOOKING FOR OTHER MANUFACTURING JOBS, BUT NO ONE IS WILLING TO HIRE HIM UNTIL THIS ECONOMY IMPROVES. THAT, I WOULD POINT OUT, IS WHAT THIS SENATE HAS BEEN WORKING ON, AND I WOULD DISAGREE RESPECT RESPECTFULLY WITH MY COLLEAGUE FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE THAT MUCH OF THE EFFORT THAT WE HAVE DONE HERE IN THE SENATE HAS BEEN TO TRY AND SUPPORT THE ECONOMY SO THAT IT DOES IMPROVE, SO THAT WE CAN CREATE JOBS AGAIN. NOW, WE'RE ON THE CUSP OF FINALLY PASSING THIS LEGISLATION TO HELP RICHARD AND HIS FAMILY AND THE MILLIONS OF OTHER JOBLESS AMERICANS WHOSE BENEFITS ARE GOING TO RUN OUT, TO HELP THEM GET THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS. MADAM PRESIDENT, AS I'VE SAID MANY TIMES, WHEN WE EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT, WE'RE NOT JUST HELPING THOSE WORKERS WHOSE BENEFITS HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED; WE'RE HELPING THE SMALL BUSINESSES THAT PROVIDE THE GOODS AND SERVICES THAT THE UNEMPLOYED ARE GOING TO NEED AND THEY'RE GOING TO GO OUT AND THEY'RE GOING TO SPEND THOSE UNEMPLOYMENT CHECKS ON THOSE GOODS AND SERVICES SO THAT FOR EVERY DOLLAR WE SPEND ON UNEMPLOYMENT, IT TURNS OVER $1.61 IT PRODUCES IN THE ECONOMY. PEOPLE COLLECTING UNEMPLOYMENT SPEND THEIR BENEFITS IMMEDIATELY ON NECESSITIES TO KEEP THEIR FAMILIES GOING, WHICH MEANS THAT THESE DOLLARS GET INTO COMMUNITIES ALMOST AS SOON AS THE CHECKS ARRIVE. ECONOMISTS SAY THAT DOLLAR FOR DOLLAR, EXTENDING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IS ONE OF THE MOST COST-EFFECTIVE ACTIONS WE CAN TAKE TO STIMULATE THE ECONOMY. SO PASSING THIS EXTENSION IS THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR UNEMPLOYED WORKERS AND FOR OUR COMMUNITIES. MADAM PRESIDENT, I LOOK FORWARD TO PASSING THIS EXTENSION FOR RICHARD AND FOR THE MILLIONS OF AMERICANS WHO ARE COUNTING ON US TO AFNLGT ACT. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I YIELD THE FLOOR AND I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 12:56:41 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL:

  • 12:56:58 PM

    Quorum Call

  • 01:18:49 PM

    MR. BURRIS

    MADAM PRESIDENT?

  • 01:18:50 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS.

  • 01:18:52 PM

    MR. BURRIS

    MADAM PRESIDENT, I ASK THAT THE QUORUM CALL BE SUSPENDED.

  • 01:18:55 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 01:18:56 PM

    MR. BURRIS

    AND, MADAM PRESIDENT, I ASK PERMISSION TO SPEAK AS IF IN MORNING BUSINESS.

  • 01:19:01 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 01:19:04 PM

    MR. BURRIS

    THANK YOU, MADAM PRESIDENT. TWO MONTHS AGO, I STOOD ON THE FLOOR OF THIS…

    THANK YOU, MADAM PRESIDENT. TWO MONTHS AGO, I STOOD ON THE FLOOR OF THIS CHAMBER AND MADE A SOLEMN COMMITMENT. IT'S A COMMITMENT I'VE RESTATED ALMOST EVERY DAY THAT THIS SESSION HAS BEEN IN SESSION AND I WILL SAY IT ONCE AGAIN TODAY. I WILL NOT VOTE FOR ANY HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL THAT FAILS TO > UNFORTUNATELY, THERE HAVE BEEN A GREAT DEAL OF MISINFORMATION ABOUT WHAT THE PUBLIC OPTION IS REALLY ABOUT AND WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO ORDINARY AMERICANS, SO LET'S CUT THROUGH THE DISTRACTIONS AND THE SCARE TACTICS AND TALK SERIOUSLY. LET'S DEFINE EXACTLY WHAT A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION MEANS. WE HEAR PEOPLE TALK ABOUT PUBLIC OPTIONS AND TRIGGERS AND OPT-OUT AND OPT-INS AND ALL KINDS OF OTHER PROPOSALS. SOME PEOPLE THROW THOSE WORDS AROUND INTERCHANGEABLY. BUT WORDS ARE IMPORTANT AND THIS IS NOT SOME ABSTRACT IDEA. THIS IS A REAL SET OF PROPOSALS THAT WILL AFFECT REAL PEOPLE IN REAL WAYS. SO LET'S DEFINE EXACTLY WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT. A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION IS ABOUT THREE THINGS: COMPETITION, LOWER COST, AND ACCOUNTABILITY. THAT'S WHY A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION IS ESSENTIAL TO ACHIEVE REAL, MEANINGFUL REFORM. NOW, WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT WE NEED TO FIX OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM NOW BUT LET'S ALSO AGREE TO FIX IT THE RIGHT WAY. FIRST AND FOREMOST, A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION MUST CREATE TRUE COMPETITION IN HEALTH CARE INSURANCE MARKET. A KEY PROBLEM WITH HEALTH COVERAGE IS THAT CONSUMERS DO NOT HAVE ANY OPTIONS. IN AMERICA TODAY, ONLY TWO INDUSTRIES ARE NOT BOUND BY ANTITRUST LAWS THAT APPLY TO EVERY OTHER BUSINESS IN THIS COUNTRY: HEALTH CARE INSURANCE AND MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL. WHENEVER OTHER PRIVATE ENTERPRISES HAVE TO COMPETE IN THE OPEN MARKET FOR THEIR BUSINESS, WHY DOES BIG INSURANCE DESERVE SPECIAL TREATMENT? IN MY OPINION, THEY DON'T, MADAM PRESIDENT. IN SUCH A HIGHLY CONCENTRATED ENVIRONMENT, THERE IS NO INCENTIVE TO, THERE IS NO REASON TO IMPROVE SERVICE, EXPAND ACCESS OR WORK WITH PATIENTS AND DOCTORS TO ACHIEVE BETTER HEALTH OUTCOMES. IN FACT, THERE'S EVERY INCENTIVE TO DO JUST THE OPPOSITE. WE'VE SEEN UNPRECEDENTED CONSOLIDATION IN THE INSURANCE MARKET AND THAT HAS LED TO A LACK OF COMPETITION AND CHOICE FOR AMERICAN CONSUMERS. THE PAST 13 YEARS, THERE HAVE BEEN MORE THAN 400 CORPORATE MERGERS INVOLVING HEALTH INSURERS. AND AS A RESULT, 94% OF OUR NATION'S HEALTH MARKETS ARE NOW CONSIDERED -- AND I QUOTE -- "HIGHLY CONCENTRATED," MEANING THAT THEY ARE VIRTUAL MONOPOLIES. IN MY HOME STATE OF ILLINOIS, JUST TWO COMPANIES CONTROL 69% OF OUR MARKET, AND SADLY, ILLINOIS IS FAR FROM ALONE. IN ALABAMA, A SINGLE COMPANY CONTROLS ALMOST 90% OF THE MARKET. AND IN IOWA, RHODE ISLAND, ARKANSAS, HAWAII, ALASKA, VERMONT, WYOMING, MAINE AND MONTANA, THE TWO LARGEST INSURANCE COMPANIES CONTROL AT LEAST 80% OF THE MARKET.IN FACT, IN FACT, MADAM PRESIDENT, THERE ARE ONLY THREE STATES IN THE UNITED STATES WHERE THE MAJOR COMPANIES CONTROL LESS THAN 50% OF THE INSURANCE MARKET. MADAM PRESIDENT, THIS MUST END. WE MUST RESTORE COMPETITION AND CHOICE TO THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY. IT'S TIME TO CREATE A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION THAT WILL ENSURE -- THAT ENSURES IT WILL COMPETE FOR PEOPLE'S BUSINESS, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER COMPANY IN AMERICA. A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION WOULD GIVE PEOPLE A CHOICE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DECADES. NO ONE WOULD BE FORCED TO CHANGE THEIR COVERAGE, BUT IF THEIR CURRENT PROVIDER ISN'T TREATING THEM RIGHT, THEY DESERVE THE OPPORTUNITY CHOOSE SOMETHING BETTER AND MORE AFFORDABLE. WHICH BRINGS ME TO MY NEXT POINT POINT. IN ORDER TO ACHIEVE REAL REFORM, A PUBLIC OPTION MUST BE STRONG ENOUGH TO SIGNIFICANTLY LOWER COSTS. EVERY MEMBER OF THIS SENATE KNOWS WHAT AMERICA PAYS FOR INSURANCE. $1 OUT OF EVERY $6 WE SPEND IN THIS COUNTRY GOES TO PAY FOR HEALTH CARE. HEALTH OUTCOMES ARE DOWN BUT SOMEHOW INSURANCE COMPANY PROFITS ARE THROUGH THE ROOF. THIS DOES NOT MAKE SENSE, MADAM PRESIDENT. PREMIUMS ARE RISING FOUR TIMES FASTER THAN WAGES. IN FACT, BETWEEN 2000-2007, TEN OF THE COUNTRY'S TOP INSURANCE COMPANIES INCREASED THEIR PROFITS BY AN AVERAGE OF 428%. NOW, THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH MAKING A PROFIT. I THINK ALL BUSINESSES SHOULD MAKE A PROFIT. BUT THERE IS -- THERE IS NOTHING FAIR ABOUT CREATING A MONOPOLY AND THEN WRINGING MONEY OUT OF SICK AMERICANS WHO ARE COUNTING ON THEM IN THEIR HOUR OF NEED. NOT ONLY ARE THESE -- THERE ARE ALMOST 50 MILLION AMERICANS WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE, THERE'S ALSO A MASSIVE SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION WHO CAN'T AFFORD WHAT LITTLE COVERAGE THEY HAVE. THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DESERVE THE CHANCE TO SHOP AROUND, TO COMPARE OPTIONS AND PICK PLANS THAT'S RIGHT FOR THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES OR SMALL BUSINESSES. IF PRIVATE COMPANIES HAVE TO COMPETE WITH A STRONG PUBLIC PLAN, PEOPLE'S PREMIUMS WILL COME DOWN, COMPANIES WILL BRING COSTS UNDER CONTROL AND THIS WILL HELP SAVE MONEY. BUT IT'S NOT JUST THE COSTS THAT WILL IMPROVE. PROVIDERS WILL ALSO IMPROVE QUALITY OF COVERAGE. THEY START TO FOCUS PATIENT OUTCOMES RATHER THAN PROFITS. AND AS A RESULT, BETTER CARE WILL BECOME AVAILABLE TO MORE PEOPLE. A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION WILL REQUIRE SOME CAPITAL TO GET OFF THE GROUND, JUST LIKE ANY OTHER BUSINESS, BUT AFTER THAT, IT WOULD RELY ON THE PREMIUMS IT COLLECTS TO REMAIN SELF-SUFFICIENT. IT WOULD OPERATE LIKE A NOT-FOR-PROFIT INSURANCE COMPANY COMPANY, SETTING AFFORDABLE RATES BASED ON THE ACTUAL COST OF CARE, NOT A DESIRE TO GIVE GIANT BONUSES TO THEIR EXECUTIVES AND BAY DIVIDENDS TO THEIR -- PAY DIVIDENDS TO THEIR STOCKHOLDERS. THE CURRENT SYSTEM IS A DRAIN ON THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER 6 THAT A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION WOULD NOT BE. IT WOULD NOT BE A HANDOUT. IT WOULD NOT FORCE ANYONE TO CHANGE THEIR CURRENT COVERAGE BUT IT WOULD DRIVE COSTS DOWN AND GIVE PEOPLE A REAL CHOICE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN DECADES. A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION WOULD GIVE -- WOULD PROVIDE A CHEAPER ALTERNATIVE TO PRIVATE COMPANIES AND WOULD FORCE THOSE COMPANIES TO IMPROVE THEIR PRODUCT OR RISK LOSING CUSTOMERS. AND THAT BRINGS ME TO THE THIRD GOAL WE MAWS MUST ACHIEVE WITH REAL HEALTH CARE REFORM. A PUBLIC OPTION MUST BE STRONG ENOUGH TO BRING REAL ACCOUNTABILITY TO THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY. FAR TOO LONG, PRIVATE INSURANCE PROVIDERS HAVE BEEN RIDING ROUGHSHOD OVER THE AMERICAN PUBLIC. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, THOSE MOST IN NEED ARE THE ONES WHO SUFFER THE WORST ABUSE. THERE'S A LOT OF MONEY TO BE MADE OFF OF THE POOR. MADAM PRESIDENT, I WILL REPEAT THAT STATEMENT. THERE'S A LOT OF MONEY TO BE MADE OFF OF THE POOR, AND INSURANCE COMPANIES DON'T STEAM MIND RAKING IN THE CASH AT THEIR EXPENSE. PRIVATE INSURANCE COMPANIES HAVE DROPPED YOUR COVERAGE FOR ALMOST ANY REASON. THEY ROUTINELY EXPLOIT MINOR TECHNICALITIES TO AVOID PAYING CLAIMS TO THOSE WHO NEED ASSISTANCE THE MOST. THESE COMPANIES CONTINUE TO LOOK AT NEW AND INNOVATIVE WAYS TO DENY COVERAGE TO SICK AMERICANS BECAUSE THEY KNOW THESE PEOPLE HAVE NOWHERE ELSE TO TURN. A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION COUPLED WITH THE REST OF OUR INSURANCE REFORM WILL CHANGE ALL OF THAT. OUR REFORMS WOULD MAKE IT ILLEGAL TO DENY COVERAGE BECAUSE OF PREEXISTING CONDITION. A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION WILL ALLOW PEOPLE TO SHOP AROUND IF THEY DON'T LIKE THE COVERAGE THEY HAVE OR IF THEY'RE PAYING TOO MUCH. AS THE SYSTEM EXISTS TODAY, THE HEALTH INSURANCE CORPORATION ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO THEIR SHAREHOLDERS FIRST AND THEIR CUSTOMERS SECOND. A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION WILL REVERSE THAT. IT WILL PRIORITIZE PATIENT OVER PROFIT, IT WOULD GIVE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THE CHANCE TO HOLD THEIR COMPANIES ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MANY YEARS YEARS. SO, MADAM PRESIDENT, THAT IS WHY I SUPPORT A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION OPTION. THAT'S WHAT IT MEANS -- WOULD MEAN TO AMERICA: COMPETITION, COST SAVINGS, ACCOUNTABILITY. UNLESS WE'RE ABLE TO MEET THESE THREE CONDITIONS IN THE BILL, I WILL NOT VOTE FOR IT. I BELIEVE THAT A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION IS THE BEST WAY TO ACHIEVE THESE GOALS. IN FACT, MY PREFERENCE IS TO HAVE A ROBUST PLAN THAT WILL BE TIED TO MEDICARE. BUT WHATEVER FORM THE LEGISLATION TAKE, I WOULD ULTIMATELY JUDGE IT BASED ON ITS ABILITY TO BRING ABOUT REAL COMPETITION, LOWER COSTS, AND RESTORED ACCOUNTABILITY. SO, MADAM PRESIDENT, IT IS TIME TO MAKE GOOD ON THE PROMISE FIRST ARTICULATED BY TEDDY ROOSEVELT ALMOST 100 YEARS AGO. IT'S TIME MAKE COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH CARE REFORM A REALITY. AND AFTER A CENTURY OF DEBATE, WE ARE FACED WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING TRULY HISTORIC. IF WE DO THIS NOW AND IF WE DO THIS RIGHT, WE CAN MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF AMERICANS. AND THAT'S WHY I WILL NOT STOP FIGHTING UNTIL THIS FIGHT HAS BEEN WON. I ASK MY COLLEAGUES TO JOIN ME TO MAKE SURE AMERICA HAS ACCESSIBLE -- HAVE ACCESS TO QUALITY, AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE THROUGH A SYSTEM THAT IS COMPETITIVE, COST-EFFECTIVE, AND ACCOUNTABLE. AND WITH THAT, MADAM PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR AND ASK -- RECOGNIZE THAT -- A QUORUM.

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  • 01:30:10 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL:

  • 01:31:01 PM

    Quorum Call

  • 02:04:00 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM NEW MEXICO.

  • 02:04:07 PM

    MR. UDALL

    MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK THE QUORUM CALL BE DISPENSED WITH.

  • 02:04:10 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE SENATOR IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 02:04:13 PM

    MR. UDALL

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO SPEAK ABOUT THE NEED FOR ADDITIONAL POLICIES TO…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO SPEAK ABOUT THE NEED FOR ADDITIONAL POLICIES TO CREATE JOBS IN OUR COUNTRY AND ABOUT HOW ENERGY LEGISLATION CAN HELP TO ACCOMPLISH THAT GOAL. FIRST, LET ME MAKE A POINT THAT I MADE LAST WEEK HERE ON THE SENATE FLOOR. THAT IS THAT DESPITE THE RECENT POSITIVE ECONOMIC NEWS, CONGRESS NEEDS TO TAKE ADDITIONAL STEPS IF WE'RE GOING TO CREATE THE JOBS THAT WE NEED IN THIS COUNTRY. THE ECONOMY HAS LOST 7.2 MILLION JOBS DURING THIS RECESSION. ONE OUT OF EVERY 20 JOBS IN THE COUNTRY. IN PERCENTAGE TERMS, THIS IS THE BIGGEST JOB LOSS SINCE THE RECESSION IN 1948 AND 1949. THIS CHART VIVIDLY DESCRIBES THE JOBS DEFICIT THAT WE ARE SEEING HERE. THE HEADING HERE IS "NOT ENOUGH JOB CREATION TO MAINTAIN EMPLOYMENT AT LEVEL IN JANUARY, 2001." LET ME EXPLAIN THAT A LITTLE BIT. THESE JOB LOSSES THAT WE HAVE EXPERIENCED IN THIS RECESSION ADD TO THE JOBS DEFICIT THAT HAS BEEN ACCUMULATING OVER THE LAST NINE YEARS. THE COUNTRY NEEDS, OUR ECONOMY NEEDS 12 MILLION NEW JOBS IN ORDER TO BRING EMPLOYMENT BACK TO WHERE IT WAS AT THE END OF THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION. ECONOMISTS EXPECT THE JOBS REPORT THAT COMES UP IN TWO DAYS, THIS FRIDAY, TO SHOW EVEN MORE JOBS WERE LOST IN OCTOBER OF THIS YEAR. WE SHOULD NOT IN MY VIEW OVERLOOK THE POSITIVE NEWS ABOUT THE ECONOMY THAT WAS REPORTED LAST WEEK. GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT JUMPED TO 3.5% IN THE THIRD QUARTER. A COMPLETE TURNAROUND FROM THE 6.4% DECLINE IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF THIS YEAR. IT'S REPORTED THAT THE RECOVERY ACT HAS CREATED OR SAVED ONE MILLION JOBS, 640,000 THROUGH DIRECT SPENDING ALONE. THE RECOVERY ACT IS WORKING BUT CONGRESS STILL NEEDS TO TAKE ADDITIONAL ACTION. WE NEED ADDITIONAL POLICIES TO CREATE JOBS IF WE'RE GOING TO PREVENT THIS RECOVERY FROM BEING A JOBLESS RECOVERY MUCH LIKE THE PREVIOUS TWO RECOVERIES THAT WE HAD FROM RECESSIONS. LET ME GO INTO ANOTHER CHART HERE. THIS CHART IS TITLED "JOB LOSSES CONTINUED FOR MONTHS AFTER THE RECESSIONS IN 1990-1991 AND IN 2001. WHAT THE CHART SHOWS IS THAT -- IT SHOWS THE CHANGE IN THE NUMBER OF JOBS DURING THE RECESSIONS, THE TWO RECESSIONS I'VE REFERRED TO, 1990-1991 AS ONE RECESSION, AND 2001 AS -- AS ANOTHER RECESSION. AND DURING THE MONTHS AFTER THOSE RECESSIONS ENDED, THE JOB LOSSES CONTINUED. AS YOU CAN SEE, THE ECONOMY CONTINUED TO SHED JOBS FOR TWO MONTHS AFTER THE 1990-1991 RECESSION ENDED -- THAT IS THE GREEN LINE HERE YOU CAN SEE -- AND AFTER THE 2001 RECESSION, JOB LOSSES CONTINUED FOR A STAGGERING 18 MONTHS. NOT TWO MONTHS BUT 18 MONTHS AT THAT TIME. THIS IS THE PARADOX OF THE RECOVERIES FROM THE PAST TWO RECESSIONS. G.D.P. BEGAN TO GROW, AS IT NOW HAS IN OUR OWN PERIOD, WITH THE RESULTS OF THIS LAST QUARTER. G.D.P. DID BEGIN TO GROW BUT THE CONTINUE CONTINUED TO LOSE JOBS. WHEN JOBS FINALLY DID RETURN, THEY RETURNED VERY SLOWLY. LET ME GO TO ANOTHER CHART HERE. THIS CHART IS ENTITLED, "UNEMPLOYMENT RATE CONTINUED TO RISE AFTER THE RECESSIONS IN 1990-1991 AND 2001." THIS CHART SHOWS WHAT HAPPENED TO THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE. THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ROSE FOR 16 MONTHS AFTER THE 1990-1991 RECESSION ENDED. THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE ROSE FOR 20 MONTHS AFTER THE 2001 RECESSION ENDED. SO EVEN FIVE YEARS AFTER THE 2001 RECESSION ENDED, MORE PEOPLE WERE OUT OF WORK THAN BEFORE THAT RECESSION BEGAN. SO CONGRESS NEEDS TO TAKE STEPS TO ENSURE THAT THE RECOVERY THIS TIME ARE DIFFERENT. THE TAX CUTS WERE MEANT TO STIMULATE JOB GROWTH BUT AT PARENT NOW THAT THEY FAILED TO DO SO. THOSE TAX CUTS WERE TOO BLUNT AN INSTRUMENT TO DO THE JOB. THEY WERE NOT FOLK USED ENOUGH ON -- THEY WERE NOT FOCUSED ENOUGH ON CREATING JOBS. AND THE $4 TRILLION HOLE THAT THEY DUG IN THE FEDERAL BUDGET HAS MADE IT HARDER FOR US TO RECOVER FROM THE CURRENT RECESSION. SO THE COUNTRY NEEDS POLICIES MORE TARGETED ON JOB CREATION. LAST WEEK I OUTLINED FOUR IDEAS THAT CONGRESS SHOULD CONSIDER: A JOBS CREATION TAX CREDIT; SECOND, A MANUFACTURING TAX CREDIT; THIRD, EMERGENCY BRIDGE LOANS TO HOMEOWNERS TO KEEP THEM IN THEIR HOMES, AND FOURTH; ADDITIONAL AID TO STATES T. SHOULD BE NOTED THATSTATES.IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE AID TO STATES THAT HAS ALREADY BEEN PROVIDED HAS BEEN EFFECTIVE AT SAVING HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF TEACHERS' JOBS. 325,000 OF THE 640,000 JOBS CREATED OR SAVED BY THE RECOVERY ACCOUNT WERE JOBS IN EDUCATION. CONGRESS SHOULD CONSIDER PROVIDING ADDITIONAL AID TO STATES TO HELP CLOSE THOSE BUDGET SHORTFALLS WHICH ARE PROJECTED, CUMULATIVE BUDGET SHORTFALLS ARE PROJECTED TO TOTAL $175 BILLION FOR THE STATES OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS. LET ME TURN NOW TO ANOTHER ACTION THAT WE SHOULD TAKE TO CREATE JOBS. TO CREATE JOBS, IN MY VIEW CONGRESS SHOULD GO AHEAD AT THE EARLIEST POSSIBLE TIME TO ENACT THE AMERICAN CLEAN ENERGY LEADERSHIP ACT. THIS IS LEGISLATION THAT WAS REPORTED OUT OF OUR ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE IN JUNE OF THIS YEAR. WHERE IT RECEIVED BIPARTISAN SUPPORT. THE VOTE THERE WAS 15 IN FAVOR OF REPORTING THAT LEGISLATION AND 8 MEMBERS VOTED AGAINST IT. THIS ENERGY BILL THAT I'M REFERRING TO IS A JOBS BILL. THE ENERGY BILL COULD CREATE 350,000 TO 500,000 JOBS OVER THE NEXT DECADE. IT WOULD CREATE JOBS BY INCREASING THE AMOUNT OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT THAT IS SUPPORTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. IT WOULD CREATE JOBS BY INCREASING THE DEMAND FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY BY ESTABLISHING A RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY STANDARD STANDARD. IT WOULD CREATE JOBS BY FINANCING THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW CLEAN POWER PLANTS THROUGH THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A CLEAN ENERGY DEPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION. AND IT WOULD CREATE JOBS BY PROMOTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY RETROFITS FOR HOMES AND FOR COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS. THESE ARE JOBS THAT CANNOT BE OUTSOURCED. AND IT WOULD CREATE JOBS BY BUILDING NEW ENERGY -- NEW CLEAN ENERGY INDUSTRIES AND IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY THROUGHOUT THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR. REDUCING ENERGY USAGE MEANS REDUCING THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS WHICH WILL MAKE AMERICAN BUSINESSES MORE COMPETITIVE IN THE GLOBAL MARKET AND ALLOW THEM TO EXPAND AND TO CREATE JOBS IN THE UNITED STATES. THIS IS PART OF WHAT THIS ENERGY BILL IS ALL ABOUT: CREATING JOBS, MAKING THE UNITED STATES MORE COMPETITIVE IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY. THE ENERGY BILL WOULD POSITION OUR COUNTRY TO LEAD IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES, WHICH IS A RAPIDLY GROWING INDUSTRIAL SEGMENT THAT I BELIEVE WILL BE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT SECTORS OF INDUSTRY IN THE 21st CENTURY. IT WILL ALSO MAKE OUR ECONOMY STRONGER BY ENABLING BUSINESSES TO NOWISH IN OTHER AREAS OF THE ECONOMY. BEFORE ELABORATING ON SOME OF THE PROVISIONS IN THAT BILL, LET ME GIVE A CONCRETE EXAMPLE OF HOW FORWARD THINKING ENERGY LEGISLATION HAS THE EFFECT OF CREATING JOBS FOR MIDDLE-CLASS AMERICANS. IN SEPTEMBER OF THIS YEAR, THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AWARDED FISKER AUTOMOTIVE A $525 BILLION LOAN THAT WAS CREATED BY THE ENERGY INDEPENDENCE AND SECURITY ACT OF 2007. THIS LAST WEEK, FISKER ANNOUNCED THAT IT WILL BE REOPENING PREVIOUSLY A GENERAL MOTORS PLANT IN DELAWARE THAT HAS BEEN SHUT DOWN AND IT WILL USE THAT PLANT TO PRODUCE A PLUG-IN HIEB RID CAR. HYBRID CAR. THE NEW FISKER PLANT WILL EMPLOY 2,000 PEOPLE AND INDIRECTLY CREATE ANOTHER 3,000 JOBS IN THE SURROUNDING AREAS. SO NOT ONLY WILL CONSUMERS BENEFIT FROM THE INCREASED CHOICES THAT THEY HAVE IN ENERGY-EFFICIENT AUTOMOBILES, AMERICAN WORKERS WILL BENEFIT FROM INCREASED CLEAN ENERGY JOBS. SIMILAR GOOD-NEWS STORIES CAN BE TOLD BY NEW OR RETOOLED FACTORIES IN MICHIGAN, INDIANA AND TENNESSEE AS WELL. THE CLEAN ENERGY -- THE AMERICAN CLEAN ENERGY LEADERSHIP ACT THAT I'VE BEEN REFERRING TO WOULD PROVIDE MORE LOANS OF THIS KIND BY CREATING THIS CLEAN ENERGY DEPLOYMENT ADMINISTRATION OR CEDA. CEDA WILL BE AN INDEPENDENT AGENCY WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY WHOSE MISSION WILL BE TO SUPPORT THE FINANCING OF LOW-CARBON ENERGY PROJECTS. FOR EXAMPLE, CEDA COULD PROVIDE LOANS AND LOAN GUARANTEES OR OTHER CREDIT ENHANCEMENTS TO ENABLE THE CONSTRUCTION OF POWER PLANTS THAT PRODUCE RENEWABLE ENERGY OR FACTORIES THAT MAKE WIND TURBINES ON OTHER COMPONENTS. CEDA WILL ALSO CREATE FINANCIAL MECHANISMS TO ALLOW AFFORDABLE FINANCING FOR ENERGY-EFFICIENCY RETROFITS AND DISTRIBUTED GENERATION IN ENTIRE COMMUNITIES. THIS NEW AGENCY WILL GIVE SPECIAL FOCUS TO HIGH-RISK, HIGH-REWARD TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE OTHERWISE DIFFICULT TO FINANCE. ADDITIONAL FINANCING IS CRITICAL AT THIS TIME, WHEN ENERGY -- WHEN CREDIT MARKETS ARE STILL VERY TIGHT AND PRIVATE INVESTORS ARE RELUCTANT TO TAKE ON EVEN LOW-RISK COMMERCIAL PROJECTSMENT. IN THE FIRST QUARTER OF 2009, INVESTMENTS IN RENEWABLE ENERGY TOTALED ONLY $500 MILLION, JUST 1/10th OF THE $5 BILLION INVESTED IN THE SAME PERIOD THE YEAR BEFORE. EVEN WHEN FINANCIAL MARKETS RECOVER, BANKS ARE LEARY OF THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND WITHOUT SETA, WHICH WE ARE CREATING IN THIS LEGISLATION, TO FILL THE GAP, WE RUN THE RISK OF THESE INVESTMENTS CONTINUING TO BE MADE OVERSEAS WHERE MARKET CONDITIONS ARE BETTER FOR INNOVATIVE CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES. SETA WILL BE CAPITALIZED UNDER THE LEGISLATION AT $10 BILLION AND APPROPRIATED -- IN APPROPRIATED FUNDS THAT CAN CONSERVATIVELY SUPPORT FEDERAL LENDING OF APPROXIMATELY $100 BILLION. COMBINED WITH FUNDS FROM PRIVATE PARTNERS, A REASONABLE ESTIMATE WOULD LEAD TO $20 BILLION WORTH OF CLEAN ENERGY PROJECTS. SEVMENT TA COULD POTENTIALLY BE SCALED UP, ENABLING IT TO CREATE EVEN MORE JOBS. THE ENERGY BILL ALSO WOULD ESTABLISH A RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY STANDARD OR R.E.S., FOR THE FIRST TIME TO COVER OUR ENTIRE ECONOMY. THIS POLICY WOULD REQUIRE ELECTRICITY COMPANIES TO GET 15% OF THEIR POWER FROM RENEWABLE SOURCES BY 2021, WITH AN EXEMPTION FOR SMALL-SCALE UTILITY COMPANIES. BY INCREASING THE DEMAND FOR CLEAN ENERGY, THE RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY STANDARD WILL PROMOTE THE CONSTRUCTION OF NEW WIND FARMS, NEW SOLAR POWER PLANTS AND NEW GEOTHERMAL PLANTS. A VARIETY OF OTHER NEW CLEAN TECHNOLOGIES WILL ALSO QUALIFY; TECHNOLOGIES SUCH AS HYDRO AND BIOMASS AND OCEAN POWER. CONSTRUCTION OF THESE PLANTS AND MANUFACTURING THE COMPONENTS NEEDED FOR THESE COMPLAINTS COULD CREATE AN ADDITIONAL 100 100,000 TO 125,000 JOBS BY 20256789 NOITION THIS RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY STANDARD, THE ENERGY BILL INCLUDES POLICIES TO STRENGTHEN THE NATION'S ELECTRICITY TRANSMISSION GRID, INCREASE THE PRODUCTION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY ON PUBLIC LANDS. THESE POLICIES WOULD COMPLEMENT THE RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY STANDARD THAT I'VE JUST DESCRIBED. IMPROVING ENERGY EFFICIENCY IS A COST-EFFECTIVE WAY TO REDUCE THE ENERGY COSTS TO HOMEOWNERS AND IMPROVE THE COMPETITIVENESS OF U.S. BUSINESSES. THE ENERGY BILL HAS PROGRAMS TARGETED BOTH AT THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR AND AT RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS AND AT COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS. RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS, THE BILL CREATES A GRANT PROGRAM THAT STATES COULD USE TO FUND RETROFIT PROGRAMS FOR RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS. A HOME ENERGY RETROFIT FINANCE PROGRAM WOULD ALSO BE CREATED. STATES COULD USE THIS PROGRAM TO SET UP REVOLVING FINANCE FUNDS TO HELP HOMEOWNERS PAY FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS. THIS SUPPORT WOULD BE IN ADDITION TO THE SUPPORT MADE AVAILABLE THROUGH SETA. RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROGRAMS COULD CREATE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF JOBS AND OVERALL ENERGY RETROFITS ARE POTENTIALLY A VERY LARGE JOB CREATOR IN OUR COUNTRY. REBUILDING AMERICA ESTIMATES THAT RETROFITTING 50 MILLION HOMES OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS WOULD CREATE 625,000 JOBS THAT COULD BE SUSTAINED DURING THAT PERIOD. THE PROGRAMS IN THE ENERGY BILL WOULD ACCOMPLISH MUCH OF THAT GOAL. THE BILL ALSO INCLUDES PROGRAMS TO INCREASE THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY OF U.S. MANUFACTURERS, AS I'VE MENTIONED, ENERGY DEPARTMENT FINANCING WILL HELP SMALL AND LARGE MANUFACTURERS UPGRADE TO ENERGY-EFFICIENT PRODUCTION EQUIPMENT AND PROCESSES. PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS WILL MAP OUT AND DEVELOP THE TECHNOLOGIES NEEDED BY SPECIFIC INDUSTRIES TO REDUCE THEIR ENERGY INTENSITY. MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY OF THESE ESTIMATES OF JOB CREATION IS THE COMPETITIVE EDGE THAT AMERICAN MANUFACTURERS WOULD GAIN BY INCREASING THEIR ENERGY EFFICIENCY. THIS IS A KEY STEP IF WE'RE GOING TO REVITALIZE THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR AND ENSURE THAT IT REMAINS STRONG IN THE FUTURE. NEARLY EVERYONE AGREES THAT RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IS VITAL TO CREATING JOBS AND TO THE COMPETITIVENESS OF OUR COUNTRY. THE ENERGY BILL WOULD NEARLY DOUBLE THE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE IN THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY TO OVER $8 BILLION IN 2013. AT THAT FUNDING LEVEL, THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE COULD SUPPORT OVER 27,000 Ph.D. LEVEL RESEARCHERS ACROSS THE UNITED STATES. ALL TOLD, USING BOTH THE SPECIFIC ESTIMATES THAT HAVE BEEN MADE FOR POLICIES IN THE AMERICAN CLEAN ENERGY LEADERSHIP ACT AND A MIDPOINT ESTIMATE FOR JOBS RESULTING FROM THE RETROFIT PROVISIONS OF THE BILL, THE ACT WOULD CREATE UP TO 500,000 JOBS OVER THE NEXT DECADE, IF ENACTED AND FUNDED. THIS IS JUST A PART OF THE JOB-CREATION POTENTIAL THAT WE HAVE IN OUR ENERGY SECTOR. THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON ENERGY POLICY ESTIMATES THAT THE COUNTRY WILL NEED 400,000 NEW JOBS IN THE ELECTRICITY SECTOR ALONE. IF INDIRECT JOBS ARE INCLUDED, THE NUMBER OF NEW JOBS CREATED COULD TOTAL 1 MILLION TO 1.5 MILLION. SOME BELIEVE THAT THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS HAS ESTIMATED THAT JOB GROWTH POTENTIAL, IF BOTH THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS COMBINED WERE TO INVEST $150 BILLION PER YEAR IN CLEAN ENERGY. THAT'S THE LEVEL OF INVESTMENT THAT THE CENTER ESTIMATES WOULD BE MOBILIZED BY A COMPREHENSIVE SET OF POLICIES THAT INCLUDE BOTH WHAT CONGRESS HAS ALREADY ENACTED AS PART OF THE AMERICAN REINVESTMENT AND RECOVERY ACT AND A FULL SUITE OF POLICIES SUR POLICIES SURROUNDING POLICIES FOR REGULATING GREENHOUSE GASES. THE ENERGY BILL IS A DOWN PAYMENT ON REACHING THAT TARGET. IT HAS SIGNIFICANT POTENTIAL TO CREATE JOBS IN THE NEAR FUTURE. IT WOULD STRENGTHEN THE COMPETITIVENESS OF AMERICAN BUSINESS. IT WOULD POSITION THE UNITED STATES TO BE THE GLOBAL LEADER IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF GLEAN -- OF CLEAN ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES, AND I URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT THIS LEGISLATION WHEN IT DOES COME TO THE FLOOR FOR CONSIDERATION. THE JOBS WE CAN CREATE AS WE TRANSITION TO A CLEAN ENERGY ECONOMY ARE CLEARLY NOT THE TOTAL ANSWER TO OUR JOB NEEDS NEEDS IN THE COMING YEARS. BUT THEY ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF THAT EAFNLTS SO I URGE MY COLLEAGUES TO LOOK AT THIS LEGISLATION AND WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY ARISES HERE ON THE SENATE FLOOR TO SUPPORT THIS LEGISLATION, NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF WHAT IT WILL DO TO MEET OUR ENERGY NEEDS, NOT ONLY BECAUSE OF WHAT IT WILL DO TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS BUT ALSO WHAT IT WILL DO TO HELP CREATE JOBS AND PUT OUR ECONOMY ON A GROWTH TRACK IN FUTURE YEARS. MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR AND SUGGEST THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 02:22:45 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE.

  • 02:23:02 PM

    Quorum Call

  • 02:41:35 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE.

  • 02:41:41 PM

    MR. CORKER

    YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT TO VITIATE THE QUORUM CALL.

  • 02:41:44 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION. THE SENATOR FROM TENNESSEE IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 02:41:46 PM

    MR. CORKER

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. MR. PRESIDENT, I KNOW THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. MR. PRESIDENT, I KNOW THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF DISCUSSIONS THROUGHOUT OUR COUNTRY AND PROBABLY SOME HERE ON THE SENATE FLOOR REGARDING THE ELECTIONS THAT TOOK PLACE LAST NIGHT AND WHAT THAT MEANS. AND I THINK MOST OF IT HAS BEEN CENTERED AROUND POLITICS. I'D LIKE TO SUGGEST SOMETHING. I THINK THAT MUCH OF WHAT THE COUNTRY IS IN SOME DEGREE IN UPHEAVAL ABOUT ARE THE POLICIES THAT WE ARE DISCUSSING HERE ON THE SENATE FLOOR AND THE THINGS THAT ARE MOVING THROUGH COMMITTEES. AND OBVIOUSLY THE MAJOR ISSUE OF THE DAY IS HEALTH CARE, HEALTH CARE REFORM. GOT A BILL OVER IN THE HOUSE. WE'VE GOT ONE THAT POTENTIALLY WILL BE ON THE SENATE FLOOR IN THE VERY NEAR FUTURE. AND I'D LIKE TO ASK MY FRIENDS, I'D LIKE TO SORT OF CREATE A PICTURE, IF I COULD, FOR MY FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE. AS I LOOK AT THE BILL, THE HEALTH CARE BILL THAT SEEMS TO BE COMING TOGETHER, THAT I THINK, AGAIN, WILL BE PUT TOGETHER SOON, I KNOW THAT, NUMBER ONE, THERE'S A LOT OF HESITATION. I KNOW OUR MAJORITY LEADER IS HAVING DIFFICULTY FINDING 60 VOTES TO ACTUALLY MOVE THE BILL AHEAD. AND WHAT I'D LIKE TO MENTION TO MY FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE IS THIS: IF REPUBLICANS -- IF REPUBLICANS HAD PUT FORTH A HEALTH CARE BILL THAT TOOK $4 HUB HUNDRED BILLION TO $-- TOOK $400 BILLION TO $500 BILLION OUT OF MEDICARE TO LEVERAGE ANOTHER PROGRAM, WASN'T USED TO MAKE MEDICARE WHICH ISN'T SOLVENT MORE SOLVENT, IF REPUBLICANS PUT FORTH A BILL THAT CREATED AN UNFUNDED MANDATE FOR STATES BY MAKING STATES RAISE THEIR MEDICAID LEVELS, IN OTHER WORDS, WE'RE MANDATING THAT. IN MY STATE ALONE IT'S GOING TO COST $735 MILLION. AND IF REPUBLICANS HAD PUT FORTH A BILL THAT WE KNEW WAS GOING TO RAISE PREMIUMS -- IN OUR STATE IT'S GOING TO RAISE PREMIUMS BY 60% OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS BASED ON AN INDEPENDENT STUDY. IF REPUBLICANS HAD PUT FORTH A BILL THAT HAD THE EXACT SAME BUILDING BLOCKS AS THE BILL THAT'S BEEN PUT TOGETHER THROUGH OUR FINANCE COMMITTEE THAT'S NOW BEING MERGED WITH THE "HELP" COMMITTEE, I DO NOT BELIEVE THERE WOULD BE A SINGLE DEMOCRATIC VOTE FOR THAT BILL. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT BELIEVE THAT IF REPUBLICANS PUT FORTH EXACTLY THE BILL THAT WE HAVE BEEN DISCUSSING HERE IN THE SENATE, I DO NOT THINK THERE WOULD BE ONE DEMOCRATIC VOTE FOR THAT BILL. SO WHAT I'M SUGGESTING, MR. PRESIDENT, IS THAT I KNOW THERE'S A LOT OF UNEASE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE REGARDING THIS BILL. THERE'S TREMENDOUS UNEASE ON OUR SIDE. I DON'T THINK WE HAVE A SINGLE REPUBLICAN TODAY THAT FEELS IN ANY WAY GOOD ABOUT THE LEGISLATION THAT HAS BEEN DISCUSSED. A LOT OF TIMES WE AS PARTIES, WE MAKE A LOT OF MISTAKES BY DOING ONE FOR THE GIPPER, IF YOU WILL, SUPPORTING OUR PRESIDENT. REPUBLICANS HAVE DONE THAT IN THE PAST, WHERE SOMETIMES WE GOT BEHIND A POLICY THAT MAYBE WE WERE UNEASY WITH, BUT OUR PRESIDENT, OUR LEADER WANTED A PARTICULAR POLICY TO BE BROUGHT FORTH. MY SENSE IS THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW WITH MY FRIEND ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE AND OUR SITTING PRESIDENT. AND THAT IS FOR A POLITICAL VICTORY PEOPLE ARE SEEKING THIS HEALTH CARE REFORM. BUT I REALLY BELIEVE, AGAIN, IF REPUBLICANS OFFERED EXACTLY THIS SAME BILL WITH THE SAME FUNDAMENTAL FUNDING MECHANISMS THAT THERE WOULD NOT BE A SINGLE DEMOCRATIC VOTE. SO FOR THAT REASON, MR. PRESIDENT, I THINK THERE HAS BEEN A MESSAGE SENT TO THIS BODY BY THE RECENT ELECTIONS THAT HAVE TAKEN PLACE. I THINK PEOPLE ACROSS THIS COUNTRY ARE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT THE POLICIES THAT THIS HEALTH CARE BILL THAT WE'VE BEEN DISCUSSING PUTS FORTH. AND I WOULD JUST ASK MY FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE, LET'S STOP WHAT WE'RE DOING RIGHT NOW. I KNOW THERE'S A LOT OF UNEASE. LET'S GET THIS RIGHT. I'M ONE OF THOSE REPUBLICANS THAT WOULD LIKE TO SEE HEALTH CARE REFORM, HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM. I CAMPAIGNED ON THAT WHEN I RAN FOR THE UNITED STATES SENATE IN TENNESSEE. I WAS COMMISSIONER OF FINANCE FOR OUR STATE IN THE MIDDLE 1990'S AND DEALT WITH THE MANY ISSUES OF THE PEOPLE IN OUR STATE NOT HAVING HEALTH INSURANCE. I'D LIKE TO SEE US DO THE RIGHT THING. I'D LIKE TO SEE US HAVE A POLICY THAT WILL STAND THE TEST OF TIME. SO I WOULD SAY TO MY FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE, LET'S THROW THIS BILL ASIDE. YOU WOULDN'T VOTE FOR THIS BILL IF WE OFFERED IT. YOU SHOULDN'T VOTE FOR IT JUST BECAUSE YOUR LEADERSHIP AN YOUR PRESIDENT WANTS TO SEE IT HAPPEN. AND LET'S STEP BACK AND LET'S DO SOMETHING AGAIN THAT WILL STAND THE TEST OF TIME. MR. PRESIDENT, I THANK YOU FOR THIS TIME. I HOPE MY COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE THAT I KNOW ARE INCREDIBLY UNEASY ABOUT THIS LEGISLATION THAT HAS VERY POOR BUILDING BLOCKS, I HOPE THAT THEY WILL LISTEN. I HOPE THAT WE TOGETHER CAN STEP BACK AND I HOPE THAT WE WILL PUT IN PLACE POLICIES THAT, AGAIN, WILL BENEFIT AMERICANS AND STAND THE TEST OF TIME. MR. PRESIDENT, I NOTICE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 02:47:38 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM UTAH.

  • 02:47:57 PM

    Quorum Call

  • 02:59:39 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM UTAH.

  • 02:59:41 PM

    MR. HATCH

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 02:59:44 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 02:59:46 PM

    MR. HATCH

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT WILL BE INSERTED.

  • 03:23:38 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL:

  • 03:24:24 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    ARE WE IN A QUORUM CALL?

  • 03:24:27 PM

    MR. CARPER

    ARE WE IN A QUORUM CALL?

  • 03:24:29 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    YES, WE ARE.

  • 03:24:30 PM

    MR. CARPER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 03:24:32 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 03:24:34 PM

    MR. CARPER

    YES, YOU DO.

  • 03:24:37 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    I SO REQUEST.

  • 03:24:39 PM

    MR. CARPER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 03:24:40 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 03:24:42 PM

    MR. CARPER

  • 03:46:55 PM

    MR. McCAIN

  • 03:46:56 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM ARIZONA.

  • 03:46:58 PM

    MR. McCAIN

    YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I ALWAYS ENJOY HEARING THE WORDS OF WISDOM OF MY…

    YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I ALWAYS ENJOY HEARING THE WORDS OF WISDOM OF MY FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE FROM DELAWARE. MR. PRESIDENT, TODAY WE MARK A PAINFUL ANNIVERSARY FOR OUR COUNTRY, THE DAY 30 YEARS AGO WHEN THE EMBASSY IN IRAN WAS VIOLENTLY SEIZED AND AN INSTITUTION OF DIPLOMACY BECAME A PRISON FOR DOZENS OF PEACEFUL SERVANTS OF THIS NATION. FOR 444 DAYS THE UNITED STATES AND THE WORLD WATCHED AND FEARED FOR THE SAFETY OF OUR CITIZENS. EIGHT BRAVE AMERICANS LOST THEIR LIVES TRYING TO RESCUE OUR DIPLOMATS. AFTER SO MANY DAYS OF DREAD, ANGUISH AND HEARTBREAK, WE ALL FELT A GREAT WEIGHT LIFTED WHEN OUR FELLOW CITIZENS WERE RETURNED HOME SAFELY TO THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILIES. TODAY WE EXPRESS OUR DEEPEST GRATITUDE TO THOSE AMERICANS TAKEN HOSTAGE IN IRAN 30 YEARS AGO AND TO THOSE WHO DIED TO SAVE THEM. THEY ALL GAVE MORE FOR OUR COUNTRY THAN SHOULD BE ASKED OF ANY PUBLIC SERVANT, AND WE THANK THEM FOR IT. TODAY, HOWEVER, WE'RE ALSO MINDFUL THAT THE PAIN AND SUFFERING THAT BEGAN ON NOVEMBER 4, 1979, DID NOT END AFTER ONLY 444 DAYS. FOR THE PEOPLE OF IRAN, THAT HARDSHIP CONTINUED FOR 30 MORE YEARS, AND IT CONTINUES TO THIS DAY. IRAN IS A GREAT NATION, AND THE IRANIAN PEOPLE ARE THE STEWARDS OF A PROUD AND ACCOMPLISHED CIVILIZATION. THROUGHOUT THEIR NATION'S HISTORY, IRANIANS HAVE MADE SPECTACULAR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE ARTS AND SCIENCES, TO LITERATURE AND LEARNING. THESE ACHIEVEMENTS HAVE NOT ONLY BENEFITED IRAN, THEY HAVE ADDED TO THE DEVELOPMENT AND ENRICHMENT OF ALL MANKIND. AND SO IT IS WITH PROFOUND SADNESS THAT WE THINK TODAY OF ALL THE POTENTIAL OF THE IRANIAN PEOPLE THAT HAS BEEN SUPPRESSED AND SQUANDERED OVER THE PAST 30 YEARS BY THE RULERS IN TEHRAN. I KNOW THAT THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT IS SINGING THE PRAISES OF THEIR REVOLUTION TODAY, BUT IRANIANS ARE NOT FOOLS. THEY KNOW WHAT THE REAL LEGACY OF THE PAST 30 YEARS IS. IRANIANS KNOW THAT THE GOVERNMENT IN TEHRAN HAS RUINED THEIR NATION'S ECONOMY AND KEPT THEM ISOLATED FROM THE PROMISE OF TRADING AND ENGAGING WITH THE WORLD. IRANIANS ARE RIGHT TO ASK HOW MUCH BETTER OFF THEY WOULD BE IF ALL OF THE MONEY, THE BILLIONS AND BILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT IRAN'S RULERS HAVE SPENT SPONSORING TERRORIST GROUPS, TEAR -- TYRANNIZING THEIR PEOPLE AND BUILDING WEAPONS TO THREATEN THE WORLD WERE INSTEAD DEVOTED TO CREATING JOBS, EDUCATING YOUNG PEOPLE AND CARING FOR THE SICK. IRANIANS ARE RIGHT TO WONDER WHY A COUNTRY SO BLESSED WITH NATURAL RESOURCES CANNOT MEET THE BASIC NEEDS OF SO MANY OF ITS OWN CITIZENS, AND YET, CORRUPT MEMBERS OF THE RULING ELITE ARE STUFFING THE WEALTH OF THEIR NATION INTO THEIR OWN POCKETS. THE RULERS IN IRAN SEIZED POWER 30 YEARS AGO, PROMISING POWER AND BETTER LIVES FOR ALL. BUT NOW THEY THROW IRANIANS IN PRISON WITHOUT PROPER TRIALS. THEY MISTREAT AND TORTURE IRANIANS IN JAIL. AND THEY BEAT AND MURDER IRANIANS IN THE STREETS FOR TRYING TO SPEAK FREELY AND EXERCISE THEIR BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS. THE WORLD WATCHED IN HORROR AS IRAN'S RULERS INFLICTED ALL OF THIS ABUSE AND MORE UPON PEACEFUL IRANIAN PROTESTERS AFTER THE FLAWED ELECTIONS LAST JUNE. BUT THE WORLD ALSO WATCHED IN AWE AS COURAGEOUS IRANIANS RISKED EVERYTHING FOR FREEDOM AND JUSTICE. WE AMERICANS REFLECT WITH SYMPATHY ON IRAN'S CONTINUING STRUGGLE FOR HUMAN DIGNITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS. OUR COUNTRY SEEKS A RELATIONSHIP OF PEACE AND PROSPERITY WITH IRAN, AND IT IS INCREDIBLY UNFORTUNATE THAT THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT SEEMS DETERMINED TO KEEP THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES MIRED IN THE PAST BY FUNDING AND ARMING VIOLENT GROUPS THAT THREATEN OUR CITIZENS AND OUR ALLIES, BY BUILDING A NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM IN VIOLATION OF IRAN'S OWN AGREEMENTS AND MULTIPLE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS AND BY SPURNING REPEATED AMERICAN EFFORTS TO REACH OUT RESPECTFULLY TO RESOLVE OUR DIFFERENCES IN PEACE. THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HAS NO ETERNAL ENEMIES. WE CAN OVERCOME EVEN THE MOST PAINFUL PARTS OF OUR OWN HISTORY AS WE'RE DOING NOW WITH COUNTRIES LIKE VIETNAM. SO TODAY, ON THIS SOLEMN ANNIVERSARY OF THE HOSTAGE CRISIS IN IRAN, WE HONOR OUR FELLOW AMERICANS WHOSE LIVES WERE FOREVER ALTERED BY THAT TRAGIC DAY. BUT WE ALSO LOOK FORWARD TO A NEW DAY, A BETTER DAY WHEN THE LONG NIGHTMARE OF THE IRANIAN PEOPLE IS OVER AND WHEN OUR TWO NATIONS SHARE A RELATIONSHIP OF MUTUAL SECURITY, MUTUAL RESPECT AND MUTUAL ADVANTAGE. MR. PRESIDENT, I SUGGEST THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 03:52:36 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL: QUORUM CALL:

  • 03:52:57 PM

    Quorum Call

  • 04:16:52 PM

    MR. DODD

    THE SENATOR FROM CONNECTICUT IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 04:16:53 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM CONNECTICUT IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 04:16:56 PM

    MR. DODD

    PRESIDENT, I ASK THE CALL OF THE QUORUM BE RESIPPEDDED.

  • 04:17:00 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION, SO ORDERED.

  • 04:17:02 PM

    MR. DODD

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO SPEND A FEW MINUTES IF I CAN TO EXPRESS MY THANKS…

    MR. PRESIDENT, I WANT TO SPEND A FEW MINUTES IF I CAN TO EXPRESS MY THANKS FIRST OF ALL TO MAJORITY LEADER REID AND THE LEADERSHIP TEAM FOR MAKING THE VOTE WE'RE ABOUT TO HAVE AT SOME POINT HERE I GATHER IN THE NEXT 15 MINUTES, A HALF AN HOUR OR SO, DEPENDING UPON THE ADJOURNMENT OF SOME OTHER MEETINGS ON THE EFFORT TO EXTEND UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AS WELL AS TO PROVIDE TAX CREDITS FOR HOME BUYERS, AS WELL AS A PROVISION DEALING WITH THE NET OPERATING LOSSES, AND I THANK THE LEADERSHIP FOR IT. LET ME THANK SENATOR BAUCUS, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE AS WELL WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PUTTING THIS ALL TOGETHER AND HIS STAFF WHO WORK VERY, VERY HARD, AND I PRESUME THEY DID SO IN CONJUNCTION WITH SENATOR GRASSLEY, THE RANKING MEMBER OF THAT COMMITTEE AS WELL. I KNOW IT TOOK SOME TIME. I REGRET IT TOOK AS LONG AS IT DID TO GET THE EXTENSION OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE. AS I'M SURE MEMBERS HAVE HEARD OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS, EVERY DAY THAT WE DELAYED IN PROVIDING SOME RELIEF TO PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, 7,000 PEOPLE EVERY DAY WERE LOSING THE BENEFITS OF UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE. AND AGAIN, ALL OF US KNOW PEOPLE WITHIN OUR COMMUNITIES, OUR NEIGHBORHOODS AND OUR STATES, OBVIOUSLY, THAT HAVE SUFFERED THE LOSS OF JOBS AS A RESULT OF THE TREMENDOUS DOWNTURN IN OUR ECONOMY WITH THE RECESSION. THESE ARE PEOPLE TRYING TO PAY MORTGAGES, LITERALLY PUT FOOD ON THE TABLE, PROVIDE FOR THE NEEDS OF THEIR FAMILIES, SO UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE HAS BEEN ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL OVER THE YEARS. THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME, OBVIOUSLY, WE HAVE HAD AN EXTENSION. IT'S TRADITIONALLY BEEN A BIPARTISAN EFFORT. REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC ADMINISTRATIONS HAVE AGREED TO PROVIDE THESE EXTENSIONS. THIS ONE, UNFORTUNATELY, TOOK TOO LONG, IN MY VIEW, TO PUT IN PLACE, GIVEN THE DEPTH OF THIS RECESSION, GIVEN THE FACT THAT SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE NOW FALLEN OUTSIDE OF THE EMPLOYMENT PICTURE. I KNOW THE NUMBERS PEOPLE TALK ABOUT ARE ANYWHERE FROM 8% TO ALMOST 10%, DEPENDING UPON WHERE YOU LIVE. MR. PRESIDENT, I DON'T THINK THOSE NUMBERS ARE ANYWHERE NEAR CLOSE REFLECT WHAT'S GOING ON. I THINK IF YOU ASKED ME CANDIDLY WHAT THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS IN THIS COUNTRY, I THINK IT HOVERS CLOSER TO 20%, BECAUSE AN AWFUL LOT OF PEOPLE HAVE EVEN STOPPED LOOKING, THE ECONOMY HAS BEEN THAT BAD. SO THESE EXTENSION OF BENEFITS ARE OBVIOUSLY ESSENTIAL. BUT FRANKLY, I REGRET THAT WE HAVE TO DO THIS. THE IDEA THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT EXTENDING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS MEANS IN EFFECT WE'RE NOT DOING AS WELL AS WE SHOULD BE DOING AT KEATING JOBS IN THE COUNTRY, WHICH IS OBVIOUSLY WHAT WE OUGHT TO BE SPENDING OUR TIME ON, WHICH GETS ME TO THE SECOND PART OF THIS BILL, AND THAT IS THE HOMEOWNERS TAX CREDIT. AND I SEE MY FRIEND FROM GEORGIA WHO HAS ARRIVED ON THE FLOOR. PERFECT TIMING BECAUSE I WAS ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT HIM. HE WAS THE PRINCIPAL AUTHOR A NUMBER OF MONTHS AGO ON THE FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER TAX CREDIT EXTENSION. AND THAT DIFFERENCE, THAT BILL ALONE, JOHNNY ISAKSON OF GEORGIA AND I WAS PLEASED TO BE A PARTNER OF HIS IN THAT EFFORT, TWO MILLION PEOPLE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THAT AND AS A RESULT TODAY WERE ABLE TO GET INTO A HOME AND ALL OF THE BENEFITS ASSOCIATED WITH THAT, INCLUDING JOBS AND OTHERS THAT WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THAT PROVISION. THAT PROVISION IS ABOUT TO RUN OUT IN 26, 27 DAYS, THE END OF THIS MONTH. AND AS A RESULT OF HIS EFFORTS AGAIN NOW -- AND I'M PLEASED ONCE MORE TO BE HIS PARTNER IN THIS EFFORT -- WE HAVE BEEN ABLE TO EXTEND THAT BENEFIT TO THE FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER. BUT WE HAVE DONE SOMETHING BEYOND THAT -- EXCUSE ME -- WHICH JOHNNY ISAKSON HAS TALKED ABOUT OVER THE MANY WEEKS HE AND I HAVE TALKED ABOUT THIS ISSUE. AND THAT IS TO MOVE INTO THE -- THAT IS THAT PERSON WHO LITERALLY CAN GO FROM THE HOUSE THEY'RE IN TO THAT NEW HOUSE, THAT FAMILY MAY HAVE GROWN, A COUPLE ADDITIONAL CHILDREN, DIFFERENT NEEDS THEY HAVE, AND TO BE ABLE TO MOVE UP INTO THAT NEXT CATEGORY. AND THIS BILL NOW PROVIDES NOT ONLY THE BENEFIT TO THE FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER BUT TO THAT MOVEUP HOME BUYER AS WELL. AND THE CREDITS ARE STILL $8,000 FOR THE FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER. YOU HAVE TO HAVE AN INCOME IF YOU'RE A SINGLE PERSON OF OF $125,000 OR LESS, YOU'RE JOINT FILERS, $225,000 OR LESS. THE HOME PRICE HAS A CAP ON IT OF $800,000 OR LESS. YOU HAVE TO HAVE LIVED IN THE HOME FOR FIVE YEARS. YOU HAVE TO BE PREPARED TO STAY IN THERE FOR THREE. YOU CAN'T BE AN INVESTOR. WE HAVE PUT A LOT OF ANTIFRAUD PROVISIONS AROUND ALL OF THIS. BUT 70% OF HOMEOWNERS TODAY CAN QUALIFY FOR THIS MOVEUP BUYER. THAT'S GOING TO BE A TREMENDOUS BENEFIT IN MY VIEW. AGAIN, I'M CONFIDENT MY FRIEND FROM GEORGIA HAS MADE THIS POINT. THE FIRST-TIME BUYER TRADITIONAL HAS JUST PUT IT TOGETHER WELL ENOUGH TO GET INTO THAT FIRST HOME. AS I THINK SENATOR ISAKSON SAID, THEY ARE PROBABLY SLEEPING ON FEW TONS AND EATING A -- SLEEPING ON FUTONS AND EATING A LOT OF LEAN CUISINES. THEY ARE SO EXCITED TO GET IN THERE. YOU SACRIFICED TREMENDOUSLY TO GET INTO THAT FIRST HOME YOU HAVE DREAMED ABOUT HAVING. THE MOVEUP BUYER IS MORE CAPABLE OF BUYING THAT FURNITURE, MAYBE BUILDING A PORCH, PUT AGO GARAGE ON, NEW ROOF ON THE HOUSE, WHATEVER ELSE, MAKING IMPROVEMENTS. SO THE RIPPLE EFFECT ECONOMICALLY IN THAT MOVEUP BUYER IS GOING TO BE A REAL BENEFIT. THE FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER OBVIOUSLY HELPS, BUT BEING ABLE TO ACTUALLY MAKE THOSE KIND OF INVESTMENTS I THINK IS GOING TO BE A JOB CREATOR ACROSS THE COUNTRY. IT'S NOT GOING TO SOLVE ALL OF OUR NEEDS, BUT IT'S GOING TO PUT PEOPLE BACK TO WORK. THE HOME BUILDERS, THE PEOPLE BACK IN THE REAL ESTATE BUSINESS, THOSE KIND OF JOBS OUT THERE THAT CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. SO I'M PLEASED WE'RE EXTENDING UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE, BUT I'M EVEN MORE PLEASED THAT WE'RE DOING THIS ON THE HOMEOWNER TAX CREDIT BECAUSE IT REALLY DOES PROVIDE SOME ECONOMIC LIFT IN THE COUNTRY AT A TIME THAT WE DESPERATELY NEED ECONOMIC LIFT TO GIVE PEOPLE A CHANCE OF RESTORED CONFIDENCE AND OPTIMISM THAT WE'RE GOING TO GET OUT OF THIS. IT'S GOING TO BE HARD, WE HAVE A WAYS TO GO, OBVIOUSLY, BEFORE WE ALL START FEELING THAT LEVEL OF CONFIDENCE AND OPTIMISM. BUT IN MOST RECESSIONS OUR COUNTRY HAS BEEN IN, REAL ESTATE HAS BEEN AT THE HEART OF IT, AND THE RECOVERIES OF OUR RECESSIONS HAVE BEEN LED IN THE REAL ESTATE SECTION OF OUR ECONOMY, AND IF THIS RECESSION IS TYPICAL OF OTHERS, THEN IT WILL BE IN THE AREA OF HOMEOWNERSHIP AND REAL ESTATE THAT WE BEGIN TO COME OUT OF THIS. IT'S NOT THE ONLY FACTOR, BUT IT IS A MAJOR FACTOR IN RECOVERY. SO THIS EXTENSION WILL RUN UNTIL NEXT SPRING AT A CRITICAL TIME OF REAL ESTATE SALES IN OUR NATION, AND I CAN'T BEGIN TO THANK MY COLLEAGUE FROM GEORGIA ENOUGH FOR HIS TIRELESS EFFORTS IN THIS -- IN THIS ARENA. THIS IS HOW IT OUGHT TO BE, BY THE WAY. THIS IS THE WAY WE'RE SUPPOSED TO DO BUSINESS AROUND HERE, WHERE WE COME TOGETHER, LISTEN TO EACH OTHER'S IDEAS AND THEN GO OUT AND TRY TO WORK IT SO THAT OUR COLLEAGUES WILL APPRECIATE THE EFFORTS THAT ARE BEING MADE AND TRY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN OUR COUNTRY. SO I WANT TO THANK MY FRIEND FROM GEORGIA FOR HIS LEADERSHIP ONCE AGAIN ON THIS ISSUE. BUT FOR HIM, I DON'T THINK THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED. YOU CAN'T ALWAYS SAY THAT ABOUT EVERY BILL. USUALLY A LOT OF PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THIS. BUT I WOULD SAY TO MY COLLEAGUES HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR SENATOR JOHNNY ISAKSON OF GEORGIA, THEN I DON'T THINK WE WOULD BE WHERE WE ARE TODAY. SO ON BEHALF OF MY CONSTITUENTS IN THE SMALL STATE OF CONNECTICUT, YOU'RE FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER PROVISION WHICH I WAS PLEASED TO JOIN YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE OF 12,000 HOMES IN MY SMALL STATE. I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE NUMBER WILL BE AS A RESULT OF THIS PROVISION, BUT IT'S GOING TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO FAMILIES IN CONNECTICUT, AND SO WE THANK THE SENATOR FROM GEORGIA.

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  • 04:24:55 PM

    MR. ISAKSON

    I YIELD.

  • 04:24:59 PM

    MR. DODD

    THE SENATOR FROM GEORGIA.

  • 04:25:00 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM GEORGIA.

  • 04:25:02 PM

    MR. ISAKSON

    I THANK THE GENTLEMAN FOR HIS MANY KIND WORDS. AS I SAID EARLIER TODAY IN…

    I THANK THE GENTLEMAN FOR HIS MANY KIND WORDS. AS I SAID EARLIER TODAY IN A SPEECH, HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR YOUR WILLINGNESS TO CALL A HEARING THREE WEEKS AGO IN THE SENATE AND BRING IN THE PROFESSIONALS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY, INCLUDING THE HEAD OF H.U.D., SEAN DONOVAN, TO TALK ABOUT THE APPLICATION OF THIS CREDIT AND ITS EXTENSION, I DON'T THINK THE INFORMATION NECESSARY TO BRING US TO THIS POINT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED, SO THE CONGRESS AND THE PEOPLE WHO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS ARE IN NO SMALL MEASURE INDEBTED TO SENATOR DODD FOR THAT LEADERSHIP. AND I MIGHT ADD SENATOR BAUCUS WHO HELPED US DEFINE THE PAY-FOR, THIS BILL, INCLUDING THE U.I., THE LOSS CARRYBACK, AND THE HOUSING TAX CREDIT HAS A NET PLUS AGAINST THE DEFICIT NOT A COST TO THE COUNTRY, WHICH IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. WE COULDN'T HAVE DONE THAT WITHOUT SENATOR BAUCUS AND, QUITE FRANKLY, MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID HAS HELPED US TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN, AS ONLY HE COULD DO AS THE MAJORITY LEADER OF THE SENATE. AND SO WHILE I APPRECIATE VERY MUCH THE KIND WORDS OF THE SENATOR, IT IS TRUE THIS HAS BEEN A TEAM EFFORT AND THE CAPTAIN OF THE TEAM HAS BEEN THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BANKING COMMITTEE WHO BROUGHT ABOUT THE HEARING, WHO HELPED IT TO HAPPEN. I JUST WANT TO THANK THE SENATOR FROM CONNECTICUT FOR THAT AND TELL THE SENATE THAT WE'RE ABOUT TO DO SOMETHING MEANINGFUL FOR THE UNITED STATES ECONOMY, MEANINGFUL FOR THE UNITED STATES HOMEOWNERS, AND THIS BILL IN THE END IS A JOBS BILL. MY LAST POINT TO THE THE SENATOR FROM CONNECTICUT, THE PUBLIC NEEDS TO ALSO KNOW THIS IS THE LAST EXTENSION. THE BENEFIT OF TAX CREDITS ARE WHEN THEY HAVE A FINALITY, WHEN THEY HAVE A SUNSET, WHEN THERE IS A SENSE OF URGENCY TO TAKE ADVANTAGE. NOW IS THE TIME. WITH THAT TYPE OF MOMENTUM, U.S. ECONOMY WILL COME BACK BECAUSE HOUSING THAT LED US INTO IT WILL HELP LEAD US OUT OF IT. I'M GRATEFUL TO THE SENATOR FOR HIS KIND REMARKS.

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  • 04:26:43 PM

    MR. DODD

    MY COLLEAGUE. AS I SAID EARLIER, I THANK SENATOR REID AND SENATOR BAUCUS…

    MY COLLEAGUE. AS I SAID EARLIER, I THANK SENATOR REID AND SENATOR BAUCUS AND THEIR STAFFS AS WELL FOR ALLOWING US TO COME TO THIS MOMENT. IT'S A GOOD DAY FOR OUR COUNTRY. I THANK MY COLLEAGUE FROM GEORGIA AGAIN. MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR. I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 04:27:00 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL:

  • 04:29:45 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS --

  • 04:29:55 PM

    MR. GRASSLEY

    WE'RE IN A QUORUM CALL, SENATOR.

  • 04:29:57 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    IN A QUORUM CALL, SENATOR.

  • 04:29:58 PM

    MR. GRASSLEY

    OH, YEAH. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I ASK THAT THE CALLING OF THE QUORUM…

    OH, YEAH. THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I ASK THAT THE CALLING OF THE QUORUM BE SUSPENDED.

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  • 04:30:03 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT'S SO ORDERED.

  • 04:30:06 PM

    MR. GRASSLEY

    PRESIDENT, OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS, THIS SENATOR ASK SEVERAL OTHER SENATORS…

    PRESIDENT, OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS, THIS SENATOR ASK SEVERAL OTHER SENATORS HAVE BEEN COMING TO THE FLOOR TALKING ABOUT VARIOUS ASPECTS OF THE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILLS THAT THE MAJORITY HAS BROUGHT FORWARD SO FAR. TODAY I WANT TO REVIEW THE IMPACT OF THESE BILLS HAVING ON MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES. FIRST, THERE'S THE SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE BILL. IT WOULD CUT MEDICARE BY ABOUT $470 BILLION OVER TEN YEARS. THE HOUSE VERSION TAKES AN EVEN BIGGER BITE OUT OF MEDICARE. IN THAT BILL, MEDICARE IS CUT BY ABOUT $540 BILLION. THAT'S MORE THAN -- OBVIOUSLY MORE THAN HALF A TRILLION DOLLARS. CUTS OF THIS MAGNITUDE ARE SURE TO HURT MEDICARE PROVIDERS AND THREATEN BENEFICIARIES' ACCESS TO CARE. TAKE A LOOK AT THE CUTS IN THESE REFORM BILLS. IT SHOWS WHY THERE IS GENUINE CONCERN THAT HEALTH CARE FOR MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES WILL SUFFER GREATLY AT THE SAME TIME WE'RE USING THE WORDS "HEALTH CARE REFORM." THE PROPOSED LEGISLATION PERMANENTLY CUTS ALL ANNUAL MEDICARE PROVIDER PAYMENT UPDATES. PERMANENTLY. OR ANOTHER WAY TO SAY IT, CUT THEM TOGETHER. ADDITIONAL PROVIDERS LIKE HOSPITALS, HOME HEALTH AGENCIES AND HOSPICES WOULD FACE ADDITIONAL CUTS OVER THE NEXT TEN YEARS. THESE PERMANENT CUTS ARE SUPPOSED TO REDUCE MEDICARE PAYMENTS TO ACCOUNT FOR INCREASES IN PRODUCTIVITY BY HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS. SUPPORTERS OF THESE PRODUCTIVITY ADJUSTMENTS BELIEVE THAT MEDICARE GENERALLY OVERPAYS PROVIDERS. I WISH THEY WOULD ASK PROVIDERS IN MY STATE OF IOWA. AND THEY SAY THIS WOULD HAPPEN BECAUSE TODAY'S MEDICARE PAYMENTS DO NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT PRODUCTIVITY INCREASES THAT MIGHT REDUCE THE COSTS OF PROVIDING CARES TO BENEFICIARIES. HOWEVER, THIS PROPOSAL FOR PRODUCTIVITY ADJUSTMENT IS AN EXTREMELY BLUNT INSTRUMENT THAT WILL THREATEN BENEFICIARY ACCESS TO CARE. IT IS FLAWED IN AT LEAST TWO WAYS. FIRST, THE PRODUCTIVITY MEASURE USED TO CUT PROVIDER PAYMENTS IN THE BILL DOES NOT REPRESENT PRODUCTIVITY FOR SPECIFIC TYPE OF PROVIDERS LIKE, LET'S SAY, NURSING HOMES. I MEAN, YOU WOULD THINK THAT IF MEDICARE IS GOING TO REDUCE YOUR PAYMENTS TO ACCOUNT FOR INCREASE IN PRODUCTIVITY, IT WOULD AT LEAST MEASURE YOUR SPECIFIC PRODUCTIVITY. BUT THAT'S NOT THE CASE. INSTEAD, THESE REFORM BILLS WOULD MAKE THE PAYMENT CUTS BASED ON MEASURES OF PRODUCTIVITY FOR THE ENTIRE ECONOMY. SO IF PRODUCTIVITY IN THE ECONOMY GROWS BECAUSE, LET'S SAY, COMPUTER CHIPS OR ANY OTHER PRODUCTS ARE MADE MORE EFFICIENTLY, THEN HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS SEE THEIR PAYMENTS GO DOWN. WHERE IS THE CONNECTION? BUT THERE IS A SECOND MAJOR PROBLEM. THIS OTHER PROBLEM IS THAT THE PRODUCTIVITY ADJUSTMENTS ACTUALLY PUNISHES PROVIDERS FOR INCREASES IN PRODUCTIVITY. THIS POLICY SAYS THAT WHEN A PROVIDER IS MORE PRODUCTIVE, MEDICARE IS GOING TO TAKE IT ALL, 100% OF THE PRODUCTIVITY INCREASE. THE PROVIDER DOESN'T EVEN GET TO KEEP HALF OF THE FINANCIAL BENEFIT FOR THAT INCREASE IN PRODUCTIVITY. WHERE'S THE REWARD? BY CONFISCATING THE ENTIRE PRODUCTIVITY INCREASE, IT REMOVES ALL OF THE INCENTIVES FOR PROVIDERS TO IMPROVE THEIR PRODUCTIVITY IN THE FIRST PLACE. NOW, THIS IS A TYPICAL GOVERNMENT POLICY. IF YOU DO BETTER, THE GOVERNMENT WANTS ITS SHARE. BUT HERE THE GOVERNMENT DOESN'T ONLY TAKE ITS SHARE, IT TAKES ALL OF IT. SO THESE CUTS ARE SURE TO IMPACT HEALTH CARE FOR SENIORS, BUT I DON'T WANT YOU TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT SO I'M GOING TO GO TO ONE OF THESE NONPARTISAN PEOPLE IN GOVERNMENT -- AND THERE'S A LOT OF NONPARTISAN, REALLY PROFESSIONAL PEOPLE IN GOVERNMENT -- SO I REFER TO THE CHIEF ACTUARY OF THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. HE RECENTLY IDENTIFIED THIS THROAT BENEFICIARY ACCESS TO -- THREAT TO BENEFICIARY ACCESS TO CARE. HE CONFIRMED THIS IN AN OCTOBER 21 MEMORANDUM ANALYZING THE HOUSE BILL. THE HOUSE BILL AND THE SENATE FINANCE BILL BOTH PROPOSE THE SAME TYPE OF PERMANENT MEDICARE PRODUCTIVITY CARDS. SO HERE WE HAVE A CHART REFERRING TO THE CHIEF ACTUARY. HERE IS WHAT MEDICARE'S OWN CHIEF ACTUARY HAD TO SAY ABOUT THESE PRODUCTIVITY CUTS. REFERRING TO THESE CUTS, HE WROTE THAT -- QUOTE -- "THE ESTIMATED SAVINGS MAY BE UNREALISTIC." IN THEIR OWN ANALYSIS OF THE HOUSE BILL, MEDICARE'S OWN CHIEF ACTUARY SAYS -- AND I QUOTE -- "IT IS DOUBTFUL THAT MANY COULD IMPROVE THEIR OWN PRODUCTIVITY TO THE DEGREE ACHIEVED BY THE ECONOMY AT LARGE." THEY GO ON TO SAY -- AND I'M QUOTING -- "WE ARE NOT AWARE OF ANY EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE DEMONSTRATING THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY'S ABILITY TO ACHIEVE PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENTS EQUAL TO THOSE OF THE OVERALL ECONOMY." IN FACT, THE CHIEF ACTUARY'S CONCLUSION IS THAT IT WOULD BE DIFFICULT FOR PROVIDERS TO EVEN REMAIN PROFITABLE OVER TIME AS MEDICARE PAYMENTS FAIL TO KEEP UP WITH THE COST OF CARING FOR BENEFICIARIES. SO LET'S GO BACK TO THIS CHART AGAIN. ULTIMATELY, HERE IS THEIR CONCLUSION, THAT PROVIDERS WHO RELY ON MEDICARE MIGHT END THEIR PARTICIPATION IN MEDICARE -- AND I QUOTE -- "POSSIBLY JEOPARDIZING ACCESS TO CARE OF BENEFICIARIES." MEDICARE'S CHIEF ACTUARY CONFIRMS WHAT I'VE BEEN HEARING FROM PROVIDERS BACK IN MY STATE OF IOWA ABOUT THESE PERMANENT PRODUCTIVITY PAYMENT CUTS. THESE PROVIDERS ARE DOING EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO BE EFFICIENT AND TO BE INNOVATIVE. THEY ARE DOING EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO GET THE BIGGEST BANG OF EVERY MEDICARE DOLLAR THAT THEY CAN. BUT ACHIEVING THE LEVEL OF PRODUCTIVITY ASSUMED IN THESE BILLS WOULD BE LIKE GETTING BLOOD OUT OF A STONE. AND THESE HEALTH CARE BILLS WILL MAKE IT EVEN HARDER FOR THEM TO KEEP THEIR DOORS OPEN. LOOK AT PROVIDERS LIKE NURSING HOMES AND HOSPICES. THEY PROVIDE LABOR-INTENSIVE SERVICES. THERE ARE A FEW GADGETS AND PROCESSES IN THESE SETTINGS THAT WILL INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY. NOTHING IN THESE SETTINGS REPLACES STAFF BEING AT THEIR BEDSIDE AND PROVIDING CARE, SO IT IS VERY INCORRECT TO ASSUME THAT THESE PROVIDERS WILL ACHIEVE LEVELS OF PRODUCTIVITY LIKE THE REST OF THE ECONOMY JUSTIFYING THESE CUTS THAT THESE BILLS ANTICIPATE. LET'S LOOK AT OTHER PROVIDERS AFFECTED BY THESE BENEFICIARY ADJUSTMENTS AND I WOULD REFER TO AMBULANCES. THE FINANCE COMMITTEE BILL WOULD PERMANENTLY CUT PAYMENTS FOR AMBULANCE SERVICES BEGINNING IN 2011. IT WOULD DO THIS IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT CONGRESS ENACTS PAYMENT INCREASES TO AMBULANCES YEAR AFTER YEAR. IN THE FACT, THE THE SENATE FINANCE BILL EXTENDS THE EXISTING ADD-ON PAYMENTS FOR HOSPITAL SERVICES FOR ANOTHER TWO YEARS, UNTIL 2012, AND THEN YOU KNOW WHAT? TURNS RIGHT AROUND AND CUTS THEM. I HAVE NO QUARREL WITH PROVIDING ADDITIONAL PAYMENTS FOR AMBULANCE SERVICES, BECAUSE WITHOUT THEM, MANY AMBULANCE PROVIDERS WOULD NOT SURVIVE. WELL, WHAT ABOUT THIS SLEIGHT OF HAND? WHAT'S THE IMPACT? THE BILL PROPOSES THAT WE CUT AMBULANCE PAYMENTS WHILE WE VOTE TO INCREASE THEM? IT'S KIND OF LIKE, I VOTE TO CUT BEFORE I VOTED TO INCREASE. NOW, THERE'S ANOTHER PROPOSAL IN THE SENATE BILL THAT CUTS MEDICARE, AND NOW I'M TALKING ABOUT THE MEDICARE COMMISSION. THE PENDING INSOLVENCY OF MEDICARE IS A VERY SERIOUS PROBLEM AND CONGRESS NEEDS TO STOP KICKING THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD WHEN IT COMES TO SHORING UP MEDICARE. WE'RE NEARING THE END OF THAT ROAD. BUT THIS MEDICARE COMMISSION IS FATALLY FLAWED. AND THE RISK OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES THAT WILL HURT SENIORS OUTWEIGH ANY BENEFITS THAT IT MIGHT HAVE. NOT ONLY WILL IT BE HARDER TO FIND A DOCTOR OR HOSPITAL THAT WILL SEE MEDICARE PATIENTS, YOU CAN ALSO FORGET PRESIDENT OBAMA'S PROMISE ABOUT KEEPING WHAT YOU HAVE. AFTER ALL, THE PROMISES ABOUT NOT CUTTING MEDICARE BENEFITS, CONGRESSIONAL DEMOCRATS AND THE WHITE HOUSE ARE USING THE MEDICARE COMMISSION TO TAKE AIM AT POPULAR MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFIT AND MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAM. UNDER THE FINANCE COMMITTEE BILL BILL, THIS NEW MEDICARE COMMISSION WOULD GIVE -- WOULD BE GIVEN EXPLICIT AUTHORITY TO CUT FEDERAL SUBSIDIES FOR MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PREMIUMS. NOW, THINK ABOUT THAT. TODAY THAT FEDERAL SUBSIDY PAYS FOR ABOUT 75% OF THE PREMIUM FOR MEDICARE PRESCRIPTION DRUG COVERAGE FOR SENIORS. BUT THE FINANCE BILL SAYS CUT THAT SUBSIDY. IT SAYS RAISE PART-D PREMIUMS FOR OUR SENIORS. THAT'S RIGHT. BUT AGAIN, DON'T TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. ON OCTOBER THE 13th, DURING THE FINANCE COMMITTEE HEALTH REFORM MARKUP, THE DIRECTOR OF THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE, C.B.O., WAS ASKED IF REDUCING PART-D SUBS DIS SUBSIDIES WOULD RAISE PREMIUMS. SO PART TWO HERE IS WHAT DR. ELMENDORF, THE DIRECTOR OF C.B.O., SAID, YES, REDUCED SUBSIDIES WOULD RAISE COSTS TO BENEFICIARIES,END OF QUOTE. SO THIS WAS CLEAR CONFIRMATION THAT IS MEDICARE CUTS PAYMENTS FOR MEDICARE BENEFITS, IT WILL CAUSE PREMIUMS FOR SENIORS AND THE DISABLED TO GO UP. AT A TIME WHEN THE COUNTRY IS FACING RECORD UNEMPLOYMENT AND THE AMERICANS ARE STRUGGLING TO KEEP UP WITH INCREASING DRUG -- PRESCRIPTION DRUG COSTS, THIS PROVISION WILL MAKE THESE LIFESAVING PRESCRIPTION DRUGS MORE EXPENSIVE FOR BENEFICIARIES. THESE ARE THE KINDS OF THINGS THAT GET BURIED INTO A 2,000-PAGE BILL. WHEN THE OTHER SIDE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THESE HUGE BILLS, THESE ARE SOME OF THE REASONS. THESE HEALTH CARE HEALTH REFORM BILLS ALSO PROPOSE TO CUT UP TO $170 BILLION FROM MEDICARE ADVANTAGE. IN MY HOME STATE OF IOWA, THESE CUTS WILL CAUSE ABOUT A 25% INCREASE IN THE AMOUNT OF MONEY MONEY -- OR A 25% CUT IN THE AMOUNT OF MONEY GOING TO EXTRA BENEFITS FOR 63,000 SENIORS WHO ARE ENROLLED IN MEDICARE ADVANTAGE. THAT MEANS THAT FEWER LOWER-INCOME IOWANS WILL BE GETTING THE EYEGLASSES, HEARING AIDS, CHRONIC CARE AGENT IN THEY HAVE COME TO RELY -- MANAGEMENT THAT THEY HAVE COME TO RELY ON. NOW, SOME CHRONIC CARE PROVIDERS GOT A SPELLER DEAL: THEY ARE EXEMPTED FROM THE MEDICARE COMMISSION'S PAYMENT CUTS. THAT MEANS THAT OTHER PROVIDERS AND PROGRAMS, LIKE DRUG BENEFITS FOR SENIORS AND MEDICARE ADVANTAGE, WILL BE BEARING THE BRUNT OF PAYMENT CUTS. THE MEDICARE COMMISSION WOULD ALSO BECOME A PERMANENT PROGRAM THAT CONGRESS WOULD, FOR PRACTICAL PURPOSES, BE UNABLE TO UNDO. BY MAKING THE COMMISSION A PERMANENT PROGRAM, IT BECOMES PART OF THE BASELINE IN THE BUDGET OVER THE NEXT DECADE, SO IT JUST GOES ON FOREVER, SORT OF LIKE THE ENERGIZER BUNNY. IT WILL JUST KEEP CUTTING AND CUTTING AND CUTTING. AND IF CONGRESS EVER WANTS TO SHUT OFF THOSE CUTS, THEN IT WILL HAVE TO OFF APPROXIMATE SET THE CUTS WHEN IT TERMINATES THIS COMMISSION. THAT WILL MAKE IT EFFECTIVELY IMPOSSIBLE AND THE DAMAGE WILL HAVE BEEN DONE. THESE MED CARE OF CUTS WILL -- THESE MEDICARE CUTS WILL ALSO MAKE THINGS WORSE FOR BENEFICIARIES IN RURAL AREAS. SENIORS IN RURAL AREAS ALREADY FACE MEDICARE ACK IS HE PROBLEMS. MEDICARE GENERALLY PAYS LESS THAN THOSE IN URBAN AREAS. CUTS OF THIS MAGNITUDE WILL MAKE IT MUCH HARDER FOR RURAL MEDICARE PROVIDERS TO CARE FOR BENEFICIARIES. BUT BELIEVE IT OR NOT, IT ONLY GETS WORSE. MY COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE INTEND TO CREATE A GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH PLAN. IF THIS GOVERNMENT PLAN PROVIDES -- PAYS PROVIDERS BASED ON ALREADY LOW MEDICARE RATES, THIS IS ONLY GOING TO MAKE THIS WHOLE SITUATION FOR ACCESS AND KEEPING HOSPITALS OPEN MUCH WORSE. THESE MEDICARE CUTS ARE ACHIEVED AT THE EXPENSE OF HEALTH CARE ACCESS AND QUALITY. THESE MEDICARE CUTS TURN A BLIND EYE TO THREATS TO HEALTH CARE QUALITY AND ACCESS. THERE ARE NO FAIL-SAFES IN THESE BILLS THAT KICK IN AUTOMATICALLY IF THESE DRASTIC CUTS CAUSE LIMITED PROVIDER ACCESS AND WORSE QUALITY OF CARE. INSTEAD, CONGRESS WILL HAVE TO STEP IN, AND THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE HAS ALREADY PREDICTED THAT THESE MEDICARE CUTS KEEP INCREASING BY -- CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? CUTS WILL KEEP INCREASING 10% TO 15% EACH YEAR OVER THE NEXT DECADE. SO 15% EVEN BEYOND THE YEAR 2019 2019. AND PROVISIONS LIKE THESE PRODUCTIVITY ADJUSTMENTS AND THE MEDICARE COMMISSION WILL DRIVE THE INCREASED COSTS -- OR CUTS TO THE PROGRAM. SO THIS WILL GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF THE DAMAGE THESE BILLS WILL DO TO HEALTH CARE, PARTICULARLY FOR SENIORS. THIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE CHALLENGE THAT CONGRESS WILL FACE IN THE NEXT DECADE IF THESE BILLS BECOME LAW. AND THIS WILL -- IS JUST WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THESE BILLS THAT WE'VE SEEN. WHO KNOWS WHAT IS BEING COOKED UP BEHIND CLOSED DOORS RIGHT NOW? ONCE AGAIN IT'S TIME TO BACK THIS PROCESS UP. IT'S HEADED IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. A BILL OF THIS MAGNITUDE SHOULD BE DONE ON A BIPARTISAN BASIS WITH BROAD SUPPORT. WE CAN GET IT DONE RIGHT IF WE WORK TOGETHER. THESE BILLS HAVE MASSIVE MEDICARE CUTS. THEY WILL DO PERMANENT DAMAGE TO OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM: HIGHER PRESCRIPTION DRUG PREMIUMS. THESE BILLS, MR. PRESIDENT, ARE TAKING US IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 04:46:34 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM NORTH DAKOTA IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 04:46:39 PM

    MR. DORGAN

    A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO I WAS ON AN AIRPLANE, AND THE PASSENGER SITTING NEXT…

    A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO I WAS ON AN AIRPLANE, AND THE PASSENGER SITTING NEXT TO ME HAD ON A PAIR OF SWEATPANTS AND LOOKED PRETTY RELAXED AND SO I ASKED HIM WHERE HE WAS GOING. HE SAID, I AM DECREASED THIS WAY BECAUSE I'M GOING TO THAILAND. AND THEN GOING TO SINGAPORE AND THEN GOING TO CHINA. AND SO HE SAID, I'VE GOT A 24-HOUR FLIGHT AHEAD OF ME, SO I DRESSED PRETTY CASUAL. I SAID, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO IN THAILAND, SINGAPORE AND CHINA? HE SAID, WELL, I REPRESENT -- I WORK FOR A COMPANY AND WE HAVE A LOT OF SMALLER COMPANIES THAT PROVIDE PARTS TO US, AND WE WANT THOSE SMALLER COMPANIES TO MOVE THOSE PARTS JOBS TO THAILAND AND SINGAPORE AND CHINA SO THAT IT COSTS US THROWS PURCHASE PARTS. SO HE SAID, I'M GOING TO THESE THREE COUNTRIES IN ORDER TO TRY TO SEE IF WE CAN OFFSHORE THESE JOBS FROM COMPANIES THAT WE PURCHASE FROM. AND I WAS THINKING ABOUT THAT AS I SAT THERE TALKING TO HIM. I WAS THINKING, WELL, THERE'S -- THERE ARE LIKELY HUNDREDS OF EMPLOYEES SOMEPLACE GOING TO WORK TODAY NOT KNOWING THAT HE'S ON AN AIRPLANE GOING OVER TO ASIA TO SEE IF HE CAN GET RID OF THEIR JOBS IN THE UNITED STATES AND MOVE THEM TO ASIA, SO THAT HE CAN PAY JUST A FRACTION OF THE PRICE. AND SO IT GOES, DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY. IT JUST HAPPENS TO BE SOMEONE I SAT NEXT TO ON AN AIR A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO. AND THIS IS ABOUT JUST THERE. IT IS ABOUT AMERICAN JOBS. I'M THINKING AS WE'RE TALKING, NOW, WE'VE LOST 7.6 MILLION JOBS IN THIS COUNTRY SINCE THE RECESSION BEGAN. 7.6 MILLION PEOPLE HAD TO COME HOME AND TELL THEIR FAMILY OR TELL THEIR LOVED ONES, I'VE LOST MY JOB, NOT BECAUSE I'M A BAD WORKER. I JUST LOST MY JOB BECAUSE THEY'RE CUTTING BACK AT THE OFFICE. MOST OF THAT INTO'S OF THE RECESSION. BUT GOING INTO THE RECESSION AND EVEN NOW COMING OUT OF THE RECESSION, WHEN WE STILL HAVE MOST OF THOSE FOLKS LOOKING FOR WORK, WE STILL HAVE PEOPLE GETTING ON AIRPLANES, FINDING WAYS TO MOVE AMERICAN JOBS OVERSEAS. AND SO, WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT WHERE WE ARE AND WHAT OUR AGENDA NEEDS TO BE HERE IN THE CONGRESS AND IN THE COUNTRY, IT SEEMS TO ME JOBS HAVE TO BE RIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE AGENDA. HOW DO YOU PUT PEOPLE BACK TO WORK? HOW DO YOU GET THE ECONOMIC ENGINE STARTED? HOW DO YOU STOP THE HEMORRHAGING OF JOBS TO CHINA WHERE YOU CAN FIND SOMEBODY TO WORK FOR 50 CENTS AN HOUR WORKING 12 OR 14 HOURS DAY SEVEN DAYS A WEEK? IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE AGENDA HAS TO HAVE JOBS AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY RIGHT AT THE TOP, PUTTING PEOPLE BACK TO WORK, GETTING THE ECONOMIC ENGINE STARTED. OUR AGENDA, OF COURSE, INCLUDES HEALTH CARE AND CLIMATE CHANGE, AND I WOULD BE THE FIRST TO ATTEST TO THE IMPORTANCE OF BOTH. HEALTH CARE IS A VERY IMPORTANT SUBJECT. THE RELENTLESS CLIMB OF INCREASING HEALTH CARE COSTS YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR MEAN THAT FAMILIES TAKE A LOOK AT THIS BILL AND WONDER, HOW ON EARTH CAN I PAY THIS BILL? IT'S 10%, 12%, 14% HIGHER THIS YEAR THAN LAST YEAR IN ORDER TO PROVIDE INSURANCE FOR MY FAMILY. I CAN'T DROP THE INURNS, AND YET I CAN'T AFFORD TO.FOR IT, EITHER. BUSINESSES -- SMALL, MEDIUM, AND LARGE BUSINESSES TRYING FIGURE OUT HOW DO WE PAY THESE INCREASED COSTS? THAT IS IMPORTANT. AND CLIMATE CHANGE AND GLOBAL WARMING -- IT IS IMPORTANT. NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT. WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A LOWER CARBON FUTURE. AND WE NEED TO FIND TWICE ADDRESS THAT. BUT IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE MOST IMPORTANT AGENDA WHILE STANDING IN A VERY DEEP ECONOMIC WHOLE HOLE, THE DEEPEST HOLE SINCE THE ECONOMIC DEPRESSION OF THE 19 30'S, THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF THAT AGENDA IS TRYING TO PUT PEOPLE BACK TO WORK. RESTARTING THE ECONOMIC ENGINE AND PUTTING PEOPLE BACK TO WORK WITH JOBS THAT PAY WELL, THAT'S WHAT MAKES EVERYTHING ELSE POSSIBLE IN THIS COUNTRY. IT IS THE MEN YIEWNTDZ SUCCESS THAT HAS LIFTED SO MANY -- IT IS THE MENU AND THE SUCCESS THAT HAS LIFTED SO MANY OUT OF POVERTY AND EXPANDED THE MIDDLE CLASS IN A MANNER THAT ALMOST NO ONE ELSE ON THIS PLANET WAS ABLE TO DO. IT IS THE WAY WE SUCCEED IN THIS COUNTRY. ECONOMIC EXPANSION AND OPPORTUNITY FOR THE AMERICAN WORKER. SO, WHILE I THINK HEALTH CARE AND CLIMATE CHANGE ARE IMPORTANT, MY AGENDA, IT SEEMS TO ME, TO PUT JOBS RIGHT AT THE TOP. TO TRY TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE IN THE DEEPEST RECESSION OR HAVE BEEN SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION. THE THIRD QUARTER NUMBERS OF THIS YEAR SUGGEST THERE'S BEEN ECONOMIC GROWTH. BUT ECONOMIC GROWTH OF G.D.P. DOES NOT RELATE TO PEOPLE GOING BACK ONTO PAYROLLS. 263,000 PEOPLE LOST THEIR JOBS LAST MONTH, LOST THEIR JOBS A LOT OF MONTH, NOT GAINED THEIR JOBS. AND THAT RELATES TO THE 7.6 MILLION PEOPLE TOTAL THAT HAVE LOST THEIR JOBS SINCE THE RECESSION BEGAN. SO IT SEEMS TO ME THE FIRST PRIORITY IS TO START THE ECONOMIC ENGINE, DO THE THINGS THAT PUT TOGETHER THE POLICIES POLICIES THAT BEGIN TO START THIS BIG AMERICAN ECONOMIC ENGINE AGAIN. GET THE ECONOMY BACK ON TRACK AND CREATE THOSE JOBS GEFNLT I INDICATE OFTEN THAT I TAUGHT A BIT OF ECONOMICS IN COLLEGE. AND I USED TO -- WHEN I WOULD TEACH THE SUPPLY-DEMAND CURVE AND ALL THE OTHER THINGS THAT YOU TEACH IN ECONOMICS, I USED TO SAY BY FAR MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANYTHING ELSE IN THIS BOOK IS TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE AMERICAN ECONOMY EXPANDS AS A RESULT OF CONFIDENCE -- CONFIDENCE. WHEN PEOPLE ARE CONFIDENT ABOUT THE FUTURE AND THEY FEEL THAT CONFIDENCE, THEY DO THE THINGS THAT MANIFEST CONFIDENCE. THEY BHIE A SUIT, BUY A SUIT, BUY A CAR, BUY A HARKS TAKE A TRIP. THEY DO THE THINGS THAT EXPAND THE ECONOMY. THAT'S JUST ALL ABOUT CONFIDENCE. AND WHEN THEY ARE CONFIDENT AND DOT THINGS THAT EXSPANNED THE ECONOMY, PEOPLE WORK, THE ECONOMY BEGINS TO HUM ALONG AND THIS COUNTRY DOES VERY, VERY WELL. WHEN THEY'RE NOT CONFIDENT ABOUT THE FUTURE, EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE HAPPENS. YOU HAVE ECONOMIC CONTRACTION. THEY DON'T BUY THE SUIT, DON'T BUY THE CAR, DON'T BUY THE HOME, DON'T TAKE TRIP AND YOU CONTRACT THE ECONOMY. CONFIDENCE IS AT THE ROOT OF PROGRESS. SO THE QUESTION IS, IT SEEMS TO ME, STANDING IN THIS DEEP ECONOMIC HOLE, HOW DO WE RESTORE CONFIDENCE? HOW DO WE DO THAT? THIS PRESIDENT HAS ONLY BEEN IN OFFICE 10 MONTHS. HE INHERITED THE BIGGEST ECONOMIC MESS ANYBODY HAS INHERITED SINCE THE GREAT DEPRESSION. THAT'S JUST A FACT. WE HAVE A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT WANT TO BLAME THIS NEW ADMINISTRATION FOR ALL THE ECONOMIC ILLS OF THE COUNTRY. THIS PRESIDENT INHERITED THE BIGGEST ECONOMIC MESS THAT ANY PRESIDENT HAS EVER INHERITED SINGS THE 1930'S. BUT WHAT DO WE DO TO RESTORE CONFIDENCE AND WHAT DO WE DO TO ADDRESS THIS IRV OF THIS ISSUE OF THE ECONOMY? ONE THING IS FINANCIAL REFORM. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT IF THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM IN THIS COUNTRY JUST WENT COMPLETELY AWRY AND WE HAD THIS CARNIVAL OF GREED, AN AT MOST FEARATMOSPHERE OF ANYTHING GOES, UNBELIEVABLE GAMBLING GOING ON. THEY COULD HAVE PUT A GAMBLING TABLE IN THE BANKS. THINGS LIKE CREDIT SWAPS AND C.D.O.'S, YOU NAME IT THESE FOLKS STEERED THE COUNTRY'S ECONOMY RIGHT INTO THE DITCH. IF THAT'S THE CASE -- AND I BELIEVE IT IS -- THE FIRST STEP TO TRY TO RESTORE CONFIDENCE IS TO REFORM THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM, TO SAY, THIS CANNOT HAPPEN AGAIN. WE WON'T ALLOW IT. WE'VE GOT TO FIX IT. 15 YEARS AGO I WROTE THE COVER STORY FOR THE WASHINGTON MONTHLY MAGAZINE CALLED "VERY RISKY BUSINESS" IN WHICH I DESCRIBED EVEN THEN THAT FDIC-INSURED FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS -- THAT IS, FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS THAT WERE GUARANTEED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND THE TAXPAYER, THEREFORE -- WERE TRADING ON THEIR OWN PROPRIETARY ACCOUNTS AND DERIVATIVES. I SAID THEN, THEY JUST AS WELL PUT A KENO PIT RIGHT IN THE LOBBY OF THE BANK. 15 YEARS LATER THE WHOLE THING COLLAPSED. THE TENT COLLAPSED ALL OVER OF IT. IT SEEMS TO ME FINANCIAL REFORM HAS TO BE THE FIRST STEP IN DEVELOPING SOME CONFIDENCE IN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT THIS WON'T HAPPEN AGAIN. REGULATIONS -- YOU NEED REGULATIONS. I KNOW REGULATION IS A FOUR-LETTER WORD TO SOME. IT IS NOT TO ME. IF EVER THERE WAS DEMONSTRATION THAT YOU NEED REGULATIONS, IT IS THIS CARNIVAL OF GREED THAT HAPPENED IN THE LAST DECADE OR SO WHERE WE HAD REGULATORS COME TO TONG WHO SAID, YOU KNOW WHAT? I INTEND TO BE WOEFULLY BLIND. I KNOW I'M GOING TO GET PAID BY THE FESMGHT I KNOW I'M SUPPOSED TO BE A REGULATOR. BUT I WANT TO BOAST ABOUT BEING WILLING OR ABLE TO WATCH. I WANT THE MARKET SYSTEM TO BE WHATEVER IT IS. THE FACT IS THIS OUGHT TO DEMONSTRATE TO US THAT WE NEED REGULATORS WHO WILL KEEP A WATCHFUL EYE ON THE SYSTEM SO THEY CAN CALL THE FOULS. WE NEED REFEREES. THAT'S WHAT REGULATORS ARE FOR. WHEN SOMEONE COMMITS A FOUL THAT INJURES THE FREE MARKET SYSTEM, THEY NEED TO BLOW THE WHISTLE. YOU NEED EFFECTIVE REGULATORY THOMPLET THAT'S NUMBER ONE. NUMBER TWO, JUST DEAL WITH THE ISSUES THAT WE KNOW ARE INAPPROPRIATE. NEVER SHOULD AN FDIC-INSURED INSTITUTION BE TRADING AN UNBELIEVABLY RISKY INSTRUMENT ON THEIR OWN PROPRIETARY ACCOUNTS AND IT IS STILL GOING ON TODAY. YOU'VE GOT TO FIX THAT. NUMBER THREE, THE ISSUE OF TOO BIG TO FAIL. HAVE WE NOT LEARNED THAT YOU CAN'T HAVE INSTITUTIONS THAT GROW TOO BIG TO FAIL WITHOUT IT BEING NO-FAULT CAPITALISM. I HEAR ALL THE FOLKS COME HERE CROWING ABOUT THE ISSUE OF THE MARKET SYSTEM AND FREE MARKET CAPITALISM. WELL, THE FACT IS, WHEN YOU HAVE INSTITUTIONS THAT GROW TOO BIG TO FAIL, IT MEANS WHEN THEY STEER THE COUNTRY INTO THE DITCH AND THEY'RE ABOUT TO GO BELLY UP, THE AMERICAN TAXPAYER IS TOLD, YOU KNOW WHAT? IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO TAKE SOME ACTION HERE. WE INTEND TO HAVE YOU BE A BACKSTOP FOR THE BIGGEST FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN THE COUNTRY. OH, WE KNOW THEY PAID BIG BONUSES. WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE TENS AND TENS OF BILLIONS OF BONUSES BEING PAID FOR FAILURE. BUT WE DON'T WARCHLTS TO YOU PAY ATTENTION TO THAT. NOT THE FACT THAT THEY LOST A LOT OF MONEY AND THEN PAID BIG BONUSES. WE WANT YOU TO BAIL THEM OUT BECAUSE THEY'RE TOO BIG TO BE ALLOWED TO FAIL. THIS COUNTRY SHOULD NO LONGER ALLOW THAT. AT THE VERY LEAST WE HAVE TO ADDRESS THIS QUESTION OF TOO BIG TO FAIL. THAT IS NO-FAULT CAPITALISM AND IS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO CONTINUE TO EXIST. FINANCIAL REFORM RESTORES CONFIDENCE IN THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. THAT HAS TO LEAD THE LIST. SECOND, THE ISSUE OF FISCAL POLICY AND DEFICITS. IT IS NOT IRRELEVANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE, IN MY JUDGMENT, RUNNING VERY LARGE BUDGET DEFICITS THAT ARE UNSUSTAINABLE. IT IS RELEVANT FOR THIS ADMINISTRATION TO POINT OUT THAT WHEN YOU HAVE A STEEP ECONOMIC DOWNTURN, THE DEEP RECESSION THAT WE'VE EXPERIENCED, YOU HAVE A DRAMATIC LOSS OF REVENUE COMING INTO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT -- $400 BILLION LOST OF REVENUE; YOU HAVE A VERY SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF INCREASED EXPENDITURE BECAUSE THERE ARE ECONOMIC STABLIZERS SUCH AS UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION AND OTHER THINGS THAT WHEN TIMES ARE TOUGH, THEY KICK IN AND IT COSTS YOU MORE. SO YOU HAVE LESS REVENUE AND HIGHER COSTS. AND THE FACT IS, THIS ADMINISTRATION INHERITED THIS UNBELIEVABLE FISCAL POLICY OF DECIDING, LET'S CUT TAXES FOR THE HIGHEST-INCOME AMERICANS AND THEN WE'LL GO TO WAR AND NOT ASK ANYBODY TO PAY FOR ONE PENNY OF T WE'LL CHARGE IT ALL. WE'LL CHARGE ALL OF IT FOR EIGHT YEARS. AND SO THIS COUNTRY IS IN A BIG HOLE. THE FACT IS WE CAN'T ALLOW THAT TO BE A SUSTAINABLE POLICY. WE HAVE TO CHANGE IT. THE PRESIDENT KNOWS T SO DOES THE COUNTRY. IF WE ARE GOING TO RESTORE CONFIDENCE BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE IN WHAT WE ARE DOING, THERE NEEDS TO BE A PLAN TO ADDRESS THESE VERY LARGE BUDGET DEFICITS. WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO OFFER AND PROVIDE A LEVEL OF GOVERNMENT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE EITHER UNWILLING OR UNABLE TO PAY FOR. THAT'S JUST A FACT. AND IN MY JUDGMENT, WITH RESPECT TO THIS AGENDA OF, NUMBER ONE, FINANCIAL REFORM; NUMBER TWO, ADDRESSING FISCAL POLICY AND DEFICITS, WE MUST DEVELOP TOGETHER A PLAN TO TAME THESE FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICITS AND GET THIS FISCAL POLICY BACK ON TRACK. THAT'S JUST A FACT. AND WHILE I'M TALKING ABOUT IT LET ME ALSO SAY THAT IN ADDITION TO BUDGET DEFICITS, WHICH IN MY JUDGMENT ARE UNSUSTAINABLE -- EVEN -- I SHOULD SAY, ESPECIALLY IN THE OUT YEARS, BECAUSE I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU RUN BIG DEFICITS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DEEPEST RECESSION. YOUR REVENUE IS DOWN, EXPENDITURES ARE UP. BUT I'M TALKING ABOUT IN THE OUT YEARS. THIS IS UNSUSTAINABLE AND WE MUST COME TOGETHER ON A PLAN TO ADDRESS IT. THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DEFICIT ISSUE ARE THE TRADE DEFICITS, AND THE TRADE DEFICITS ARE UNBELIEVABLE. AND WE ALSO HAVE TO RESPOND TO THE TRADE DEFICITS AND THAT RELATES TO WHAT I HAVE DESCRIBED ABOUT THE FELLOW ON THE AIRPLANE GOING TO MOVE AMERICAN JOBS OVERSEAS. I TALKED ABOUT THIS ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, BUT THIS IS -- THIS CHART SHOWS THE TRADE DEFICITS WE FACE. YOU CAN MAKE A CASE ON BUDGETED DEFICITS THAT THAT'S SOMETHING WE ARE EMBAYING TO REPAY TO OUR SEVERS. YOU CAN'T MAKE AT THAT CASE WITH A TRADE DEFICITS. THESE ARE MONEYS WE HAVE TO REPAY TO OTHER COUNTRIES. LAST YEAR WE HAD AN $800 BILLION MERCHANDISE TRADE DEFICIT. THIS IS AN AVALANCHE OF RED INK AND IT IS GOING TO HAVE TO BE REPAID AND IT WEAKENS THIS COUNTRY. AND LET ME HE JUST SAY THIS GETS WORSE EVERY SINGLE YEAR. THE MOST IMPORTANT PAFRT THAT IS THE TRADE DEFICIT WITH CHINA. NEARLY ONE-THIRD OF THIS TRADE DEFICIT IS WITH THE COUNTRY OF CHINA. AND THIS DEFICIT INCREASES YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR AFTER YEAR. I'VE TOLD FOREVER ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE -- AND I WILL AGAIN EVER SO BRIEFLY -- THE STORY ABOUT HUFFY BICYCLES. IN THE FIRST BOOK I WROTE, I WROTE EXTENSIVELY ABOUT THESE PRODUCTS. HUFFY BICYCLES, THE LITTLE RED WAGON, RADIO FLYER, ETCH-A-SKETCH, ALL THESE, GONE TO CHINA. THEY'RE ALL MADE IN CHINA. BUT HUFFY BICYCLES WERE MADE IN OHIO. ALL THOSE FOLKS THAT MADE HUFFY BICYCLES WERE PROUD OF THEIR JOBS, AND THEN THEY ALL LOST THEIR JOBS. THEY ALL GOT FIRED. THIS BICYCLE STILL EXISTS. YOU CAN STILL BUY IT. IT'S MADE IN CHINA. THE BRAND IS OWNED BY THE CHINESE. FOR $11 AN HOUR IN OHIO THAT WERE PAID TO WORKERS MAKING THE BICYCLE -- $11 AN HOUR -- THIS JOB WENT TO CHINA WHERE THEY PAID THEM 30 CENTS AN HOUR, WORKED THEM 12 TO 14 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK. THE QUESTION IS THIS: SHOULD AMERICANS BE ASKED TO COMPETE WITH THAT? CAN THEY COMPETE WITH THAT? THE ANSWER IS, NO, OF COURSE NOT. IF I MIGHT SHOW A COUPLE OTHER POINTS ABOUT WHAT CAUSES THIS TRADE DEFICIT, 98% OF THE CARS DRIVEN IN SOUTH KOREA ARE MADE IN SOUTH KOREA. EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS WHY THAT IS. SOUTH KOREA WANTS IT THAT WAY. THEY DON'T WANT AMERICAN CARS IN SOUTH KOREA. SO VIRTUALLY ALL THE CARS IN SOUTH KOREA ARE MADE IN SOUTH KOREA. NOW HERE'S OUR BILATERAL AUTOMOBILE TRADE WITH SOUTH KOREA. LAST YEAR THEY SENT US 730,000 CARS TO BE SOLD IN THE UNITED STATES. WE WERE ABLE TO SELL THEM 4,000. THINK OF THAT. 730,000 KOREAN CARS PUT ON SHIPS TO BE SOLD IN THE UNITED STATES, AND WE WERE ABLE TO GET 4,200 AMERICAN CARS INTO SOUTH KOREA. AND IT'S GOING TO BE MUCH, MUCH WORSE WITH CHINA, BY THE WAY. SO MY POINT IS VERY SIMPLY, WE HAVE THESE GIANT TRADE DEFICITS GROWING AND GROWING AND GROWING COMBINED WITH A FISCAL POLICY DEFICIT THAT IS RECORD HIGH. AND THIS IS UNSUSTAINABLE. IT IS JUST UNSUSTAINABLE. SO, WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH FINANCIAL REFORM AND WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH DEFICITS. FISCAL POLICY DEFICITS AND TRADE DEFICITS. AND THEN FINALLY, THE ISSUE IS JOBS. WHEN I TALKED ABOUT RESTORING THE ECONOMIC STRENGTH OF THIS COUNTRY, IT MEANS TALKING ABOUT HOW DO YOU PUT PEOPLE BACK TO WORK. YOU KNOW, IT IS INTERESTING TO ME THAT THE WALL STREET FIRMS ARE REPORTING RECORD PROFITS. THEY ARE REPORTING THEY'RE GOING TO PAY RECORD BONUSES. AND SO THEY HEALED. THEY'RE ALL FINE AND THOSE 7.6 MILLION PEOPLE THAT LOST THEIR JOBS, THEY'RE STILL OUT THERE LOOKING FOR WORK. AND THEY OUGHT TO BE PLENTY ANGRY ABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON. THE QUESTION IS: HOW DO WE CREATE JOBS AND KEEP JOBS HERE? I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THAT JUST FOR A MOMENT. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE ISSUE OF JOB CREATION, MY COLLEAGUES -- SENATOR WARNER AND CORKER -- HAVE AN IDEA THAT I HAVE EMBRACED, MAKES A LOT OF SEBS. THAT IS JOB CREATION IN MOST CASES IS THE AS A RESULT OF SMALL- AND MEDIUM-SIZE BUSINESSES THAT HAVE AN IDEA AND ARE RUNNING BUSINESSES AND PUTTING PEOPLE TO WORK ON MAIN STREET. YET, THEY ARE THE VERY ONES THAT CAN'T GET LENDING. YOU NEED LENDING WHEN YOU'RE IN BUSINESS. YOU NEED LOAN FUNDS TO FINANCE YOUR INVENTORY AND SO ON. THE VERY PEOPLE THAT CAN'T GET BUSINESS LOANS ARE THE VERY ONES THAT WOULD BE CREATING THE JOBS. AND SO THIS CONGRESS, WITHOUT MY VOTE, VOTED FOR $7 HUB HUNDRED BILLION IN TARP FUNDS TO PROVIDE A PILLOWS, ASPIRIN AND SOFT LANDING FOR THE BIGGEST FINANCIAL FIRMS IN THE COUNTRY, THAT RAN THE COUNTRY'S ECONOMY INTO THE DITCH. MY COLLEAGUES SUGGEST AND I AGREE WE PROBABLY OUGHT TO CONVERT A PORTION OF THAT -- JUST A PORTION OF THAT -- TO CREATE A MECHANISM BY WHICH WE WOULD HAVE A BANK OF SMALL BUSINESS LOANS THAT WOULD BE AVAILABLE TO SMALL- AND MEDIUM-SIZE BUSINESSES. THERE'S NO EXCUSE NOT TO USE SOME OF THOSE FUNDS FOR THE RIGHT PURPOSE IF YOU BELIEVE THEY WERE APPROPRIATED FOR THE WRONG PURPOSES, THAT IS TO HELP OUT THE BIGGEST FIRMS THAT STEERED US INTO THE DITCH, HOW ABOUT HELPING OUT MAIN STREET BUSINESSES THAT WOULD CREATE SOME JOBS? SECOND, I THINK WE OUGHT TO FINALLY CONSIDER -- AND WE TALKED ABOUT IT FOR A LONG WHILE -- CREATING AN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT BANK, AND OVER A PERIOD OF 30 YEARS FLOAT THE BONDS THAT WOULD ALLOW TO YOU REBUILD THE INFRASTRUCTURE IN THIS COUNTRY THAT WILL PUT MASSIVE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE BACK TO WORK. I MEAN, WE CAN DO THAT. IF YOU CREATE IT THE RIGHT WAY WITH AN INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT BANK, YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BLOW A HOLE IN THE FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICIT, BUT YOU ARE GOING TO PUT A LOT OF PEOPLE BACK TO WORK. THE ISSUE THAT HAS BEEN USED PREVIOUSLY DURING CHRONIC AREAS OF UNEMPLOYMENT, WHICH I THINK WE SHOULD CONSIDER, IS THE ISSUE OF THE NEW JOBS TAX CREDIT. WE DID THAT IN 1977, IN 1978, AND THE NEW JOBS TAX CREDIT, IT WAS REPORTED, PROVIDED UP TO 2.1 MILLION NEW JOBS IN THIS COUNTRY. AND I THINK WE OUGHT TO CONSIDER THAT. AND FINALLY, WE OUGHT TO END THE DISINCENTIVE FOR CREATING JOBS BY GETTING RID OF THESE PERNICIOUS TAX BREAKS THAT SAY IF YOU FIRE YOUR WORKERS AND LOCK YOUR PLANT AND SHIP THE WHOLE THING OVERSEAS, WE'LL GIVE AWE BIG FAT TAX BREAK. YES, THAT EXISTS IN TAX LAW TODAY, AND WE CAN'T GET IT CHANGED. IT'S OUTRAGEOUS, IN MY JUDGMENT. LET'S PROVIDE SOME INCENTIVES FOR PEOPLE TO HIRE EMPLOYEES IN THIS COUNTRY AND END THE DISINCENTIVES BY GETTING RID OF TAX BREAKS FOR THOSE COMPANIES THAT SHIP THEIR JOBS OUT OF THE COUNTRY. MR. PRESIDENT, THERE IS A LOT TO DO. I JUST DESCRIBED SOME BIG ISSUES THAT FOR ME WOULD REPRESENT THE TOP OF THE AGENDA. I KNOW THAT'S NOT THE AGENDA WE'RE ON AT THE MOMENT. I UNDERSTAND THE PLAY GETS CALLED, WE ALL RUN TOWARDS THE SAME GOAL POST. BUT THE FACT IS THIS COUNTRY, IN MY JUDGMENT, WILL NOT HAVE THE KIND OF ECONOMIC RECOVERY UNLESS WE PUT AT THE TOP OF THE AGENDA AS WE MOVE FORWARD THE JEWISH OF FINANCIAL -- THE ISSUE OF FINANCIAL REFORM, WHICH MY COLLEAGUE IS WORKING ON, COLLEAGUES ARE WORKING ON IN THE BANKING COMMITTEE. IT'S URGENT WE GET THAT DONE. IN MY JUDGMENT, THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN AT THE TOP OF THE AGENDA. THE ISSUE OF FISCAL POLICY DEFICITS AND TRADE POLICY DEFICITS AND FINALLY THE ISSUE OF JOBS. I WANT TO MENTION THAT THERE'S ONE ADDITIONAL ISSUE THAT HAS BEEN KICKING AROUND OR HAS BEEN KICKING AROUND AND DISCUSSED IN THE CONTEXT OF CLIMATE CHANGE. AS I SAID WHEN I STARTED THIS PRESENTATION, I DON'T THINK CLIMATE CHANGE IS IRRELEVANT AT ALL. I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT. FOR ME, IT JUST WOULDN'T LEAD THE SET OF ISSUES THAT WOULD REQUIRE US FIRST TO PUT THE ECONOMY BACK ON TRACK. BUT WITH RESPECT TO THE ISSUE OF CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY, PART OF HAVING CONFIDENCE IN THE FUTURE IS ALSO HAVING SOME ENERGY SECURITY. AND ENERGY SECURITY AND NATIONAL SECURITY, IN MY JUDGMENT, GO TOGETHER IN MANY WAYS. IF TOMORROW, GOD FORBID, WE HAD AN INTERRUPTION IN THE PIPELINE OF OIL THAT COMES INTO THIS COUNTRY, OUR ECONOMY WOULD BE FLAT ON ITS BACK. WE GET ABOUT ONE-FOURTH OF THE 85 MILLION BARRELS OF OIL THAT ARE TAKEN OUT OF THIS PLANET EVERY DAY. EVERY SINGLE DAY 85 MILLION BARRELS ARE SUCKED OUT OF THIS PLANET, AND ONE-FOURTH OF IT NEEDS TO COME TO THIS COUNTRY. WE HAVE A PRODIGIOUS APPETITE FOR ENERGY. THE PROBLEM IS 70% OF THAT COMES FROM OTHER COUNTRY. 70% OF THE OIL WE USE COMES FROM OTHER COUNTRIES. AND SO WE HAVE A REAL ENERGY SECURITY ISSUE, AND WE NEED TO WORK HARD TO BE LESS DEPENDENT ON OTHER COUNTRIES, SOME OF WHOM DON'T LIKE US VERY MUCH, FOR THE OIL WE NEED TO RUN THIS AMERICAN ECONOMY. NOW, WE HAVE WRITTEN A BILL ABOUT FOUR MONTHS AGO IN THE ENERGY COMMITTEE, A BILL THAT DEALS WITH ALL OF THE ENERGY POLICIES THAT WOULD MAKE AMERICA MORE ENERGY SECURE AND PROVIDE GREATER NATIONAL SECURITY AS A RESULT. THAT BILL, IN MY JUDGMENT, SHOULD BE ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE BEFORE THE CLIMATE CHANGE BILL. IT DOES ALL OF THE THINGS IN POLICY YOU WOULD DO TO ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE. IT MAXIMIZES THE USE OF RENEWABLE ENERGY SO THAT YOU CAN PRODUCE ELECTRICITY WHERE THE WIND BLOWS AND THE SUN SHINES AND MOVE IT THROUGH A TRANSMISSION, MODERN TRANSMISSION SYSTEM TO THE LODE CENTERS WHERE THE ENERGY IS NEEDED. IT DOES BUILDING RETRO FITS AND EFFICIENCIES WHICH IS THE LOWEST HANGING FRUIT IN ENERGY. FOR THE FIRST TIME ESTABLISHES A RENEWABLE ELECTRICITY STANDARD OF 15%. IT OPENS UP THE EASTERN GULF FOR OFFSHORE OIL AND NATURAL GAS PRODUCTION. IT DOES ALL OF THE THINGS THAT YOU WOULD DO TO TAKE SIGNIFICANT STEPS TOWARDS ADDRESSING CLIMATE CHANGE. MAXIMIZING THE PRODUCTION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY MOVES IN EXACTLY THE RIGHT DIRECTION. RETROFITTING BUILDING DOES THE RIGHT THING. R.E.S. IS EXACTLY THE RIGHT POLICY. SO I WOULD SAY TO THOSE WHO ARE PUSHING VERY HARD THAT WE NEED TO HAVE CLIMATE CHANGE ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE IMMEDIATELY, THE FACT IS IT'S MUCH MORE IMPORTANT IN TERMS OF PUBLIC POLICY TO MOVE THIS COUNTRY IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION TO HAVE THE ENERGY BILL ON THE FLOOR. THAT ENERGY BILL INCLUDES A WHOLE SERIES OF INVESTMENTS TO MAKE COAL DEVELOPMENT, WHICH, BY THE WAY, IS THE MOST ABUNDANT RESOURCE IN THIS COUNTRY; TO MAKE COAL DEVELOPMENT COMPATIBLE WITH OUR NEED TO ADDRESS A LOWER CARBON FUTURE. CARBON CAPTURE AND SEQUESTERING FROM COAL DEVELOPMENT, VERY IMPORTANT. CARBON CAPTURE AND BENEFICIAL USE, ALL OF THESE INVESTMENTS REQUIRE MONEY, AND WE PUT SOME OF THIS MONEY IN THIS ENERGY BILL SO WE CAN CONTINUE TO USE THAT RESOURCE AS WELL. THIS BILL MAKES SENSE. AND, IN MY JUDGMENT, IT OUGHT TO HAVE A PRIORITY TO COME TO THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE AFTER THE FIRST PRIORITIES I DESCRIBED OF FINANCIAL REFORM AND DEFICITS AND JOBS. BECAUSE ALL OF THAT, I THINK, IS NECESSARY TO ADDRESS THE VERY SERIOUS ECONOMIC QUESTIONS THAT FACE AMERICANS. LET ME CONCLUDE BY SAYING I MENTIONED A FEW MOMENTS AGO THAT WE HAVE THESE VERY LARGE FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICITS, AND I THINK IT WOULD BE USEFUL TO SAY THAT WHILE THERE ARE EXPENDITURE CUTS WE SHOULD MAKE, AND THERE ARE PLENTY THAT I HAVE SUGGESTED, I THINK WE SHOULD TIGHTEN OUR BELTS, THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO BEGIN TO REDUCE THE FEDERAL BUDGET DEFICIT, AND THAT IS TO ASK THOSE WHO ARE NOT PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE TO PAY SOME. AND I WANT TO DESCRIBE THAT BY SHOWING A CHART. THIS IS A CHART FROM A COMPANY THAT IS PART OF THEIR FINANCIAL REPORT. AND I'M DOING THIS ONLY TO SAY THIS IS JUST A REPRESENTATION OF MANY COMPANIES, BUT THIS ONE SAYS "THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT IS THIS COMPANY'S LARGEST SINGLE CUSTOMER. THE GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS SUPPLIES NUCLEAR POWER SYSTEMS AND SO ON. WE'RE ACTIVE IN RESEARCH." WHO IS THIS COMPANY? THIS IS A COMPANY THAT DECIDED IN FILING WITH THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, IT DECIDED TO SAY THE COMPANY IS A PANAMANIAN CORPORATION THAT HAS EARNED ALL OF ITS INCOME OUTSIDE OF PANAMA. IT'S NOT PRELY A PANAMANIAN CORPORATION. IT IS LEGALLY NOW, BUT IT USED TO BE AN AMERICAN CORPORATION THAT DECIDEED TO DO WHAT IS CALLED AN INVERSION. IT MEANS DISAVOWING YOUR U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND SAYING AS A CORPORATION I DON'T WANT TO BE AN AMERICAN CITIZEN ANYMORE. I WANT TO BE A CITIZEN OF PANAMA. SO THAT'S WHAT THIS COMPANY DID. ALL RIGHT? WE DECIDED SOME WHILE AGO YOU WANT TO DECIDE NOT TO BE AN AMERICAN CITIZEN AS A COMPANY, THEN DON'T TELL US YOU WANT TO KEEP DOING BUSINESS WITH THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT. THE ONLY REASON YOU WANT TO INVERT AND GET RID OF YOUR AMERICAN CITIZEN IS TO AVOID PAYING U.S. TAXES. WE SAY YOU DON'T WANT TO PAY U.S. TAXES, YOU KNOW WHAT? YOU OUGHT NOT GET BUSINESS WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. WELL, THIS COMPANY DIDN'T LIKE THAT SO MUCH THIS COMPANY HAS 2007 REVENUES THAT WERE SHELTERED NOW BECAUSE THEY INVERTED TO PANAMA. 2007 REVENUES OF $2.6 BILLION. $2.6 BILLION. NOW, SO, IT'S TAKEN THE GOVERNMENT A LITTLE LONGER THAN IT SHOULD HAVE TO SHUT OFF THESE COMPANIES THAT INVERTED FROM DOING BUSINESS WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. BUT NOW WE HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING THAT ONE OF THE FEDERAL AGENCIES QUIETLY APPROACHED THE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE AND ASKED TO INSERT A CLAUSE IN THE APPROPRIATIONS BILL THAT SAYS THAT THE CONTRACTING BAN CAN BE ONLY ADMINISTERED CONSISTENT WITH U.S. INTERNATIONAL TRADE AGREEMENTS, AND THAT WAS DONE BECAUSE THERE'S DISCUSSION OF A AGREEMENT WITH PANAMA. AND SO WITH RESPECT TO THE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH PANAMA, THE CONTRACTING BAN WOULD BE LIMITED TO NOT AFFECT THIS COMPANY THAT INVERTED TO PANAMA. ISN'T THAT INTERESTING? ACTUALLY WE'VE GOT PEOPLE IN GOVERNMENT TRYING TO HELP THE COMPANY GET FEDERAL BUSINESS ONCE AGAIN, DESPITE THE FACT THIS COMPANY MOVED AWAY TO PANAMA AS A LEGAL ADDRESS IN ORDER TO AVOID PAYING U.S. TAXES. AND IT'S NOT JUST THIS COMPANY. SOME LONG WHILE AGO, PROBABLY TWO YEARS AGO, I BROUGHT TO THE FLOOR OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE, AND MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES HAVE SINCE USED THIS, THIS PICTURE, WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT EVERYBODY PAYING THEIR FAIR SHARE, THIS IS A PICTURE OF A LITTLE FOUR-STORY BUILDING IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS. IT'S TKAULD THE UGLAND HOUSE. -- IT'S CALLED THE UGLAND HOUSE. SOME ENTERPRISING REPORTING BY MR. EVANS FROM BLOOMBERG. MR. EVANS FROM BLOOMBERG DID THE REPORTING ON THIS. THIS LITTLE WHITE BUILDING ON CHURCH STREET IN THE CAYMAN ISLANDS WAS HOME TO 12,748 CORPORATIONS. NOW, THEY'RE NOT THERE. THAT'S JUST A LEGAL ADDRESS, A FIGMENT CREATED BY LAWYERS TO SAY IF YOU RUN YOUR MAIL THROUGH A MAILBOX IN THIS BUILDING, YOU CAN AVOID PAYING U.S. TAXES. ISN'T THAT WONDERFUL? I THINK IT'S UNPATRIOTIC. IT'S GOING ON ALL THE TIME. BY THE WAY, SINCE I FIRST USED THIS CHART, MY UNDERSTANDING IS THAT THERE ARE NOW NOT 12,000 USING THIS ADDRESS. 18,000 CORPORATIONS. IS THAT UNBELIEVABLE? MY POINT IS WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT THE NEED FOR FISCAL POLICY REFORM, LET'S CUT SOME SPENDING, LET'S TIGHTEN OUR BELTS. LET'S ALSO ASK SOME INTERESTS THAT DECIDED THEY WANT ALL THE BENEFITS AMERICA HAS TO OFFER BUT THEY DON'T WANT TO PAY TAXES, LET'S ASK THEM TO BECOME TAX-PAYING CITIZENS, CORPORATE TAX-PAYING CITIZENS ONCE AGAIN. THERE'S A LOT TO DO MR. PRESIDENT. AND I'M CONVINCED WE CAN DO IT IF WE HAVE THE PRIORITIES STRAIGHT. NOW, YESTERDAY IT WAS INTERESTING TO ME TO HEAR THAT WARRENWARREN BUFFETT PURCHASED -- BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY PURCHASED BURLINGTON NORTHERN RAILROAD. AND HE SAID THAT HE'S BETTING ON AMERICA. I KNOW WARREN BUFFETT. I'VE KNOWN HIM FOR YEARS. I LIKE HIM. GOOD GUY. ONE OF THE SMARTEST INVESTORS PERHAPS IN THE HISTORY OF OUR COUNTRY. HE'S BETTING ON AMERICA. THAT'S PROBABLY A PRETTY GOOD BET. I DON'T KNOW THE DETAILS OF THE PURCHASE OF THIS RAILROAD COMPANY. BUT IT'S PROBABLY A PRETTY GOOD BET. WE HAD WARREN BUFFETT SPEAK TO OUR CAUCUS AN SOMEBODY ASKED THE QUESTION: WHAT DO YOU THINK THE ECONOMY WILL BE LIKE IN SIX MONTHS? AND WARREN BUFFETT SAID, I DON'T HAVE THE FOGGIEST IDEA. HE SAID I DON'T KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN 16 MONTHS FROM NOW. I'LL TELL YOU THIS, I KNOW WHAT THE ECONOMY'S GOING TO BE LIKE SIX YEARS FROM NOW. IT'S GOING TO BE GREAT. HE SAID AMERICA ALWAYS PULLS ITSELF UP. LOOK AT CREATIVENESS, THE INVENTIVENESS, THE AMBITION OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. IT IS INNATE IN THE SOUL OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND ITS CULTURE TO JUST KEEP MOVING FORWARD. HE SAID THIS COUNTRY'S GOING TO DO FINE. I DON'T KNOW WHETHER IT'S GOING TO BE SEVEN OR 10 OR 15 MONTHS OR FIVE YEARS, BUT THIS COUNTRY -- HE SAID, I BELIEVE THAT THIS COUNTRY'S GOING TO DO WELL. SO I KIND OF SMILED YESTERDAY WHEN I SAW THAT HE PURCHASED A RAILROAD AND SAID, I'M BETTING ON AMERICA. I THINK THIS CONGRESS SHOULD BET ON AMERICA TOO. AMERICA NEEDS SOME HELP FROM THIS CONGRESS. AMERICA NEEDS A LOT OF HELP TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUES I JUST DESCRIBED. AND I BELIEVE WE CAN DO THAT, BUT IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN UNLESS WE HAVE SOME COOPERATION HERE. WE'VE GOTTEN COOPERATION ON NOTHING. FOR INTEREST'S SAKE, WE ARE NOW IN THIS LENGTHY PERIOD AND WE'VE HAD TO BURN 30 HOURS POSTCLOTURE AND TWO DAYS RIPENING -- ON EVERYTHING, EVEN NONCONTROVERSIAL THINGS BECAUSE THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO DON'T WANT THIS INSTITUTION TO WORK. IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE TO ME. THERE OUGHT NOT BE TWO TEAMS HERE. WE ALL OUGHT TO BE PULLING FOR THE SAME TEAM. MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR. AND I MAKE A POINT OF ORDER THAT A QUORUM IS NOT PRESENT.

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  • 05:17:42 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 05:18:07 PM

    Quorum Call

  • 05:25:55 PM

    MR. DURBIN

    MR. PRESIDENT?

  • 05:25:56 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM ILLINOIS.

  • 05:25:59 PM

    MR. DURBIN

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 05:26:02 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 05:26:04 PM

    MR. DURBIN

    UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT AFTER ADOPTION OF THE UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST ALL…

    UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT AFTER ADOPTION OF THE UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST ALL POSTCLOTURE TIME BE YIELDED BACK AND THE BILL AS AMENDED BE READ A THIRD TIME THAT NO POINTS OF ORDER BE IN ORDER AND THE SENATE PROCEED TO VOTE ON PASSAGE OF H.R. 3548, THAT UPON PASSAGE THE SENATE PROCEED TO EXECUTIVE SESSION TO CONSIDER CALENDAR NUMBER 331, THE NOMINATION OF TARA JEAN O TOOL AND ONCE THE FOM NATION IS REPORTED, THE SENATE PROCEED TO VOTE ON NOMINATION OF THE CONFIRMS WITH ANY STATEMENTS RELATED TO THE NOMINATION APPEARING IN THE APPROPRIATE PLACE IN THE RECORD AS IF READ. UPON CONFIRMATION, THAT THE MOTION TO RECONSIDER BE MADE THAT THE SENATE BE NOTIFIED OF THE SENATE'S ACTION AND THE SENATE RESUME ITS LEGISLATIVE SESSION. ON NOVEMBER 5 THE SENATE PROCEED TO THE MOTION TO CONSIDER THE MOTION TO PROCEED BY THE COMMITTEE REPORTED SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT TO H.R. 2847, THE COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE APPROPRIATION ACT THAT THE MOTION TO PROCEED BE AGREED TO, THE MOTION TO RECONSIDER BE AGREED TO, PRIOR TO THE VOTE ON THE MOTION TO INVOKE CLOTURE ON THE SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT THERE BE 40 MINUTES OF DEBATE EQUALLY DIVIDE AND CONTROLLED AS FOLLOWS. 20 MINUTES UNDER THE CONTROL OF SENATOR VITTER, 20 MINUTES TOTAL FOR SENATORS MIKULSKI AND SHELBY. THAT THE SENATE PROCEED TO VOTE ON THE MOTION TO INVOKE CLOTURE ON THE SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT. FURTHER, THAT UPON DISPOSITION OF H.R. 2847, THE SENATE THEN PROCEED TO THE CONSIDERATION OF CALENDAR NUMBER 106, H.R. 3082, THE MILITARY CONSTRUCTION VETERANS' AFFAIRS APPROPRIATION ACT. THAT IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE BILL IS REPORTED, SENATOR JOHNSON OR HIS DESIGNEE BE RECOGNIZED TO CALL UP THE SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT WHICH IS THE TEXT OF S. 1407, THE SENATE COMOILT REPORTED BILL. I WOULD TELL YOU FURTHER, MR. PRESIDENT, THAT THE UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST THAT I JUST MADE HAS BEEN CLEARED

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  • 05:28:04 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    IS THERE OBJECTION? WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT IS SO ORDERED. THE CLERK WILL…

    IS THERE OBJECTION? WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT IS SO ORDERED. THE CLERK WILL READ THE BILL FOR THE THIRD TIME.

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  • 05:28:16 PM

    THE CLERK

    H.R. 3548, AN ACT TO AMEND THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT 2008 TO…

    H.R. 3548, AN ACT TO AMEND THE SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT 2008 TO PROVIDE FOR THE TEMPORARY AVAILABLITY OF CERTAIN ADDITIONAL EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

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  • 05:28:29 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE QUESTION IS ON THE BILL AS AMENDED. IS THERE A SUFFICIENT SECOND?…

    THE QUESTION IS ON THE BILL AS AMENDED. IS THERE A SUFFICIENT SECOND? THERE APPEARS TO BE. THERE IS. THE YEAS AND NAYS ARE ORDER. THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. VOTE: VOTE:

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  • 05:28:53 PM

    Senate Vote 334 - On Passage of the Bill (HR 3548 as amended)

    Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009

    Bill Passed (98 - 0)
    Yea

    Vote Details: Yea - 98
    Republican - 40
    Democratic - 56
    Independent - 2

  • 05:52:49 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: ANY SENATORS WISHING TO VOTE OR TO CHANGE THEIR VOTE? IF NOT, THE…

    OFFICER: ANY SENATORS WISHING TO VOTE OR TO CHANGE THEIR VOTE? IF NOT, THE AYES ARE 94, THE NAYS -- 98, THE NAYS ARE 0. THE BILL AS AMENDED IS PASSED.

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  • 05:53:11 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO EXECUTIVE…

    OFFICER: UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO EXECUTIVE SESSION TO CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING NOMINATION, WHICH THE CLERK WILL REPORT. THE SENATE BE IN ORDER. WITHOUT OBJECTION, SO ORDERED.

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  • 05:53:36 PM

    THE CLERK

    NOMINATION, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. TARA JEANNE E O'TOOLE OF MARE…

    NOMINATION, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY. TARA JEANNE E O'TOOLE OF MARE MARRY TO BE UNDER SECRETARY -- OF MARYLAND TO BE UNDER SECRETARY FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY.

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  • 05:53:50 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: IF THERE'S NO FURTHER DEBATE ON THE NOMINEE, ALL THOSE IN FAVOR…

    OFFICER: IF THERE'S NO FURTHER DEBATE ON THE NOMINEE, ALL THOSE IN FAVOR SAY AYE. THOSE OPPOSED SAY NO. THE AYES APPEAR TO HAVE IT. THE AYES DO HAVE IT. THE NOMINATION IS CONFIRMED. UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER, THE MOTION TO RECONSIDER IS CONSIDERED TO BE LAID UPON THE TABLE, THE PRESIDENT WILL BE IMMEDIATELY NOTIFIED OF THE SENATE'S ACTION, AND THE SENATE WILL RESUME LEGISLATIVE SESSION.

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  • 05:54:43 PM

    MR. WHITEHOUSE

    MR. PRESIDENT? I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

  • 05:54:46 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL:

  • 05:56:33 PM

    MR. WHITEHOUSE

  • 05:56:34 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM RHODE ISLAND.

  • 05:56:36 PM

    MR. WHITEHOUSE

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. MAY I ASK THAT THE PENDING QUORUM CALL BE…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. MAY I ASK THAT THE PENDING QUORUM CALL BE SUSPENDED.

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  • 05:56:39 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT IS SO ORDERED.

  • 05:56:43 PM

    MR. WHITEHOUSE

    YOU. MR. PRESIDENT, MAY I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE NEXT HOUR BE…

    YOU. MR. PRESIDENT, MAY I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE NEXT HOUR BE CONTROLLED BY THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE, THAT COLLOQUIES BE ALLOWED AMONG THE SPEAKERS AND THAT THE SPEAKERS BE RECOGNIZED, FIRST THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY, SENATOR LAUTENBERG, AND THEN THE SENATOR FROM OREGON, SENATOR MERKLEY, AND THEN AS RECOGNITION MAY BE SOUGHT ON THE DEMOCRATIC SIDE AFTER THAT. AND CONSENT THAT THE SENATE BE IN A PERIOD OF MORNING BUSINESS THROUGH THAT TIME.

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  • 05:57:22 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

  • 05:57:30 PM

    MR. WHITEHOUSE:MR. WHITEHOUSE

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT IS SO ORDERED.

  • 05:57:38 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THANK YOU.

  • 05:57:43 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 05:57:47 PM

    MR. LAUTENBERG

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I THANK MY COLLEAGUES FOR GIVING ME AN…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I THANK MY COLLEAGUES FOR GIVING ME AN OPPORTUNITY TO TALK FOR A FEW MINUTES ABOUT HEALTH CARE. AND TRYING TO UNDERSTAND WHERE IT IS THAT BRINGS US TO THIS POINT WITH A -- A SHRED OF RAGE AND TRYING TO MAINTAIN THE DIGNITY OF OUR SOCIETY. WE'RE ON THE VERGE OF FIXING OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM ONCE AND FOR ALL, BUT THERE IS ONE MAJOR OBSTACLE IN OUR WAY. AND THE OBSTACLE I TALK ABOUT IS THE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES, THEIR LOBBYISTS, C.E.O.'S AND THEIR FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE. WE CAN CALL THIS GROUP THE STATUS QUO CAUCUS. THEY'RE SPENDING UNLIMITED FUNDS ON TV COMMERCIALS AND BOGUS STUDIES TO I WILL KILL HEALTH REFORM. THAT'S THEIR MISSION, MR. PRESIDENT. THINK ABOUT IT. THEY DEFINE THEIR GOAL, THEIR OBJECTIVE AS ARTICULATED BY OUR COLLEAGUE FROM SOUTH CAROLINA AS SAYING THAT IF WE CAN STOP THIS HEALTH CARE REFORM FROM CONTINUING, IT CAN BE THE END OF THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY, THAT IT CAN BE HIS WATERLOO. WHAT KIND OF AN OBJECTIVE IS THAT, THAT WE PUT POLITICS AT THE TOP END OF THE THING AS WE IGNORE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, OVER 40 MILLION PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAVE ANY INSURANCE AND MANY OF THE OTHERS WHO DO HAVE INSURANCE DON'T HAVE A COMPLETE PICTURE ABOUT WHAT THEIR POLICIES PERMIT OR WHAT THEY MIGHT LOSE BY WAY OF RESTRICTIONS. SO THIS IS AN OUTRAGE. AND THE PUBLIC IS MANIFESTING THEIR CONCERN. THEY'RE NOT SURE ABOUT WHAT THEY HEAR, THE DEROGATORY MATERIAL THAT THEY SEE, DON'T DO THIS AND DON'T DO THAT AND NO PUBLIC OPTION AND -- AND LET US TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK. I DON'T KNOW WHO THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT. WHOSE COUNTRY? IT'S OUR COUNTRY. IT'S EVERYBODY'S COUNTRY. THERE IS NO MONOPOLY FOR PARTICIPATION IN AMERICAN SOCIETY. AND WE HEAR THE WORST KINDS OF ASSERTIONS ABOUT WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO, WHETHER TURNING THIS COUNTRY INTO A SOCIALIST COUNTRY OR -- WHAT'S HAPPENED IS ALMOST HUMOROUS, IF IT WASN'T SO TRAGIC. AND THAT IS, FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE ON MEDICARE TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT GOVERNMENT INTERFERING WITH THEIR LIVES. THE WHOLE PROGRAM IN MEDICARE IS A GOVERNMENT PROGRAM, ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL EVER PUT INTO THE STRUCTURE OF OUR COUNTRY. AND WHILE THIS GROUP OF OBSTRUCTIONISTS ARE ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS, DON'T LET IT HAPPEN IS THEIR MISSION -- I JUST TOLD YOU HOW IT'S DEMONSTRATED IN THE WORDS OF THE SENATOR FROM SOUTH CAROLINA. THEY'RE SPENDING MILLIONS ON TV COMMERCIALS AND BOGUS STUDIES TO KILL HEALTH CARE REFORM. QUENCHING THEIR THIRST FOR PROFITS HAS LED TO SOME OF THE WORST PREDATORY PRACTICES IMAGINABLE. THIS IS AN INDUSTRY THAT WILL KNOWINGLY STRIP CHILDREN OF THEIR HEALTH CARE COVERAGE WHEN A PARENT LOSES A JOB. THIS IS AN INDUSTRY THAT DEMEANS WOMEN BY TREATING PREGNANCY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AS PREENS PREEXISTING CONDITIONS? ANYTHING TO ESCAPE THEIR OBLIGATIONS UNDER THEIR INSURANCE POLICIES, FOR WHICH THEY CHARGE A LOT OF MONEY. THIS IS AN INDUSTRY THAT SQUEEZES SMALL BUSINESSES BY CHARGING THEM 18% MORE THAN THEY DO LARGE FIRMS FOR THE SAME HEALTH INSURANCE POLICY. THE HEALTH INDUSTRY'S INDUSTRY'S PRIORITY IS NOT PATIENTS; IT'S PROFITS. IN THE RICHEST NATION IN THE WORLD, DECENT HEALTH CARE SHOULD BE A BASIC TENET OF LIFE FOR EVERYONE -- EVERYONE -- IN OUR SOCIETY. THAT'S NOT THE WAY IT'S GOING, AND THAT'S NOT THE WAY THE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES LOOK AT IT. THEIR SINGLE-MINDED DRIVE FOR PROFITS IS AT THE EXPENSE OF THEIR POLICYHOLDERS -- POLICYHOLDERS WHO DEPEND ON THEM FOR CARE WHEN THEY'RE SICK OR INJURED AND WHEN THEY NEED MEDICAL OR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCE. WE HAVE A CHART HERE THAT DEMONSTRATES THE MASSIVE PROFIT INCREASES THAT SOME OF OUR LARGEST HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES FROM THE YEARS 2000 TO 2008. AND WE SEE THEM HERE. PROFIT INCREASES AT THE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES. THIS IS 2000 AND THIS IS 2008. HOW CAN WE FORGET 2008, WHEN OUR COUNTRY WAS COMING APART AT THE SEAMS, DEEP IN RECESSION, AND TERRIBLE THINGS IN FRONT OF US, EXPECTATIONS, PEOPLE LOSING THEIR JOBS, LOSING THEIR HOMES BY THE MILLIONS. 2008 WAS THAT KIND OF A YEAR. IT WAS A DISASTER YEAR, EXCEPT FOR THE GUYS WHO WERE IN THE HEALTH INSURANCE BUSINESS. IN 2000, WELLPOINT, ONE OF THE BEST-KNOWN COMPANIES, THEIR PROFITS WERE $226 MILLION. SIX YEARS LATER -- EIGHT YEARS LATER, THEIR PROFITS WERE $2.5 BILLION. MR. PRESIDENT, NOTE THIS: $226 MILLION; $2.5 BILLION, FOR A 1,000% INCREASE. AETNA, $127 MILLION IN 2000. IN 2008, $1. 4 BILLION. THINK ABOUT IT. $127 MILLION TO $1.4 BILLION, FOR A 990% INCREASE. HUMANA -- IN 2000 THEY HAD A $$90MILLION PROFIT YEEMPLET BUT BY 2008, THEY WERE UP TO $647 MILLION, A 619% INCREASE. UNITED HEALTH, THEY HAD $736 MILLION WORTH OF PROFIT -- WORTH OF PROFIT. IN THE YEAR 2000. AND IN 2008, THESE GUYS MADE $3 BILLION FOR A 304% INCREASE. $736 MILLION COMPARED TO $3 BILLION, OR A 300% INCREASE. I CAN TELL YOU THIS: THAT WORKING PEOPLE WERE NOT LOOKING AT THESE KINDS OF INCREASE PERCENTAGES IN THEIR INCOMES. AS A MATTER OF FACT, THEIR PURCHASING POWER DECLINED, EVEN THOUGH SALARIES MAY HAVE STAYED THE SAME OR HAVE BEEN INCREASED AT SOME FACTOR, PURCHASING POWER DECREASED. HUMANA AND ALL OF THEM ACHIEVED THESE PROFITS, LARGELY BY CHEATING TAXPAYERS, BY TAKING FUNDS THAT WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SUBSIDIES FOR LOWER RATES FOR THEIR POLICYHOLDERS BUT, IN FACT, THEY WENT INTO THE PROFIT, INTO THE COMPANY'S PROFITS. JUST LIKE THE INDUSTRY PROFITS HAVE RISEN, SO HAS C.E.O. COMPENSATION. OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS, COMPENSATION FOR HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY C.E.O.'S HAS GROWN STEADILY WHILE WORKERS' PAY HAS BARELY MOVED. THE AVERAGE COMPENSATION PACKAGE FOR EACH OF THE TOP-FIVE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANY EXECUTIVES BETWEEN 2006 AND 2008 WAS ALMOST $15 MILLION A YEAR. YOU KNOW, MR. PRESIDENT, I RAN A FAIRLY LARGE COMPANY BEFORE CAME TO THE SENATE. AND I THINK THAT EARNING A PROFIT IS GOOD. I THINK IT'S APPROPRIATE. KEEP YOUR BOOKS HONESTLY. BE TRANSPARENT, TELL THE COMPANY -- TELL THE COUNTRY EXACTLY WHAT YOUR PROFIT WAS -- HOW IT WAS EARNED, WHAT JURY EXPENSES WERE, WHAT YOUR -- WHAT YOUR EXPENSES WERE, WHAT YOUR REVENUES WERE. THE COMPANY I RAN WAS A COMPANY NAMED A.D.P., I START IT WITH TWO OTHER FELLOWS. THEY, LIKE I, CAME FROM POOR, WOG-CLASS FAMILIES, WORKED IN THE MILLS IN PATTERSON, NEW JERSEY. WE WORKED VERY HARD. THAT COMPANY TODAY HAS 46,000 EMPLOYEES IN 26 COUNTRIES ACROSS THE WORLD. WE STARTED IN PATTERSON, NEW JERSEY IN A DUMPY HOTEL BUILDING WHERE WE COULD RENT SPACE. SO I KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT BALANCE SHEETS, FINANCIAL STATEMENTS, PROFITABILITY, AND I THINK THAT PROFITABILITY IS A GOOD THING. BUT IT'S ONE THING IF YOU'RE MANUFACTURING LAWN MOWERS. IT'S ANOTHER THING IF YOU'RE PROVIDING HEALTH CARE. AND THE SQUEEZE ON THE PROFIT SIDE COMES OUT OF PEOPLE'S LIVES, COMES OUT -- CREATES SUFFERING FOR PEOPLE OUT OF FEAR AND OUT OF LOSS OF COVERAGE. WHEN THE AVERAGE SALARY FOR THESE INSURANCE COMPANY EXECUTIVES WAS ALMOST $15 MILLION EACH YEAR, EACH C.E.O., WHILE A YEAR'S PAY FOR THE AVERAGE WORKER DURING THAT SAME TIME WAS ABOUT $44,000. IMAGINE, THESE PEOPLE ARE WORKING IN THE SHOPS, MOVING THINGS ALONG, DURING THE CLERICAL WORK, DOING WHAT THEY HAVE TO DO AND THE TOP GUY IS EARNING $15 MILLION A YEAR WHILE THE AVERAGE PERSON WORKING THERE WAS EARNING $HAD $44,000. $44,000 TODAY DOESN'T CARRY A FAMILY VERY FAR. A SINGLE HEALTH INSURANCE C.E.O. EARNS APPROXIMATELY A335 TIMES THE -- EARNS APPROXIMATELY 335 TIMES THE AVERAGE WORKERS. IT IS SCANDALOUS. IT DOESN'T END THERE. AT THE SAME TIME, THE HEALTH INSURERS AND C.E.O.'S HAVE MADE OUT LIKE BANDITS, THE INDUSTRY HAS INCREASED ITS PREMIUMS RELENTLESSLY. ACCORDING TO A NEW REPORT FROM THE KAISER FAMILY FOUNDATION, INSURANCE PREMIUMS FOR FAMILIES MORE THAN DOUBLED SINCE 1999, MORE THAN DOUBLED. TEN YEARS AGO PREMIUMS AVERAGED LESS THAN $6,000 A YEAR. TODAY THEY'VE GROWN TO AN AVERAGE OF MORE THAN $13,000 A YEAR. THE HIGHEST AMOUNT ON RECORD. THESE ARE PEOPLE -- MIDDLE-CLASS PEOPLE, SOME VERY MODEST INCOMES TRYING TO GET ALONG AND WATCH THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE -- AND I'VE HAD PEOPLE WALK UP TO ME, PEOPLE I SEE IN POSITIONS OF LABOR, AND SAYING, MR. SENATOR, PLEASE, MY RENT IS GOING UP, MY TAXES FOR REAL ESTATE ARE GOING UP. I CAN'T AFFORD MORE. MY HEALTH CARE IS THE ONE THING THAT WORRIES US SO MUCH. I CAN'T AFFORD TO PAY THE PREMIUM, MR. SENATOR. PLEASE HELP US. AS THE FOLLOWING CHART SHOWS, OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS, INSURANCE PREMIUMS HAVE GONE UP THREE TIMES FASTER THAN WAGE INCREASES, A PERIOD OF TEN YEARS. SO WE SEE WHAT'S HAPPENING TO FAMILIES' ABILITY TO AFFORD TO COVER THEIR C.E.O.'S CARED AS MUCH ABOUT THE PUBLIC HEALTH AS THEIR FINANCIAL WEALTH, OUR SYSTEM WOULDN'T LOOK THIS WAY. WHAT HAPPENS IS WE'RE TRADING THE WELL-BEING OF THE NEEDY FOR UNCONSCIONABLE GAINS BY THE GREEDY. IT'S SO FUNNY, WE -- THE TIME WE LIVE IN. I UNDERSTAND THAT THERE WAS A -- I READ THAT THERE WAS A BOAT SHOW THAT JUST TOOK PLACE IN MIAMI, FLORIDA. AND THE MOST ACTIVE PART OF THE SALES OF BOATS WAS BOATS THAT ARE 100 FEET OR LONGER. WE'RE TALKING ABOUT MILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR THESE BOATS AND I DON'T BEGRUDGE THOSE PEOPLE. I DON'T, REALLY. BUT LOOK AT BASIC AMERICA AND SEE WHAT IT IS THAT KEEPS OUR COUNTRY GOING LIKE IT IS. THE HEALTH CARE FIELD IS ONE OF THE GREAT ABOMINATIONS. WE HAVE TO END THIS POISONOUS PRESCRIPTION FOR MANAGEMENT OF HEALTH CARE COMPANIES AND CHANGE THE TWHAI THESE HEALTH INSURANCE -- AND CHANGE THE WAY THAT THESE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES OPERATE. THERE IS ONE WAY TO DO IT. THAT IS TO MAKE SURE THAT THERE'S COMPETITION WITHIN THE INDUSTRY THAT'S SERIOUS. THE LEGISLATION THAT WE'RE PUTTING FORWARD WILL RESHAPE HEALTH INSURANCE AND END THE INDUSTRY'S CHOKEHOLD ON ORDINARY AMERICANS. IT'LL BE AGAINST THE LAW IN OUR PROPOSAL FOR HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST WOMEN. IT WILL BE AGAINST THE LAW FOR THEM TO DENY COVERAGE BALLS OF A PREEXISTING CONDITION. IT WILL BE AGAINST THE LAW FOR THEM TO END INSURANCE COVERAGE JUST BECAUSE POLICYHOLDERS BECOME SICK. THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO TAKE CARE. ON TOP OF THAT WE'RE GOING TO STOP INSURANCE COMPANIES FROM CHARGING IMMENSE AMOUNTS OF OUT-OF-POCKET EXPENSES. AND SO WE WILL MAKE IT SO THAT INSURANCE PROVIDERS HAVE TO COVER ROUTINE CHECKUPS AND PREVENTIVE CARE. AND NOW LIFESAVING MAMMOGRAMS WILL NO LONGER BE OUT OF REACH FOR MILLIONS OF WOMEN. I KNOW A WORLD RENOWNED RESEARCH CLINICIANS IN NEW YORK THAT SAYS THAT MAMMOGRAMS ARE THE GOLD STANDARD FOR DEALING WITH ANTICIPATION OF BREAST CANCER. AND THESE CHANGES WILL MAKE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES MORE HONEST, MORE TRANSPARENT, AND MORE ACCOUNTABLE, AND THEY'LL STILL MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO TAKE CARE OF THE WAGES AND THE PROFITS THAT THEY SEEK. THEY MAY NOT BE AS GREAT AS THEY ARE, BUT THEY SHOULDN'T BE AS GREAT AS THEY ARE. BUT OUR REPUBLICAN COLLEAGUES ARE CHASING A DIFFERENT GOAL. THEY'RE LOOKING FOR POLITICAL VICTORIES, POLITICAL VICTORIES ON THE BACKS OF THE WORKING PEOPLE OF OUR COUNTRY. THEY'RE FIXATED ON STOPPING THE CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT -- AND PRESIDENT OBAMA NO MATTER WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES ARE FOR OUR COUNTRY AND FOR THE PEOPLE WHO WORK HARD TO KEEP THEIR FAMILIES TOGETHER. BUT I WANT TO REMIND THESE OBSTRUCTIONISTS THAT HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES HAVE SHOWN THEIR UTTER DISREGARD FOR THE WELL-BEING OF ALL AMERICANS FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE. THEY DON'T CARE IF THE POLICYHOLDER IS A DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN OR AN INDEPENDENT, AND I REMIND ANYBODY WHO HEARS WHAT WE'RE SAYING OR LOOKS AT WHAT WE'RE DOING, FIXING HEALTH CARE IS NOT A CHOICE; IT IS A NECESSITY. I KNOW IT ON A PERSONAL BASIS, BUT I'M FORTUNATE. THOUGH I HAVE A GRANDSON WHO'S 16 YEARS OLD, HE'S GOT ASTHMA, WHEN MY DAUGHTER TAKES HIM TO PLAY SPORTS -- HE'S A GOOD ATHLETE -- SHE FIRST CHECKS TO SEE WHERE THE NEAREST EMERGENCY CLINIC IS IN CASE HE STARTS TO WHEEZE. I HAVE A GRANDDAUGHTER, 11 YEARS OLD. SHE'S GOT DIABETES. AND WHEN SHE WAS HERE IN WASHINGTON ON A VISIT, I LOOKED AT HER AND I DIDN'T LIKE THE WAY SHE LOOKED AND I SAID TO MY DAUGHTER -- THEY LIVE IN FLORIDA -- I SAID, YOU HAVE TO FIND OUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH MADDIE. THERE'S SOMETHING THERE. IT WORRIED ME. SHE WAS PALE. SHE DIDN'T HAVE ANY ENERGY. AND SHE LOOKED TERRIFICALLY -- TERRIBLY SLIM. AND WHEN I WENT DOWN TO FLORIDA THREE DAYS LATER AFTER THEY LEFT WASHINGTON, I WENT TO THE HOSPITAL WHERE SHE WAS -- HAD ENTERED, AND I SAW HER. SHE LOOKED LIKE A NEW PERSON, BECAUSE SHE -- THE DIABETES WAS TREATED AND SHE HAD INSULIN, AND SHE LOOKED LIKE A NEW PERSON. THOSE THINGS MEAN SO MUCH. THERE IS NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT TO ANY OF US. AND I SAY THIS ABOUT MY REPUBLICAN FRIENDS AS WELL. NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR CHILDREN, OUR GRANDCHILDREN. THAT'S WHAT WE ALL LIVE FOR, AND THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO LIVE FOR US AND BE HEALTHY FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR CHILDREN. OUR GRANDCHILDREN. EVERY AMERICAN, WE'VE GOT TO MEET OUR OBLIGATIONS. AND I PLEAD WITH MY FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE, GET OUT OF THE WAY. DON'T STAND THERE UNLESS YOU'RE WILLING TO COME IN HERE AND SAY I DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE. I DON'T CARE WHETHER A CHILD HAS HEALTH INSURANCE OR NOT. SAY IT OUT LOUD INSTEAD OF GOING BEHIND THE WALLS AND HIDING THE TRUTH ABOUT WHAT THEIR MISSION IS. IT'S MY HOPE THAT HISTORY WILL RECORD A MOMENT OF SUCCESS, SUCCESS FOR THE PEOPLE OF OUR COUNTRY. WE'VE NEVER QUITE BEEN THIS CLOSE TO ACHIEVING FUNDAMENTAL HEALTH CARE REFORM. WE MAY NEVER HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY AGAIN. WHAT'S -- ONCE MORE, STEP FORWARD, COLLEAGUES, UNITED STATES SENATORS SENT HERE BY PEOPLE WHO TRUST YOU AND HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOU. TAKE CARE OF THEM. TELL THEM BE HONEST WITH YOU. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO GIVE THEM HEALTH CARE INSURANCE, SAY SO. SAY I DON'T WANT TO GIVE YOU HEALTH CARE INSURANCE. I DON'T WANT TO LET YOUR CONDITIONS DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT WE COVER THEM. WE WANT TO DECIDE. MR. PRESIDENT, THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY THAT WE HAVE TO SEIZE. THANK YOU, AND I YIELD THE FLOOR.

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  • 06:17:49 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: THE SENATOR FROM OREGON.

  • 06:17:52 PM

    MR. LEVIN

    WOULD THE SENATOR YIELD FOR A UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST. MR. PRESIDENT, I…

    WOULD THE SENATOR YIELD FOR A UNANIMOUS CONSENT REQUEST. MR. PRESIDENT, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT AFTER THE SENATOR FROM OREGON IS RECOGNIZED, THEN THE SENATOR FROM MICHIGAN IS RECOGNIZED, UNDER THE EXISTING UNANIMOUS CONSENT AGREEMENT THAT I THEN BE RECOGNIZED.

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  • 06:18:06 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 06:18:09 PM

    MR. LEVIN

    THANK YOU. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT, I THANK THE SENIOR SENATOR FROM NEW…

    THANK YOU. A SENATOR: MR. PRESIDENT, I THANK THE SENIOR SENATOR FROM NEW JERSEY FOR HIS REMARKS.

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  • 06:18:17 PM

    MR. MERKLEY

  • 06:26:05 PM

    MS. STABENOW

  • 06:26:07 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM MICHIGAN.

  • 06:26:08 PM

    MS. STABENOW

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. FIRST I WANT TO THANK MY FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE…

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. FIRST I WANT TO THANK MY FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE FROM OREGON, SENATOR MERKLEY, FOR THOSE WONDERFUL COMMENTS AND HIS PASSION AND COMMITMENT ON THIS ISSUE. ALSO, SENATOR LAUTENBERG FROM NEW JERSEY, AND MY FRIEND AND PARTNER IN MICHIGAN, SENATOR LEVIN, WHO WILL BE SPEAKING. AND THE GREAT SENATOR FROM RHODE ISLAND WHO'S BEEN A WONDERFUL LEADER ON THIS ISSUE AND SO MANY OTHER ISSUES AS WELL. WE ALL COME TODAY BECAUSE WE ARE COMMITTED. WE ARE ABSOLUTELY COMMITTED TO SEEING REFORMS IN OUR INSURANCE SYSTEM SO THAT FAMILIES GET WHAT THEY'RE PAYING FOR. AND WE CAN BRING COSTS DOWN AND WE CAN SAVE LIVES. WE ARE HERE BECAUSE WE WANT TO SHARE THE VOICES AND STORIES FROM PEOPLE IN OUR STATES WHO HAVE PAID INTO A SYSTEM AND TOO OFTEN NOT GOTTEN WHAT THEY'VE PAID FOR. NOT BEEN ABLE TO BENEFIT FROM THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM THAT WE HAVE IN THIS COUNTRY. SO IT'S IMPORTANT THAT INSURANCE INDUSTRY REFORMS BE A PART OF HEALTH CARE REFORM. WE KNOW WE'RE STILL IN THE PROCESS OF BRINGING A BILL TO THE FLOOR, AND WE AT THIS POINT ARE TALKING ABOUT OUR GOALS AND OUR COMMITMENT OF THE COMMON SHARED VALUES AND GOALS THAT WE HAVE GOING FORWARD BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS IS ADDRESSED. MR. PRESIDENT, WHEN WE STARTED THIS DEBATE EARLIER THIS YEAR, I SET UP AN ONLINE HEALTH CARE PEOPLE'S LOBBY FOR THE PEOPLE OF MICHIGAN TO BE ABLE TO SHARE WITH ME THEIR THOUGHTS, CONCERNS AND STORIES AS IT RELATES TO HAVING HEALTH CARE, NOT HAVING HEALTH INSURANCE, WHAT'S HAPPENING FOR THEIR FAMILY. MY SENSE WAS THAT WE CAN STEP OUTSIDE THIS CHAMBER AND MEET AT ANY MOMENT WITH INSURANCE COMPANY LOBBYISTS AND PRESCRIPTION DRUG LOBBYISTS AND OTHERS WHO ARE HERE REPRESENTING SPECIAL INTERESTS. IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT VOICES ARE HEARD OF PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT HEALTH CARE FOR THEIR FAMILY AND EITHER CAN'T FIND IT, CAN'T AFFORD IT, OR THEY HAVE IT AND THE COSTS ARE GOING THROUGH THE ROOF, AND THEN THEY FIND THAT WHAT THEY'VE PAID FOR OR WHAT THEY THOUGHT THEY WERE PAYING FOR IS NOT WHAT THEY'RE ACTUALLY GETTING FOR THEIR FAMILY. AND THAT'S SPECIFICALLY WHAT WE WANT TO TALK ABOUT TODAY. THE FACT THAT THERE ARE ABUSES, BAD PRACTICES OCCUR RIGHT NOW. AND PEOPLE WHO HAVE INSURANCE HAVE A STAKE IN HEALTH CARE REFORM. WE'RE NOT CHANGING THEIR ABILITY TO HAVE INSURANCE. EVERYONE CAN KEEP WHAT THEY HAVE. BUT WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THEY'RE GETTING WHAT THEY'RE PAYING FOR, AND THAT'S WHAT A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF HEALTH CARE REFORM IS ALL ABOUT. AND IT'S IMPORTANT AS WE LOOK AT THE FACT THAT SINCE 2000, INSURANCE COMPANY PROFITS HAVE GONE UP 428%, MR. PRESIDENT. 428%. PEOPLE IN MY STATE WOULD TAKE A QUARTER OF THAT. WE ARE SEEING INSURANCE PREMIUMS DURING THAT SAME PERIOD GO UP 120%. SO, EVEN THOUGH PROFITS HAVE GONE UP 428%, WE'RE STILL SEEING PREMIUMS GOING UP 120%, AND NOW EVEN HIGHER WE'RE SEEING MORE AND MORE ANNOUNCEMENTS OF PREMIUMS GOING UP DESPITE THE HIGH PROFITS IN THE INDUSTRY. AND WHAT'S MOST CONCERNING IS THAT FOR AVERAGE PEOPLE, WAGES ARE EITHER GOING DOWN -- THEY'RE LOSING THEIR JOB -- OR IF THEY HAVE A JOB, THEIR WAGES CERTAINLY ARE GOING UP MUCH MORE SLOWLY. IN FACT, OVER THE EIGHT-YEAR PERIOD WE'VE SEEN WAGES GOING UP ABOUT 29% AT PWEF, IF YOU'RE -- AT BEST, IF YOU'RE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE A JOB IN THIS BAD ECONOMY. THAT MEANS THAT EVERY DAY INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE TAKING A BIGGER CHUNK OUT OF BUDGETS OF OUR FAMILIES AND BUSINESSES. AND IT'S NOT FAIR. THE STATUS QUO ISN'T WORKING ANYMORE FOR ANYBODY OTHER THAN THOSE WHO ARE MAKING PROFITS OFF THE SYSTEM. IT'S HURTING FAMILIES, IT'S HURTING BUSINESSES AND IT'S COSTING US JOBS. AND, IN FACT, HEALTH CARE REFORM IS ABOUT JOBS. IT'S ABOUT SAVING JOBS. IT'S ABOUT MAKING SURE IF YOU LOSE YOUR JOB YOU DON'T LOSE YOUR HEALTH CARE. IT'S ABOUT MAKING SURE THAT SMALL BUSINESSES WHO -- WHO WANT TO BE ABLE TO PROVIDE INSURANCE FOR EMPLOYEES CAN DO THAT OR NOT HAVE TO LAY OFF PEOPLE BECAUSE PREMIUMS ARE GOING UP. SO IT'S VERY MUCH ABOUT JOBS. AND THAT'S WHY WE NEED A HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL NOW. AND IT'S TIME TO PUT AN END TO THE INSURANCE COMPANY ABUSES. AND SO THE GOALS THAT WE SHARE, THE GOALS WE SHARE IN THIS PROCESS ARE TO STOP THE PROCESS OF DENYING COVERAGE BECAUSE OF PREEXISTING CONDITION. TO STOP THE ANNUAL OR LIFETIME CAPS ON BENEFITS. TO STOP THE PROCESS WHERE SOMEONE CAN GET CHARGED MORE OR DROPPED FOR COVERAGE IF THEY GET SICK. I'VE SEEN TOO MANY SITUATIONS WHERE SOMEBODY PAYS IN AND PAYS IN AND PAYS IN AN PACE THE HIGHER -- AND PACE THE HIGHER PREMIUMS -- PAYS THE HIGHER PREMIUMS AND THEN SOMEONE GETS SICK AND BASED ON A TECHNICALITY, THEY GET DROPPED. THAT'S WRONG AND WE'RE COMMITTED TO FIXING THAT. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT ON THE POSITIVE END THAT WE ARE FOCUSING ON PREVENTION AND FROM CHECKUPS AND MAKING SURE THAT YOU CAN DO THAT WITHOUT THE COST OF CO-PAYS AND DEDUCTIBLES. SO ENCOURAGING PEOPLE TO BE HEALTHY, TO GET THE EARLY CANCER CHECKUPS, TO GET THE CARE ON THE FRONT END THAT THEY NEED. IT'S ALSO EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT AS WE MOVE FORWARD, WE CRACK DOWN ON DISCRIMINATION BY INSURANCE COMPANIES. RIGHT NOW WOMEN CAN PAY MORE THAN TWICE AS MUCH FOR INSURANCE AS MEN AND, IN FACT, GET LESS COVERAGE. IN EIGHT STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, BEING A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CAN COUNT AS A PREEXISTING CONDITION. I WAS STUNNED WHEN I FIRST HEARD THAT AND THEN SAID, WELL, THAT CAN'T BE. AND WE DOUBLED BACK, AND, YES, THAT'S TRUE. PREVENTING WOMEN FROM GETTING THE INSURANCE CARE THEY NEED RIGHT WHEN THEY NEED IT. IN MANY PLACES BEING PREGNANT, HAVING EVER BEEN PREGNANT, EVEN WANTING TO BE PREGNANT CAN BE QUALIFIED AS A PREEXISTING CONDITION. WE HAD A REPORT IN "THE WASHINGTON POST" ABOUT AN INSURANCE COMPANY THAT EVEN DENIED COVERAGE TO MEN WHO WERE EXPECTEXPECTANT FATHERS. I'M NOT SURE WHAT KIND OF FAMILY VALUES THAT GOES UNDER, MR. PRESIDENT. BUT WE NEED INSURANCE REFORM THAT ADDRESSES SOME PRETTY BASIC THINGS. RIGHT NOW 60% OF THE PLANS IN THE INDIVIDUAL AND SMALL BUSINESS MARKET DON'T COVER VITAL MATERNITY AND PRENATAL CARE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN. THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE. -- THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE WITH HEALTH CARE REFORM. IT IS NOT AN ACCIDENT THAT WE HAVE AN INFANT MORTALITY RATE OF 29th IN THE WORLD BELOW SOME THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES. CHILDREN, BABIES THAT DON'T MAKE IT THROUGH THE FIRST YEAR OF LIFE WHEN WE LOOK AT THE FACT THAT TOO MANY INSURANCE PLANS DON'T COVER PRENATAL CARE AND CARE FOR MOM AND BABY DURING THE FIRST YEAR OF THE BABY'S LIFE. WE'RE COMMITTED TO CHANGING THAT. I'D LIKE TO SHARE A STORY I RECEIVED THAT GOES RIGHT TO THE HEART OF WHY INSURANCE REFORM IS SO IMPORTANT TO FAMILIES IN MICHIGAN AND ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY. IT COMES FROM A CONSTITUENT OF MINE IN MICHIGAN, LYNN, FROM MARSHALL, MICHIGAN. A FEW YEARS AGO SHE GOT THE KIND OF NEWS THAT EVERY PARENT FEARS. HER SON, JUSTIN, WAS DIAGNOSED WITH LEUKEMIA. TO DATE HIS MEDICAL BILLS HAVE TOTALED OVER $450,000. THANKFULLY THEY HAVE INSURANCE AND HIS LEUKEMIA HAS A VERY HIGH CURE RATE. JUSTIN IS 21 NOW AND A SENIOR IN COLLEGE. HE'S DOING FINE, THANKFULLY, BUT LYNN WORRIES ABOUT WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN HE GRADUATES FROM COLLEGE AND CAN NO LONGER STAY ON HER INSURANCE. AND WITH LEUKEMIA AS A PREEXISTING CONDITION, HIS INSURANCE PREMIUMS WILL GO THROUGH THE ROOF. AND FOR A YOUNG MAN JUST STARTING HIS CAREER, THOSE KINDS OF COSTS WOULD SIMPLY BE UNAFFORDABLE. IF JUSTIN WANTED TO START HIS OWN BUSINESS, WHICH IS SO CENTRAL TO THE AMERICAN DREAM, HE WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO AFFORD TO PAY FOR HIS OWN INSURANCE WITH THAT KIND OF PREEXISTING CONDITION. HOW MANY OTHER JUSTINS ARE OUT THERE WHO WOULD BE THE INNOVATORS AND THE ENTREPRENEURS THAT WE NEED TO REVITALIZE OUR ECONOMY IN AMERICA. WHO WOULD MAKE THE DIFFERENCE IF ONLY THEY COULD AFFORD TO GO OUT ON THEIR OWN AND START THEIR OWN COMPANY AND KNOW THAT THEY COULD GET AFFORDABLE INSURANCE WITHOUT PREEXISTING CONDITIONS. AND OTHER BARRIERS THAT HAVE BEEN IN THEIR WAY WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES. THAT'S WHY WE NEED HEALTH CARE REFORM. WE NEED HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM AS PART OF HEALTH CARE REFORM. WE ARE COMMITTED TO THAT. WE ARE COMMITTED TO STOP ABUSES IN THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY. THOSE WHO HAVE INSURANCE NOW WHO WILL BE ABLE TO KEEP THEIR INSURANCE, THEY NEED TO KNOW THAT THEY'RE GETTING WHAT THEY'RE PAYING FOR IN THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. -- IN THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TODAY FOR THEIR FAMILIES. THAT'S WHY WE NEED REFORM NOW, MR. PRESIDENT, AND WE ARE COMMITTED TO GETTING IT DONE. THANK YOU.

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  • 06:36:45 PM

    MR. LEVIN

  • 06:36:46 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM MICHIGAN.

  • 06:36:49 PM

    MR. LEVIN

    IT SHOULD BE CRYSTAL CLEAR TO AWFUL US WHY HEALTH INSURANCE -- THE HEALTH…

    IT SHOULD BE CRYSTAL CLEAR TO AWFUL US WHY HEALTH INSURANCE -- THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY OPPOSES REFORM SO STRENUOUSLY. IT'S BECAUSE THE STATUS QUO IS SO PROFITABLE. THE MASSIVE PROFIT ANNOUNCED THIS WEEK BY HUMANA ILLUSTRATES THIS VIVIDLY. HUMANA'S THIRD QUARTER PROFIT OF OVER $300 MILLION WAS A 65% INCREASE OVER THE SAME PERIOD A YEAR AGO. THE HUMANA EXECUTIVES MADE NO SECRET OF THE REASON FOR THIS BALLOONING PROFIT. THE COMPANY'S PRESIDENT AND C.E.O. SAID -- QUOTE -- "OUR GOVERNMENT SEGMENT CONTINUED TO PERFORM WELL IN THE THIRD THIRD-QUARTER, PARTICULARLY IN OUR MEDICARE BUSINESS." IT'S NO COINCIDENCE THAT HUMANA IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST PROVIDER OF MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLANS MUCH THESE PLANS IN WHICH PRIVATE INSURERS CONTRACT GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE COVERAGE TO MEDICARE BENEFICIARIES WERE SUPPOSED TO UNLEASH THE POWER OF PRIVATE-SECTOR COMPETITION, LOWERING COSTS, IMPROVING SERVICE, AND INCREASING BENEFITS TO OUR SENIORS. BUT IT HASN'T OFTEN WORKED OUT THAT WAY. WHILE SOME MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLANS HAVE PERFORMED WELL, MEDICARE PAYS, ON THE AVERAGE, 14% MORE FOR MEDICARE ADVANTAGE BENEFICIARIES THAN FOR THOSE IN TRADITIONAL MEDICARE. AND DESPITE THIS INCREASE IN PAYMENTS TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLANS, THE GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE HAS FOUND THAT SENIORS OFTEN FACE HIGHER OUT-OF-POCKET COSTS IN MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PLANS. IN FACT, WHEN THE G.A.O. STUDIED THE COST AND THE PERFORMANCE OF THESE PLANS, IT FOUND THAT IN 2005, THOSE PLANS SPENT SIGNIFICANTLY LESS FOR HEALTH CARE FOR SENIORS THAN IF THEY HAD -- THAN THEY HAD PROJECTED TO PAY. NOW, THAT LOWERS SPENDING ON MEDICAL CARE FOR SENIORS LED DIRECTLY TO THE WINDFALL PROFITS FOR THOSE PLANS. $1.1 BILLION MORE IN PROFITS THAN THE INSURANCE COMPANIES HAD TOLD THE GOVERNMENT THAT THEY HAD EXPECTED TO EARN. THAT 1 POINT -- $1.1 BILLION IS TAXPAYER MONEY THAT SHOULD BE PROVIDING TREATMENT TO OUR SENIORS AND INSTEAD IS BOOSTING INSURANCE COMPANY PROFITS. INDEED, HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES NEED NO TAXPAYER HELP IN REAPING BIG PROFITS. FROM 2002 TO 2006 PROFITS AT PUBLICLY TRADED INSURANCE PROVIDERS INCREASED MORE THAN TENFOLD. AT THE SAME TIME THESE COMPANIES ARE MAKING MASSIVE PROFITS, WORKING AMERICANS AN THEIR EMPLOYERS, -- AND THEIR EMPLOYERS, HAVE ENDURED YEAR AFTER YEAR OF MUCH HIGHER PREMIUMS, REDUCED BENEFITS AND DENIALS OF TREATMENT. OUR CITIZENS NEED A SENSIBLE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. WE CANNOT AFFORD A SYSTEM IN WHICH OUR PEOPLE ARE DENIED TREATMENT BECAUSE THEIR BENEFITS ARE TAPPED. WE CAN'T AFFORD A SYSTEM IN WHICH OUR PEOPLE ARE DENIED COVERAGE BECAUSE THEY HAVE A PREEXISTING CONDITION. OUR NATION CAN'T AFFORD A SYSTEM IN WHICH THE LOSS OF A JOB MEANS THE LOSS OF COVERAGE AND DEBILITATING HEALTH COSTS. OUR NATION CANNOT AFFORD A SYSTEM IN WHICH EVEN THOSE WITH JOBS AND INSURANCE FACE RAPIDLY INCREASING PREMIUMS AND OUT-OF-POCKET COSTS. OUR NATION CERTAINLY CANNOT AFFORD A SYSTEM IN WHICH OUR TAX DOLLARS BOOST THE EVER HIGHER PROFITS AT INSURANCE COMPANIES OR IN WHICH PREMIUMS AND OUT-OF-POCKET COSTS CONSTANTLY GO UP WHILE COVERAGE CONSTANTLY SHRINKS OR DISAPPEARS ENTIRELY. THE SENATE NEEDS TO PUT THE INTEREST OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AGAINST THE INTEREST OF INSURERS. WE NEED TO TAKE UP A HEALTH REFORM PLAN THAT MAKES COMPREHENSIVE, AFFORDABLE HEALTH COVERAGE AVAILABLE TO EVERY AMERICAN AND HELPS KEEP INSURANCE COMPANIES HONEST. MR. PRESIDENT, I YIELD THE FLOOR. I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 06:41:04 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. THE SENATOR FROM RHODE ISLAND.

  • 06:41:15 PM

    MR. WHITEHOUSE

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 06:41:23 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 06:41:26 PM

    MR. WHITEHOUSE

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 06:41:31 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION.

  • 06:41:32 PM

    MR. WHITEHOUSE

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH. MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE JOINED MY COLLEAGUES ON THE…

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH. MR. PRESIDENT, I HAVE JOINED MY COLLEAGUES ON THE FLOOR THIS EVENING TO DISCUSS THE NEED FOR HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM WHICH IS A CRITICAL COMPONENT OF THE HEALTH CARE REFORM PACKAGE THAT THE SENATE WILL SOON CONSIDER. OUR COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AISLE ARE FOND OF SUGGESTING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT OUR CURRENT HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IS FUNDAMENTALLY FIEFNLT IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY -- FUNDAMENTALLY FINE, IT'S FUNDAMENTALLY SOUND AND ALL IT NEEDS IS SOME MINOR TWEAKS. BUT RHODE ISLANDERS WHO HAVE FACED DOWN THEIR INSURANCE COMPANIES OVER THE DENIAL OF BENEFITS THAT THEY PAID FOR WILL TELL YOU THAT THAT IDEA IS DEAD WRONG. AS THEY AND MANY OTHER AMERICANS HAVE FOUND TO BE PAINFULLY TRUE, OUR CURRENT SYSTEM OF HEALTH CARE IS ALL TOO OFTEN A MIRAGE CONCOCTED BY HEALTH INSURANCE COMPANIES TO EXTRACT PREMIUMS FROM CONSUMERS WHILE DENYING COVERAGE WHEN IT'S ACTUALLY NEEDED. REFORM OF THIS SYSTEM OF ILLUSION IS NEEDED AND IT IS NEEDED NOW. AS SOMEONE SAID THE OTHER DAY, AMERICANS HAVE ALL THE HEALTH CARE THEY NEED UNTIL THEY NEED IT. AND THEN THE INSURANCE COMPANY COMES AND INTERFERES. THESE PROFIT-DRIVEN COMPANIES FOCUSED ON SHARE PRICE AND QUARTERLY EARNINGS AND OTHER TELL TALES OF THE BUSINESS WORLD ARE ONLY TOO HAPPY TO DILIGENTLY MAIL THOSE PREMIUM BILLS AND COLLECT THOSE PAYMENTS WHEN YOU'RE FEELING WELL, BUT WHEN ILLNESS STRIKES, THEY VANISH, THEY DISAPPEAR, HIDING BEHIND STACKS OF FORMS, AUTOMATED 800 NUMBERS WITH NO HUMAN TO BE FOUND AND WEEKS AND WEEKS OF DELAY AND DENIAL. THE INSURANCE COMPANY HUMANA PULLED JUST SUCH A STUNT A FEW YEARS AGO. IN MAY OF 2006, A HUMANA POLICYHOLDER WAS DIAGNOSED WITH A RARE AND ADVANCED FORM OF LIVER CANCER. WITHOUT TREATMENT HE WAS NOT EXPECTED TO LIVE MORE THAN FOUR YEARS. BUT IN SEPTEMBER OF THAT YEAR HIS DOCTOR, A BOARD CERTIFIED INTERVENTIONAL RAIDOLOGIST, RECOMMENDED A COURSE OF TREATMENT FOR THE CANCER INVOLVING A NEW TECHNOLOGY -- EXPENSIVE, BUT PROVEN TO BE EFFECTIVE. THE INSURANCE COMPANY'S POLICY EXPLICITLY COVERED SUCH RADIOLOGICAL TREATMENTS. AT THIS POINT, MR. PRESIDENT, IT'S AN INSPIRATIONAL STORY, A TERMINALLY ILL PATIENT WHO'S PERSISTENT AND CARING DOCTOR FOUND A TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCE THAT COULD EXTEND HIS LIFE. BUT WHEN THE INSURER, HUMANA, BECAME INVOLVED THIS PATIENT'S BUREAUCRATIC NIGHTMARE BEGAN. THE TREATMENT RECOMMENDED BY THE DOCTOR IS WIDELY ACCEPTED. IT IS F.D.A. APPROVED. IT IS REIMBURSED BY MEDICARE AND MEDICAID. AND IT IS COVERED BY SEVERAL LARGE INSURANCE PLANS. BUT HUMANA'S MEDICAL DIRECTOR DENIED COVERAGE. HE DENIED IT ON THE BASIS THAT IT WAS -- QUOTE -- "EXPERIMENTAL/INVESTIGATAL. NOT IDENTIFIED AS WIDELY USED OR GENERALLY ACCEPTED." END QUOTE. HUMANNA DECIDED TO DENY THIS LIFE-SAVING TREATMENT, IN SPITE OF THE FACT THAT THE INSURANCE COMPANY MEDICAL DIRECTOR, THE SAME FELLOW WHO MADE THAT DETERMINATION LATER ADMITTED IN COURT THAT -- AND I QUOTE -- "HE HAS NEVER PERFORMED THE TREATMENT, CONSULTED WITH ANOTHER PHYSICIAN ABOUT THE TREATMENT, OR EVEN READ ANY LITERATURE ON THE TOPIC WITHOUT EVER HAVING PERFORMED THIS TREATMENT, WITHOUT EVER HAVING CONSULTED WITH ANOTHER PHYSICIAN ABOUT THIS TREATMENT, WITHOUT EVER HAVING READ ANY LITERATURE ON THE TOPIC, HE REACHED THE DECISION THAT THIS TREATMENT WAS EXPERIMENTAL INVESTIGATIONAL, NOT IDENTIFIED AS WIDELY USED OR GENERALLY ACCEPTED. LEAVING THIS MAN WITH LIVER CANCER AND A DOCTOR TELLING HIM HOW TO CURE IT HANGING IN THIS BUREAUCRATIC LIMBO. SINCE THIS POLICY COULD NOT -- SINCE THE POLICYHOLDER COULD NOT PAY OUT OF POCKET, IT WAS AN EXPENSIVE TREATMENT, THE HOSPITAL THAT WAS TREATING HIM SAID IT COULD NOT PROCEED WITH THE TREATMENT. WITH TIME RUNNING OUT AND NOWHERE TO TURN, HE HIRED AN ATTORNEY TO FORCE HUMANA TO STICK TO THE TERMS OF ITS HEALTH INSURANCE POLICY. THANK GOODNESS HE WON. IN A BLISTERING OPINION, THE TRIAL JUDGE FOUND THAT THE COMPANY COULD NOT HAVE POSSIBLY MADE A WELL-INFORMED DECISION UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF THE PLAN. RATHER, THE JUDGE FOUND THE COMPANY RELIED ON THE FLIMSY PRETEXT OF AN INTERNAL COMPANY GUIDELINE DEEMING THE TREATMENT EXPERIMENTAL. HOW GOOD IS THAT? YOU'RE THE INSURANCE COMPANY THAT HAS THE DECISION WHETHER OR NOT TO PAY, YOU HAVE A RULE THAT SAYS YOU DON'T PAY IF IT'S EXPERIMENTAL, AND YOU CREATE YOUR OWN INTERNAL, INDEPENDENT GUIDELINE THAT DECIDES CONTRARY TO ALL THE REST OF THE EVIDENCE THAT IT IS EXPERIMENTAL. IT'S LIKE BEING ABLE TO GRADE YOUR OWN EXAMS EXCEPT THAT LIVES HANG IN THE BALANCE. THE BASIS FOR THAT CONCLUSION WAS TWO WRITTEN SUMMARIES OF MEDICAL ARTICLES BY A PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY CONSULTANT. THAT'S HOW THEY BASED THAT INTERNAL GUIDELINE. THEY SAID IT WAS BASED ON WRITTEN SUMMARIES OF MEDICAL ARTICLES BY A PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY CONSULTANT. IT MAKES YOU FEEL PRETTY GOOD AS A CUSTOMER OF THE INSURANCE COMPANY TO THINK THAT THEY'RE GETTING THESE RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THEIR OWN PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY CONSULTANTS, HUH? WELL, THE REAL PROBLEM WAS THIS -- THE SUMMARIES WERE WRONG. NEITHER OF THE ARTICLES ACTUALLY CONCLUDED THAT THE TREATMENT WAS EXPERIMENTAL. THE WHOLE THING WAS A BIG, COMPLEX BUREAUCRATIC CHASE FOUNDED IN FALSEHOOD. THE COURT FOUND THAT HUMANA INAPPROPRIATELY DENIED THE TREATMENT AND ORDERED THAT IT IMMEDIATELY PAY FOR THIS PATIENT'S CANCER TREATMENT. WHAT A WASTE -- A WASTE OF MONEY, A WASTE OF TIME, A WASTE OF RESOURCES, AND WORSE THAN ALL OF THAT, WHAT A THING FOR THIS MAN TO HAVE TO GO THROUGH. NOT ENOUGH THAT HE HAS BEEN DIAGNOSED WITH A RARE AND FATAL FORM OF LIVER CANCER. NOT ENOUGH THAT A DOCTOR HAS TOLD HIM THAT WITH THE RIGHT TREATMENT, HE CAN EXTEND HIS LIFE, MAYBE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE A DAUGHTER GRADUATE, MAYBE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE A SON GET MARRIED, MAYBE LONG ENOUGH TO ARRANGE HIS AFFAIRS FOR HIS FAMILY TO DO WELL AFTER HE HAS LEFT THEM. ON TOP OF ALL THAT, HE NOW HAD TWO BATTLES TO FIGHT -- ONE WITH HIS ILLNESS, ONE WITH HIS INSURANCE COMPANY. WE HAVE HEARD A LOT OF HYSTERICAL PROPAGANDA LATELY ABOUT HOW HEALTH REFORM WILL PUT THE GOVERNMENT BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR DOCTOR. INDEED, THE RECENT G.O.P. HEALTH CARE BILL ON THE HOUSE SIDE HAS IN ITS OPENING PASSAGES THAT IT WILL NOT INTERVENE IN THE DOCTOR-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP, SUGGESTING THAT OTHER PROPOSALS WOULD INTERVENE IN THE DOCTOR-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP. WELL, I SUBMIT TO YOU THAT OUR COLLEAGUES ON THE OTHER SIDE ARE A LOT LESS CONCERNED ABOUT INTERVENING IN THE DOCTOR-PATIENT RELATIONSHIP THAN THEY ARE ABOUT THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES INTERVENING IN THE INSURER TO INSURED RELATIONSHIP. I SUBMIT THAT THEY ARE MORE CONCERNED ABOUT LEAVING AMERICAN INSUREDS AT THE MERCY OF THESE INSURANCE COMPANIES WHERE THE PLACES THAT THEY ACTUALLY INTERVENE BETWEEN THE PATIENT AND THE DOCTOR. THE WORRY FOR THE REAL AMERICA ISN'T THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS INTERFERING BETWEEN THEM AND THEIR DOCTOR. THE WORRY IS THAT WHEN THEY GET SICK, THAT INSURANCE COMPANY INTERVENES BETWEEN THEM AND THEIR DOCTOR. AND WE HEAR IT IN RHODE ISLAND, WE HEAR IT IN THE PRESIDING OFFICER'S STATE OF COLORADO. WE HEAR IT OVER AND OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. INDEED, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT THEY DO IS CALLED RESCISSION. RESCISSION IS WHEN YOU'VE PAID YOUR PREMIUMS, YOU HAVE BEEN A GOOD CUSTOMER, YOU THINK YOU'RE A CUSTOMER IN GOOD STANDING, AND SOMETHING AWFUL HAPPENS, AN UNEXPECTED DIAGNOSIS, A TERRIBLE ACCIDENT, AND SUDDENLY YOU NEED TO CALL ON THAT INSURANCE POLICY THAT YOU'VE PAID FOR MONTH AFTER MONTH, YEAR AFTER YEAR, TO SEE YOU THROUGH YOUR TIME OF ILLNESS OR INJURY. AND THEN WHAT DO THEY DO? THE FIRST THING THEY DO IS SEND SOMEBODY IN THEIR ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICES SQUIRRELING OFF THROUGH YOUR FILE TO LOOK FOR SOMETHING THAT YOU DID WRONG WHEN YOU FILLED OUT THE FORM, AND IF THEY CAN FIND A MISTAKE, THEY YANK THE COVERAGE THAT YOU PAID FOR ALL THOSE YEARS. A RECENT STUDY BY THE HOUSE, OUR COLLEAGUES OVER ON THE OTHER SIDE, COMMITTEE INVESTIGATORS FOUND A TOTAL OF 1,776 -- 19,776 RESCISSIONS FROM JUST THREE LARGE INSURANCE COMPANIES OVER FIVE YEARS. 19,776 FAMILIES THAT THOUGHT THEY HAD COVERAGE, THAT PAID FOR COVERAGE, THAT WERE GOOD CUSTOMERS, BUT WHEN THEY GOT SICK, THE INSURANCE COMPANY TURNED ON THEM AND ONCE AGAIN THEY HAD TO FIGHT THOSE TWO BATTLES, ONE AGAINST THE ILLNESS OR INJURY, ONE AGAINST THE INSURANCE COMPANY. BY THE WAY, THE RESCISSIONS SAVED THOSE THREE INSURANCE COMPANIES $300 MILLION. A THIRD OF A BILLION DOLLARS. AS A PROSECUTOR WOULD SAY, THERE'S MOTIVE. WHEN YOU LOOK FOR REAL EXAMPLES OF BUREAUCRATIC INTERFERENCE, WHEN YOU LOOK FOR REAL EXAMPLES THAT RESEMBLE DEATH PANELS, YOU NEED LOOK NO FURTHER THAN THE KIND OF STORY ABOUT THIS GENTLEMAN THAT HUMANA TURNED ON WHEN HE GOT HIS DIAGNOSIS. WE ARE HERE NOT TO ENCOURAGE THAT, NOT TO HAVE THE GOVERNMENT DO IT, BUT TO STOP IT, TO PUT AN END TO IT. IN STARK CONTRAST TO THIS PATIENT'S HUMILIATION, HAVING TO PAY ATTORNEY'S FEES OUT OF HIS POCKET, HAVING TO FIGHT HIS INSURANCE COMPANY, HAVING TO TRY TO COPE WITH ALL THIS NONSENSE WHILE SUFFERING FROM A TERMINAL ILLNESS, HUMANA EXECUTIVES AND SHAREHOLDERS HAVE DONE QUITE WELL. THE COMPANY REPORTED THIS WEEK THAT ITS THIRD QUARTER PROFITS ARE UP 65%. ITS C.E.O., MICHAEL McALISTER, WAS PAID $5.2 MILLION IN 2008. NICE PAY. TOO BAD THE WORK IS SO MEAN-SPIRITED. YOU MIGHT THINK THE HUMANA. STORY IS EXTREME, AN OUTLIAR, A RATHER TRAGIC CASE, BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG. THE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY TORMENTS PATIENTS LIKE THAT DAY IN AND DAY OUT. 17 OF THEM JUST WITH THOSE RESCISSIONS. ANOTHER EXAMPLE, IN 2005, BLUE CROSS OF CALIFORNIA DENIED A PATIENT'S CLAIM FOR BONE MARROW TREATMENT, WRITING ONLY THAT ITS DECISION WAS, AND I QUOTE -- "BASED UPON THE MEMBER'S SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES AND UPON PEER REVIEWED CRITERIA, INCLUDING MEDICAL POLICY." WHAT IS THAT? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? "BASED UPON THE MEMBER'S SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES AND UPON PEER REVIEWED CRITERIA, INCLUDING MEDICAL POLICY." WHAT A LOT OF RIGAMAROLE. THE STATE INSURANCE COMMISSIONER STEPPED IN AND PENALIZED THE COMPANY BECAUSE IT DIDN'T DESCRIBE ANY REASONS FOR THE DENIAL, NOR DID IT CITE PROVISIONS OF THE INSURANCE POLICY UPON WHICH IT RELIED. JUST BASED UPON THE MEMBER'S SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES AND PEER REVIEWED CRITERIA, INCLUDING MEDICAL POLICY. YOU COULDN'T MAKE THAT UP ABOUT ANYTHING. IN ESSENCE, THE INSURANCE COMPANY DENIED THAT CLAIM FOR NO REASON. THAT SAME YEAR, THE COMPANY DENIED ANOTHER PATIENT'S CLAIM FOR NUTRITIONAL COUNSELING TO TREAT ANOREXIA. IN ITS NOTICE OF CANCELLATION, THE COMPANY WROTE TO ITS INSURED THAT NUTRITIONAL COUNSELING IS ONLY COVERED WHEN THE DIAGNOSIS IS DIABETES. SINCE THE CLAIM WAS NOT SUBMITTED WITH A DIABETES DIAGNOSIS, THE CLAIM WAS DENIED. CALIFORNIA'S INSURANCE REGULATOR FOUND THAT THE COMPANY'S REASONING DIRECTLY CONTRADICTED THE BENEFITS LISTED UNDER THE POLICY, WHICH SAID THAT DIETARY COUNSELING, AND I QUOTE -- "IS COVERED IF IT IS FOR THE TREATMENT OF ANOREXIA." WHY DO YOU MAKE SOMEBODY WHO NEEDS THIS HEALTH CARE GO CHASING THROUGH THE POLICY TO FIND THE PLACE WHERE IT ACTUALLY SAYS IT'S COVERED? WHY MAKE UP A LIE THAT IT'S NOT COVERED? WELL, THERE IS AN OBVIOUS REASON. IF YOU DO THAT, ENOUGH PEOPLE, SOME WON'T TAKE THE TROUBLE. SOME WILL FIGHT BACK. SOME WILL FIGURE OUT IT'S INACCURATE, SOME WILL GO TO THE REGULATORS, BUT SOME WILL GIVE UP. AND OFF THOSE WHO GIVE UP, YOU MAKE MONEY. BLUE CROSS OF CALIFORNIA IS OWNED BY WELLPOINT WHOSE C.E.O. ANGELLA BRAYLEY MADE MADE $9.8 MILLION LAST YEAR. CHARLES DICKENS MANY YEARS AGO WROTE A BOOK CALLED "BLEAK HOUSE." IN "BLEAK HOUSE," -- THERE ARE A LOT OF STORY LINES IN" BLEAK HOUSE," BUT ONE OF THEM IS ABOUT TWO YOUNG PEOPLE WHO ARE PURSUING A CASE IN THE BRITISH COURTS. JARNDICEV.JARNDICE WAS THE NAME OF THE LITIGATION. IT IS DESCRIBED IN "BLEAK HOUSE" AS A MONSTER, EXTENDING THROUGH THE COURTS THROUGH WRITS AND CLERKS AND JUDGES, AND THE STORY LINE THROUGH "BLEAK HOUSE" IS THAT EVENTUALLY, THROUGH ALL THIS BUREAUCRACY, THROUGH ALL THIS NIGHTMARE, THROUGH ALL THIS HASSLE, THE COUPLE FINALLY GETS TO THE POINT WHERE THEY ACHIEVE THE INHERITANCE THAT WAS THEIRS AND THAT WAS THE SUBJECT OF THE LITIGATION THAT THEY NEEDED TO CLAIM THROUGH THIS ARDUOUS ORDEAL. THE PROBLEM: BY THE TIME THEY GOT THE INHERITANCE, IT HAD ALL BEEN EATEN UP, EVERY PENNY AND FARTHING OF IT EATEN UP BY ALL THAT PROCESS AND ALL THAT DELAY. OUR CURRENT SYSTEM OF PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE TOO OFTEN LEAVES POLICYHOLDERS FEELING LIKE THAT POOR YOUNG COUPLE IN "BLEAK HOUSE," SURROUNDED BY BUREAUCRACY, SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO ARE OUT TO GOUGE YOU, NOT TO HELP YOU, SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO TURN THEIR BACKS ON YOU IN YOUR HOUR OF NEED, SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE WHO SOLD YOU ALL THE HEALTH COVERAGE YOU NEED UNTIL YOU REALLY NEED IT, AND THEN THEY'RE LOOKING FOR LOOPHOLES AND TRYING TO DENY YOU COVERAGE. I THINK WE OWE AMERICANS BETTER THAN THAT. I THINK WE CAN BUILD A SYSTEM OF HEALTH INSURANCE ABOUT WHICH DICKENS WOULD NOT BE TEMPTED TO WRITE OR FRANZ KAFKA, FOR THAT MATTER. LET'S BUILD A SYSTEM THAT PREVENTS INSURERS FROM EVADING THEIR PROMISES, IN WHICH PEOPLE CAN'T BE DENIED COVERAGE FOR PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS, IN WHICH SURPRISE ANNUAL OR LIFETIME CAPS DON'T PUT YOU INTO BANKRUPTCY, IN WHICH INSURERS COMPETE ON CUSTOMER SERVICE, NOT ON HOW TO FIGURE OUT WAYS TO DENY YOU COVERAGE. THAT IS A SYSTEM THAT WE IN CONGRESS ARE STRIVING TO ENACT INTO LAW THIS YEAR. ONE OF THE WAYS I THINK THAT WE WILL DO THIS IS BY ADDING TO THE BILL A PUBLIC OPTION. BECAUSE YOU CAN CHASE THESE INSURANCE COMPANIES AROUND UNTIL YOU ARE BLUE IN THE FACE, YOU CAN SIKH THE REGULATORS ON -- YOU CAN SIC THE REGULATORS ON THEM ALL DAY LONG, BUT THEY HAVE BEEN DOING THIS FOR YEARS. IT IS A HABIT. IT IS A PATTERN AND PRACTICE. IT IS A BUSINESS MODEL, AND IT IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE WITHOUT COMPETITION FORCING IT, AND THAT IS YET ANOTHER ONE OF THE REASONS WHY A PUBLIC OPTION IS SO IMPORTANT IN THIS DEBATE. ONE OF MY FELLOW RHODE ISLANDERS, KAREN IGNANI, IS ACTUALLY THE CHIEF LOBBYIST FOR THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY. SHE SAID SOMETHIN -- AND SHE SAID SOMETHING THE OTHER DAY ABOUT THE PUBLIC OPTION. SHE SAID IT WOULD REDUCE PAYMENTS TO DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS RATHER THAN DRIVING REAL REFORMS THAT BRING DOWN COSTS AND IMPROVE QUALITY. I SUBMIT, MR. PRESIDENT, SHE HAS THAT EXACTLY WRONG, EXACTLY BACKWARDS. FIRST, AS WE HAVE CRAFTED THE PUBLIC OPTION, IT WOULD HAVE TO COMPETE AND NEGOTIATE FOR PRICE, JUST LIKE THE PRIVATE INSURANCE INDUSTRY DOES, NO DIFFERENT THAN THE INSURANCE COMPANIES THAT MISS IGNANI REPRESENTS. BUT MORE TO THE IMPORTANT, THIS IDEA THAT THEY WILL COMPETE BY REDUCING PAYMENTS TO DOCTORS AND NOT DRIVE THE REAL REFORMS, I SUBMIT THE EXACT OPPOSITE IS TRUE. IT IS THE PUBLIC OPTIONS THAT WILL DRIVE THE REAL REFORMS. IT'S THE PUBLIC OPTIONS THAT WILL PURSUE COST-EFFECTIVE QUALITY IMPROVEMENTS, THAT WILL PURSUE WELLNESS AND PREVENTION FOR CUSTOMER, THAT WILL FIND BETTER WAYS TO PAY DOCTORS FOR VALUE, NOT FOR VOLUME, THAT WILL TAKE ADVANTAGE OF PRESIDENT OBAMA'S INVESTMENT IN HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TO TRANSFORM AMERICAN HEALTH CARE FOR THE BETTER. SO I WILL CLOSE WITH THAT OBSERVATION AND I WILL ADD ONE MORE THING. I'VE USED EXAMPLES FROM PUBLIC RECORDS BUT MANY OF US HERE HAVE HAD THIS EXPERIENCE PERSONALLY. AND SOMEONE IN MY FAMILY WHO I LOVE VERY MUCH. I WOULD DESCRIBE THEM AS MY BEST FRIEND. GOT A TERRIBLE DIAGNOSIS SOME TIME AGO. AND HIS FAMILY AND EVERYBODY WHO LOVES HIM GATHERED AROUND TO HELP HIM, AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WAS RECOMMENDED WAS THAT HE GO TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH, WHERE THE BEST SPECIALISTS FOR THIS TERRIBLE DIAGNOSIS THAT HE HAD CAN BE FOUND. AND SO HE WENT TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH. I ACTUALLY WENT WITH HIM BECAUSE IT'S JUST UP THE ROAD IN MARYLAND AND HE TO COME DOWN FROM NEW YORK, AND I WANTED TO BE A GOOD FRIEND AND A GOOD FAMILY MEMBER AND SHOW SUPPORT AND BE THERE WITH HIM. SO I KNOW FIRSTHAND THAT HE WENT UP TO N.I.H. AND I KNOW THAT HE SPOKE TO THAT DOCTOR, THAT WORLD'S BEST EXPERT ON THIS TERRIBLE DIAGNOSIS. AND I KNOW FIRSTHAND WHAT HE WAS TOLD. I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS TOLD TO DO BY THAT DOCTOR. AND HE WENT BACK HOME TO NEW YORK WITH THIS COURSE OF TREATMENT FOR HIS CONDITION THAT HAD BEEN GIVEN TO HIM BY THE TOP SPECIALIST IN THE FIELD, IN THE COUNTRY, THE MAN RECOGNIZED BY THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH HEALTH. AND WHEN HE BEGAN THAT COURSE OF TREATMENT, GUESS WHAT HIS INSURANCE COMPANY TOLD HIM? I'M SORRY, THAT'S NOT THE INDICATED TREATMENT. OH, REALLY? NOT INDICATED? BY WHOM? BY SOME PERSON ON THE OTHER END OF THE PHONE WHO'S NEVER EVEN EXAMINED HIM? BY SOME PERSON ON THE OTHER END OF THE TO PHONE WHO MIGHT NOT EVEN HAVE A MEDICAL DEGREE? AND WHY IS IT THAT EVERY SINGLE TIME THE INSURANCE COMPANIES GET INVOLVED AND SAY THAT SOMETHING ISN'T THE INDICATED TREATMENT, THE INDICATED TREATMENT IS LESS EXPENSIVE, THE TREATMENT THAT THEY WANT IS LESS EXPENSIVE THAN WHAT THE DOCTOR WANTS? YOU'D THINK MAYBE ONCE IN AWHILE, JUST TO THROW US OFF, THEY MIGHT SAY, NO, NO, NO, WAIT A MINUTE, THE INDICATED TREATMENT IS ACTUALLY MORE EXPENSIVE AND BETTER THAN WHAT YOUR DOCTOR SAID AND WE WANT YOU TO HAVE THAT. HAS THAT EVER HAPPENED? I DON'T THINK SO. EVERY TIME THAT THE PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY STEPS INBETWEEN YOU AND YOUR DOCTOR AND SAYS, NO, WE'RE NOT COVERING THAT TREATMENT, WE DON'T CARE THAT YOUR DOCTOR PRESCRIBED IT, IN THIS CASE WE DON'T EVEN CARE THAT THE TOP SPECIALIST IN THE COUNTRY PRESCRIBED IT, IT'S ALWAYS TO PUSH YA TO A CHEAPER TREATMENT. AND THE TERRIBLE THING IS THAT FOR EVERY AMERICAN LIKE THE MAN I LOVE, FOR EVERY AMERICAN LIKE HIM WHO FOUGHT BACK, WHO SAID, NUTS TO THAT, I'VE BEEN TO THE N.I.H., THIS IS WHAT THEY TOLD ME TO DO, THIS IS WHAT I'M DOING DOING, SOME NUMBER WILL GIVE UP, SOME NUMBER WILL BE DEFEATED. ALREADY SCARED BY A TERRIBLE DIAGNOSIS, ALREADY BOMBARDED AT HOME WITH FORMS AND BILLS AND THINGS THAT THEY DON'T KNOW THOUSANDHOW TOCOPE WITH, ALREADY TRYING TO COPE WITH ISSUES LIKE PREPARING PREPARING THEIR FAMILY FOR HORRIBLE NEWS, DEALING WITH THE DIFFICULTIES OF HORRIBLE TREATMENT. SOME INFORM THEM WILL GIVE UP AND THEY'LL LET THE INSURANCE COMPANIES GET AWAY WITH IT. AND FOR EVERY ONE OF THEM WHO DIES A LITTLE EARLIER BECAUSE HE DIDN'T GET THE TREATMENT HE SHOULD HAVE, FOR EVERY ONE OF THEM, WE IN THIS CONGRESS NEED TO GET TO WORK TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS KIND OF BEHAVIOR IS NEVER PERMITTED AGAIN IN THIS COUNTRY. THIS IS NOT A SMALL MATTER. THIS HITS HOME IN EVERY ONE OF OUR STATES EVERY DAY. AND SO I AM PROUD TO SUPPORT OUR HEALTH CARE REFORM. I THINK THAT WE'RE GOING TO SEE THIS THING THROUGH TO THE END AND WE'RE GOING TO GET IT RIGHT. AND AFTER ALL THE SCAREMONGERING AND ALL THE STORIES ABOUT DEATH PANELS AND ALL THE PHONY DEFENSE ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT GETTING BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR DOCTOR WHEN WHAT THEY'RE REALLY PROTECTING IS THE RIGHT OF THE INSURANCE COMPANY TO STEP IN AND GET BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR DOCTOR, THAT'S WHAT THEY'RE ABOUT. AFTER ALL OF THAT, WHAT PEOPLE ARE GOING TO FIND COMING OUT WHEN THEY ACTUALLY SEE THE REAL RESULTS IS THAT, IN FACT, THE WORLD HAS CHANGED FOR THEM. WHAT AMERICANS WILL SEE IS THAT WE WILL HAVE CHANGED THE WORLD FOR THE BETTER FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE NOW IN THE GRIP OF THESE GREED-DRIVEN INSURANCE COMPANIES. I THANK THE DISTINGUISHED PRESIDING OFFICER VERY MUCH. I YIELD THE FLOOR, AND I NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 07:07:25 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 07:10:14 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 07:10:17 PM

    MR. CASEY

    THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT. I ASK CONSENT THAT THE QUORUM CALL BE VITIATED.

  • 07:10:20 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION, SO ORDERED.

  • 07:10:22 PM

    MR. CASEY

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT'S SO ORDERED.

  • 07:10:38 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT'S SO ORDERED.

  • 07:10:41 PM

    MR. CASEY

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH. AND I RISE TONIGHT TO ALSO SPEAK ABOUT HEALTH CARE,…

    THANK YOU VERY MUCH. AND I RISE TONIGHT TO ALSO SPEAK ABOUT HEALTH CARE, AS WE'VE HEARD FROM SOME OF MY COLLEAGUES. I WAS COMING IN AS SENATOR WHITEHOUSE WAS CONCLUDING HIS -- HIS REMARKS ON THE FLOOR AND WE'RE GRATEFUL FOR HIS LEADERSHIP AND THE LEADERSHIP DEMONSTRATED BY SO MANY OF OUR COLLEAGUES HERE ON THIS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT ISSUE. WE'VE HEARD A GREAT -- A GREAT DEAL ABOUT -- IN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS ABOUT SOME OF THE FUNDAMENTALS OF HEALTH CARE REFORM. I WAS SPEAKING LAST WEEK ABOUT CHILDREN AND SOME OF THE PROGRESS WE NEED TO MAKE IN THE FINAL BILL TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN, TO MAKE SURE THAT ESPECIALLY POOR CHILDREN ARE NOT ONLY NOT WORSE OFF AT THE END OF THIS DEBATE BUT ALSO THAT THEY'RE, IN FACT, BETTER OFF BECAUSE OF THE REFORMS THAT WE'VE MADE. WE HAVE GREAT MODELS TO WORK WITH. WE HAVE -- I SHOULD SAY GREAT PROGRAMS TO WORK WITH. THE CHILDREN'S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM, FOR EXAMPLE, HAS BEEN TREMENDOUSLY SUCCESSFUL IN ENSURING THE CHILDREN OF WORKING PARENTS -- IN INSURING THE CHILDREN OF WORKING PARENTS. WE KNOW THAT THE KIND OF EARLY PERIODIC SCREENING AND DIAGNOSTIC TESTING DONE MANY IN MEDICAID IS VERY IMPORTANT TO OUR -- TO POOR CHILDREN AND THEIR FAMILY. SO THERE'S MUCH WE HAVE TO DO JUST WITH REGARD TO CHILDREN. OUR OLDER CITIZENS, OF COURSE, ARE A HUGE FOCUS OF THIS HEALTH CARE REFORM. WE WANT TO CONTROL COSTS. WE WANT TO PROVIDE BETTER QUALITY, ENSURE PREVENTION STRATEGIES THAT WILL NOT ONLY SAFE LIVES BUT ALSO SAVE US A LOT OF MONEY. WE WANT TO WHEFL, AS WE'VE BEEN TRYING TO DO, WITH THE COST ISSUE, AND WE'LL CONTINUE TO DO THAT I THINK SUCCESSFULLY. BUT ONE AREA I THINK THAT WE OFTEN UNFORTUNATELY OVERLOOK IS WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR SMALL BUSINESSES. WE KNOW IN AMERICA THAT MOST OF THE JOBS CREATED IN AMERICA, THE FOUNDATION OF OUR ECONOMY ARE SMALL BUSINESSES. THE VERY BUSINESSES IN STATES LIKE PENNSYLVANIA AND THE PRESIDING OFFICER'S STATE OF -- HOME STATE OF ILLINOIS OR ACROSS THE COUNTRY, BIG STATE OR SMALL STATE, WHERE BUSINESSES HAVE BEEN DEVASTATED BY HEALTH CARE COSTS. OVER AND OVER AGAIN, WE HEAR IT. AND JUST -- JUST IN THE LAST COUPLE OF DAYS, WE SAW THIS HEADLINE IN "THE NEW YORK TIMES:" "SMALL BUSINESS FACES SHARP RISE IN HEALTH CARE COSTS." AND THE SUB -- THE SUB HEADLINE OR THE REFERENCE TO THE STORY SAYS, "UP 15%, ON THE AVERAGE." "INSURERS INCREASE RATES AS CONGRESS WEIGHS MAJOR OVERHAUL." SO THERE ARE A LOT OF SMALL BUSINESSES IN PENNSYLVANIA AND ACROSS AMERICA THAT ARE WAITING TO SEE WHAT -- WHAT THE HOUSE AND THE SENATE WILL DO, WHAT KIND OF BILL WILL WE SEND TO PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR HIS SIGNATURE. IF WE DO NOTHING, ONE THING WE'RE SURE OF, IF WE DO NOTHING, IF WE DON'T PASS LEGISLATION THIS YEAR -- AS I THINK WE WILL -- BUT IF THE CONGRESS DID NOTHING, WE KNOW THOSE COSTS ARE GOING UP ALL THE TIME. "THE NEW YORK TIMES" REMIND US OF THAT, UP 15% ON AVERAGE. AND THIS IS AN INCREASE IN COSTS IF WE -- INCREASE IN COSTS, IF WE DO NOTHING, THAT HAS BEEN ESCALATING FOR YEARS NOW. WE'VE HAD PEOPLE IN THE CONGRESS AND HERE IN THIS CHAMBER AND OTHER PLACES SAYING WE HAVE TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES, WE HAVE TO BE CONSCIOUS OF WHAT THEIR NEEDS ARE. THE DIFFICULTIES THEY'VE HAD IN THIS RECESSION. FAMILIES HAVE HAD A LOT OF DIFFICULTIES, OBVIOUSLY. UNDERSTOOD THAT, SMALL BUSINESSES HAVE. BUT WE CAN'T SAY WE REALLY ARE -- IN ADDITION TO THAT, SMALL BUSINESSES HAVE. BUT WE CAN'T SAY WE REALLY ARE CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS IN AMERICA IF WE DON'T HELP THEM ON HEALTH CARE, IF WE ALLOW THIS TO PERSIST, THIS SPIRALING, EVER-INCREASING COST OF HEALTH CARE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES. IF YOU LOOK AT IT JUST IN TERMS OF PENNSYLVANIA, ONE WAY TO LOOK AT THIS IS JUST IN TERMS OF A -- OF STATE NUMBERS. NOW, THESE NUMBERS, WE WON'T HAVE TO GO THROUGH AND I KNOW SOME OF THEM ARE SMALL, BUT HERE'S THE BASIC POINT HERE. COST OF HEALTH BENEFITS TO SMALL BUSINESSES PER YEAR IF THERE'S NO REFOMPLET THIS IS JUST PENNSYLVANIA -- IF THERE'S NO REFORM. THIS IS JUST PENNSYLVANIA. IF YOU LOOK AT JUST THE YEAR 20089, $7.43, THE ANNUAL SPENDING IN JUST THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA. OVER $7 BILLION SPENT BY SMALL BUSINESSES JUST ON HEALTH CARE. AND YOU DON'T HAVE TO READ EVERY NUMBER HERE BECAUSE A LOT OF THEM ARE SMALL, BUT YOU CAN SEE THE TRAJECTORY OF THAT GRAPH, THAT BLUE LINE GOING UP AND UP AND UP. SO BY THE TIME 2018 ROLLS AROUND, NINE YEARS AWAY, IN PENNSYLVANIA IF WE DO NOTHING, PENNSYLVANIA SMALL BUSINESS WILL PAY MORE THAN $16 BILLION FOR HEALTH CARE, JUST IN LESS THAN A DECADE, MORE THAN A DOUBLING OF HEALTH CARE COSTS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IN ONE STATE. YOU CAN JUST IMAGINE -- YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE -- YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE AN EXPERT WITH NUMBERS TO EXTRAPOLATE FROM THAT WHAT THAT MEANS FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. SMALL BUSINESSES ALREADY CRUSHED IN MANY INSTANCES BY HEALTH CARE COSTS, BEING CRUSHED EVEN FURTHER, AND THAT'S THE COST OF DOING NOTHING. THERE ARE A LOT OF WAYS TO MEASURE THAT, BUT THE COST TO SMALL BUSINESS IS ONE OF THEM. ACCORDING TO AN AUGUST 2009 SMALL BUSINESS MAJORITY SURVEY OF 200 PENNSYLVANIA SMALL BUSINESSES, THE TOP THREE CONCERNS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IN PENNSYLVANIA -- AND I HAVE NO DOUBT THIS IS SIMILAR TO THE REST OF THE COUNTRY. HERE ARE THE THREE TOP CONCERNS: NUMBER ONE, CONTROLLING COSTS; NUMBER TWO, HAVING INSURANCE THAT COVERS EVERYONE; NUMBER THREE, INSURING AT LEAST I HAD-QUALITY, STANDARD BENEFITS. SO SMALL BUSINESSES HAVE THE SAME CONCERNS THAT MANY PEOPLE HERE HAVE: CONTROLLING COSTS, ENHANCING QUALITY, AND MAKING SURE THAT WE HAVE BROAD COVERAGE. 90% OF SMALL BUSINESSES IN PENNSYLVANIA WANT TO ELIMINATE PREEXISTING CONDITIONS PREEXISTING CONDITION RULES AND 75% SEE THESE RULES AS A BARRIER TO STARTING A BUSINESS. SO SOMEONE IS MAKING A DECISION, MAKING A DETERMINATION ABOUT WHETHER OR NOT THEY'LL START A SMALL BUSINESS, AND THEY THINK TO THEMSELVES, I MAY NOT BE ABLE TO GET THIS BUSINESS OFF THE GROUND BECAUSE IF HEALTH CARE COSTS -- BECAUSE OF HEALTH CARE COSTS OR BECAUSE OF PREEXISTING CONDITIONS. WHY HAVE WE ALLOWED THIS PROBLEM -- NOT JUST THE COST PROBLEM BUT THE PROKE WE POINT TO ALL THE TIME HERE OF PREEXISTING CONDITIONS -- WHY HAVE WE ALLOWED INSURANCE COMPANIES TO DO THAT? WELL, WE'VE ALLOWED IT OVER MANY YEARS BECAUSE WE HAVEN'T TAKEN THEM ON AND DEFEATED THEM WHEN IT COMES TO PASSING LEGISLATION. THIS IS THE YEAR WHEN AT LONG LAST WE'RE GOING TO SAY TO INSURANCE COMPANIES, YOU CANNOT HAVE THIS KIND OF POWER OVER PEOPLE'S LIVES, OVER PEOPLE'S BUSINESS DECISIONS BY, FOR EXAMPLE -- ONE OF MANY EXAMPLES BUT THE MOST PROMINENT, THE MOST EGREGIOUS EXAMPLE IS DENYING SOMEONE COVERAGE BECAUSE OF A PREEXISTING CONDITION. NOW, I KNOW THIS SUMMER, WAY BACK IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY, AS A MEMBER OF THE HEALTH, EDUCATION, LABOR, AND PENSIONS COMMITTEE, WHEN WE PASSED OUR BILL OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF JUCIALTION THE FIRST SECTION OF THAT BILL DEALT WITH THE PREEXISTING CONDITION PROBLEM. IN ONE SENTENCE IN THAT BILL, WE SET FORTH A DETERMINED EFFORT TO MAKE IT ILLEGAL TO PREVENT SOMEONE FROM COVERAGE BECAUSE OF A PREEXISTING CONDITION. SO THIS IS ABOUT INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES AND ALSO ABOUT SMALL BUSINESSES AS WELL. THEY, TOO, SUFFER FROM THE PREEXISTING CONDITION PROBLEM IN OUR HETION SYSTEM. THERE ARE A LOT OF OTHER NUMBERS I COULD POINT TO IN THE SURVEY. I WON'T GO THROUGH ALL OF THEM. BUT DID I WANT TO HIGHLIGHT AS WELL TONIGHT WHAT WE HEARD JUST YESTERDAY -- OR PART OF WHAT WE HEARD YESTERDAY IN THE HEALTH, EDUCATION, LABOR, AND PENSIONS COMMITTEE. WE HAD A NUMBER OF WITNESSES, ONE WAS JONATHAN GRUBER, AN M.I.T. ECONOMIST. HE TESTIFIED THAT SMALL BUSINESSES -- AND I'M PRAYER PHRASING HIS TESTIMONY HERE; IT IS ALL IN THE RECORD -- BUT THAT SMALL BUSINESSES ARE DISPROPORTIONATELY HURT BY THE HEALTH CARE STATUS YOW AND STATUS QUO AND THAT HEALTH CARE REFORM WILL LOWER -- LOWER -- PREMIUMS AND SAVE JOBS IN THE SMALL BUSINESS SECTOR. NOW I'M QUOTING FROM DR. GRUBER FROM M.I.T.: "SMALL BUSINESS HAS LITTLE TO FEAR AND MUCH TO GAIN FROM HEALTH REFORM" -- UNQUOTE. NOT MY WORDS, THE WORDS OF AN M.I.T. ECONOMIST WHO HAS SPENT TIME NOT JUST ANALYZING HEALTH CARE REFORM OVER MANY YEARS, PLAYED A ROLE IN HELPING MASSACHUSETTS DEVELOP THEIR STRATEGY, BUT HE'S TALKING ABOUT REFORM GENERALLY ON HEALTH CARE AS IT RELATES TO SMALL BUSINESS. PROFESSOR GRUBER ALSO TALKED ABOUT HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM, BREAKING DOWN MANY OF THE BARRIERS THAT CURRENTLY ARE FACED BY SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS OR PROSPECTIVE SMALL BUSINESSES. FOR EXAMPLE, UNPREDICTABLE PREMIUM JUMPS, LIKE AS WE SEE HERE. WHETHER THEY'RE PREDICTABLE OR NOT, THEY OCCUR ALL THE TIME. BUT THEY'RE ESPECIALLILY PROBLEMATIC WHEN A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER DOESN'T HAVE ANY WARNING. FEAR OF STARTING NEW BUSINESSES FOR LACK OF AFFORDABLE HEALTH INSURANCE OPTIONS. AN IMPEDIMENT TO STARTING A SMALL BUSINESS -- AN IMPEDIMENT TO CREATING JOBS IS ANOTHER WAY OF SAYING IT. NUMBER THREE, PROFESSOR GRUBER TALKS ABOUT OTHER BARRIERS TO SMALL BUSINESSES UNDER OUR CURRENT SYSTEM. HIGHER COSTS AND LIMITED CHOICES DUE TO ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES AND LACK OF BARGAINING POWER. JUST IMAGINE WHAT IT'S LIKE FOR A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER IN A HUGE -- IN A HUGE ENVIRONMENT WHERE THEY DON'T HAVE THE KIND OF BARGAINING POWER THAT A BIG COMPANY HAS OR THEY DON'T HAVE THE KIND OF BARGAINING POWER THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAS TO GO INTO THE MARKETPLACE TO KEEP COSTS DOWN. SO THEY GO IN VIRTUALLY UNARMED OR ALONE INTO THAT MARKETPLACE, A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, THAT MIGHT HAVE FOUR OR FIVE OR SEVEN OR EIGHT OR TEN OR 20 EMPLOYEES. TAX CREDITS WOULD HELP SMALL BUSINESSES WHO NEED IT THE MOST TO HELP THEM PAY FOR INSURANCE. DR. GRUBER UNVEILED A NEW ANALYSIS IN THIS REPORT IN HIS TESTIMONY SHOWING THAT HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM WILL SAVE SMALL BUSINESSES 25% OVER THE NEXT DECADE. NOW, I THINK, WELL, 25%, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? BY HIS ESTIMATE, THIS 25% SAVINGS TO SMALL BUSINESS AS A RESULT OF HEALTH CARE REFORM, IN HIS JUDGMENT, WOULD BE A $65 BILLION PER YEAR SAVINGS FOR SMALL BUSINESS. THAT'S DR. GRUBER AT M.I.T. NOT MY WORDS, NOT THE WORDS OR THE ANALYSIS OF SOME SENATOR OR HOUSE MEMBER ON ONE SIDE OF THE DEBATE OR THE OTHER. SO THE CONSEQUENCES OF THOSE SAVINGS WOULD BE ENORMOUS TO SMALL BUSINESSES IN AMERICA, AND I KNOW WE NEED THIS KIND OF REFORM IN PENNSYLVANIA. WORKERS AND SMALL BUSINESSES WOULD SEE AN INCREASE IN THEIR TAKE-HOME PAY ACCORDING TO DR. GRUBER OF ALMOST $30 BILLION A YEAR. THAT AFFECTS ALL OF OUR LIVES IN A VERY POSITIVE WAY. IF A SMALL BUSINESS IN OUR COMMUNITY CAN HIRE MORE PEOPLE, CAN MAKE AN INVESTMENT IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THAT SMALL BUSINESS BECAUSE OF HEALTH CARE SAVINGS AS A RESULT OF THE HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL, OUR COMMUNITIES WILL BE STRONGER. WE'LL HAVE MORE PEOPLE WORKING. WE'LL HAVE A MUCH STRONGER ECONOMY RIGHT AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL, NOT JUST IN A MACRO OR LARGER-SCALE WAY. AND FINALLY, ON THIS ANALYSIS OF WHAT HEALTH CARE REFORM CAN MEAN TO SMALL BUSINESSES IN TERMS OF SAVINGS, THAT REFORM WOULD SAVE ALMOST 80,000 JOBS, ACCORDING TO DR. GRUBER, 80,000 JOBS IN THE SMALL BUSINESS SECTOR BY 2019. DR. GRUBER DISPELLED THE MYTH THAT HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM WILL -- HE SAID OBJECTIVE C.B.O. ANALYSIS SHOWS THAT THESE CLAIMS ARE CLEARLY WRONG. REFORM WILL LOWER, NOT INCREASE, NONGROUP INSURANCE COSTS. UNQUOTE. SO SAYS M.I.T. ECONOMIST DR. GRUBER. HE HAS LOTS OF EXPERIENCE IN THIS AREA AND IS LENDING THE BENEFIT OF HIS EXPERIENCE AND HIS INSIGHT INTO THIS -- INTO THESE ANALYSES ON HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM, BUT IN PARTICULAR AS IT RELATES TO SMALL BUSINESSES. SO WHAT WE WANT TO TRY TO DO WITH HEALTH CARE REFORM, WHEN IT COMES TO A STATE LIKE PENNSYLVANIA, IS TAKE THIS BLUE LINE OF AN EXPONENTIALAL SECRECY IN HEALTH CARE COSTS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IN ONE STATE, AND I THINK THIS IS TRUE OF THE COUNTRY AS WELL, IN MY JUDGMENT. WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS LINE AND THIS EXPONENTIAL INCREASE IS TURNED THE OTHER WAY OR AT LEAST BEGINNING TO FLATTEN OUT. SO THAT THE $7 BILLION THAT SMALL BUSINESSES ARE PAYING IN PENNSYLVANIA FOR HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM, BY THE YEAR 2018 MIGHT ONLY BE SOMETHING A LITTLE LESS OR A LITTLE MORE THAN $7 BILLION. WE CANNOT SAY -- YOU CANNOT SAY WITH A STRAIGHT FACE OR WITH ANY DEGREE OF INTEGRITY, IN MY JUDGMENT, THAT ULTIMATE TO -- THAT YOU WANT TO LOWER COSTS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES, THAT YOU WANT SMALL BUSINESSES TO MIR HIRE MORE PEOPLE AND THEN IN THE NEXT BREATH SAY, BUT I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD PASS ANY HEALTH CARE REFOMPLET IT IS TOO COMPLICATED OR IT'S TOO SOMETHING TO GET IT DONE THIS YEAR. WE CAN DMOT THAT. WE CANNOT CONTINUE TO SAY, OH, ISN'T IF TOO BAD THAT HEALTH CARE COSTS ARE SO HIGH. ISN'T IT TOO BAD WE COULDN'T DO SOMETHING ABOUT SMALL BUSINESS HEALTH CARE COSTS BECAUSE THIS IN THE END IS NOT SIMPLY ABOUT A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER, IT IS NOT SIMPLY ABOUT WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO FOR SMALL BUSINESSES TO HELP THEM GET THROUGH THIS RECESSION, THIS, IN THE END IS ABOUT OUR ECONOMY. WE'RE EITHER GOING TO CHANGE COURSE HERE, GET CONTROL OF COSTS, REFORM HEALTH CARE AND BE ABLE TO MOVE OUR ECONOMY FORWARD, OR WE WON'T -- OR WE WON'T MEET THAT CHALLENGE. WE'RE EITHER GOING TO MAKE THE CHANGES AND INSTITUTE REFORMS THAT WILL LEAD TO LOWER COSTS, BETTER HEALTH CARE OUTCOMES AND A BETTER BOTTOM LINE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES AND, THEREFORE, CONTROL LONG-TERM HEALTH CARE COSTS AND LONG-TERM NATIONAL DEBT. ALL OF THAT COMES FROM A GOOD HEALTH CARE BILL IN THE END. WE CANNOT FAIL IN THIS. WE CANNOT AT LONG LAST SAY THAT WE DIDN'T GET THE JOB DONE. WE HAVE TO FOR OUR FAMILIES, FOUR OUR CHILDREN, FOR -- FOR OUR CHILDREN, FOR OLDER CITIZENS, AND ALSO FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS. I THINK WE CAN. I THISI THINK WE HAVE THE STRATEGY THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE UNDERSTAND. AND I THINK WE CAN DO IT THIS YEAR. MR. PRESIDENT WITH THAT I WOULD YIELD THE FLOOR AND NOTE THE ABSENCE OF A QUORUM.

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  • 07:26:37 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL CALL THE ROLL. QUORUM CALL:

  • 07:29:07 PM

    MR. CASEY

  • 07:29:08 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE SENATOR FROM PENNSYLVANIA IS RECOGNIZED.

  • 07:29:11 PM

    MR. CASEY

    MR. PRESIDENT, I'D ASK THAT THE QUORUM CALL BE VITIATED.

  • 07:29:13 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    PRESIDING OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION, SO ORDERED.

  • 07:29:17 PM

    MR. CASEY

    I FIRST ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE PROCEED TO A PERIOD OF MORNING…

    I FIRST ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE PROCEED TO A PERIOD OF MORNING BUSINESS WITH SENATORS PERMITTED TO SPEAK FOR UP TO 10 MINUTES EACH.

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  • 07:29:25 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION, SO ORDERED.

  • 07:29:28 PM

    MR. CASEY

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE PROCEED TO THE IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION…

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THE SENATE PROCEED TO THE IMMEDIATE CONSIDERATION OF S. RES. 336, SUBMITTED EARLIER TODAY.

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  • 07:29:37 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    THE CLERK WILL REPORT.

  • 07:29:39 PM

    THE CLERK

    RESOLUTION 336, EXPRESSING THE SENSE OF THE SENATE REGARDING DESIGNATION…

    RESOLUTION 336, EXPRESSING THE SENSE OF THE SENATE REGARDING DESIGNATION OF THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER 2009 AS NATIONAL MILITARY FAMILY MONTH.

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  • 07:29:49 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, THE SENATE WILL PROCEED TO THE MEASURE.

  • 07:29:52 PM

    MR. CASEY

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE RESOLUTION BE AGREED TO, THE PREAMBLE BE…

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE RESOLUTION BE AGREED TO, THE PREAMBLE BE AGREED TO, THE MOTIONS TO RECONSIDER BE LAID ON THE TABLE, WITH NO INTERVENING ACTION OR DEBATE, AND ANY STATEMENTS RELATED TO THE RESOLUTION BE PLACED IN THE RECORD AT THE APPROPRIATE PLACE AS IF READ.

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  • 07:30:10 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT IS SO ORDERED.

  • 07:30:15 PM

    MR. CASEY

    PRESIDENT, AS IF IN EXECUTIVE SESSION, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE…

    PRESIDENT, AS IF IN EXECUTIVE SESSION, I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT THE NOMINATION OF CUMAR TO BE ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF COMMERCE AND DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE FOREIGN COMMERCIAL SERVICE RECEIVED IN THE SENATE ON OCTOBER 29, 2009, AND REFERRED TO THE BANKING COMMITTEE ON NOVEMBER 2, NOW BE JOINTLY REFERRED TO THE COMMERCE COMMITTEE.

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  • 07:30:44 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT IS SO ORDERED.

  • 07:30:46 PM

    MR. CASEY

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT S. 1506 BE DISCHARGED FROM THE COMMITTEE ON…

    I ASK UNANIMOUS CONSENT THAT S. 1506 BE DISCHARGED FROM THE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION, AND BE REFERRED TO THE COMMITTEE ON BANKING, HOUSING, AND URBAN AFFAIRS.

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  • 07:30:58 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT IS SO ORDERED.

  • 07:31:03 PM

    MR. CASEY

    WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT IS SO ORDERED.

  • 07:31:59 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: WITHOUT OBJECTION, IT IS SO ORDERED.

  • 07:32:03 PM

    MR. CASEY

    PRESIDENT, FOLLOWING MORNING BUSINESS, THERE WILL BE 40 MINUTES FOR DEBATE…

    PRESIDENT, FOLLOWING MORNING BUSINESS, THERE WILL BE 40 MINUTES FOR DEBATE PRIOR TO A CLOTURE VOTE ON THE COMMITTEE REPORTED SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT TO H.R. 2847. THEREFORE, SENATORS SHOULD EXPECT THE FIRST VOTE OF THE DAY TO BEGIN AROUND 12:15 P.M. IF THERE IS NO FURTHER BUSINESS TO COME BEFORE THE SENATE, I ASK THAT IT ADJOURN UNDER THE PREVIOUS ORDER.

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  • 07:32:28 PM

    THE PRESIDING OFFICER

    OFFICER: THE SENATE STANDS ADJOURNED UNTIL 9:30 A.M. TOMORROW.

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115th Congress - Senate
Total Hours: 1581 (After 475 days)
  • Debate970 Hours
  • Quorum Calls361 Hours
  • Votes250 Hours

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Source: Resume of Congressional Activity (senate.gov)