Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank the distinguished gentleman. The reason I have joined the gentleman is because I can think of, among the many issues that we have to contend with, no issue that has prolonged itself disastrously as much as providing seniors the opportunity to have a prescription drug benefit with Medicare. I would like to just put these words on our screen, because there must be someone across America sighing right now: Seniors have waited long enough.
I am trying to count the months that have gotten down to 48 months, I think, and if I am not mistaken, that may be 4 years, and I think it has probably been 4 years and counting that we have tried day after day, month after month, and session after session to be able to respond to seniors who are in need. So if I can say anything, I can share with my colleagues this evening that I can take the time to talk about what we have come up with, because I believe seniors have waited too long. I can
at least share our thoughts as to how we hope the hearings will proceed on Wednesday.
Let me just take a slightly different twist, because the gentleman is right. There are many experts on this legislative process that we hope will come into fruition on Wednesday, and I am hoping that we can challenge the pharmaceutical companies to look at what we have put forward and begin a real partnership in terms of answering the concerns of seniors. One, I do not see how they cannot acknowledge that seniors have waited too long and that, in fact, we have a proposal that is fair and balanced.
I was trying to discern what the Republicans are offering. Let me just share why I think this is effective.
One of the things that we have to address with seniors is to give them a plan that is real, that does not have a lot of smoke and mirrors, because if we do that, it is confusing, it is stressful for seniors. I have been in pharmacies, and I believe when we debated last week, we talked about our good friend from Arkansas who owned a pharmacy, and I applauded him for the small pharmacies, the mom-and-pop or the family-owned pharmacies, how much they extend themselves to help our seniors and explain
to them about the drugs, to try to share with them that they cannot take half of the amount that the prescription requires. But I can imagine, if we were to utilize what we think might be the Republican plan, the confusion of many seniors around the Nation trying to understand what they have.
Ours is plain and simple. It has no gaps, it has no gimmicks. The premium is $25 a month, the deductible is $100 a year; coinsurance, beneficiaries pay 20 percent, plain and simple; Medicare pays 80 percent, plain and simple. Out-of-pocket limit, $2,000 per beneficiary per year. We must realize that sometimes this is an economic hit, if you will, for our seniors who are husbands and wives with high prescription drug costs. It takes a large amount out of their collective income and, therefore,
putting this amount so that they know what they can budget and know the options that they have, pretty plain and simple.
Additional low-income assistance. Of course, many of our congressional districts, whether we are urban or rural, have individuals who have incomes that are not going through the roof. So we are prepared to give assistance for [Page: H3588]
those incomes up to $13,290, no premium or coinsurance. Again, plain and simple. Then we have a sliding scale.
Now, in contrast, let me just say that as I am trying to read what may come out on Wednesday, I know for a fact that Republicans have no defined benefits, so we cannot get our hands around what kind of help our seniors will get. That is a concern to me. They create a drug benefit with a $250 deductible. That is pretty high. They have an 80-20 coinsurance split between the government and the beneficiaries, but they have a scale that does not make sense. The first thousand, and then a 50-50 coinsurance
split for the next thousand, and that looks like it is just going up and up and up until you cap out at $4,500. That hurts the constituents that I know. It does not seem to clearly define where we are going with it.
No defined premium. We have already said; we have it right here. Plain and simple, understandable to a senior citizen, they can pretty well grasp that is what I am going to have to pay, and that is not in the Republican plan.
One of the things, when I speak to my mother, because I have gone with her to the pharmacy, and I am very delighted that she has had the family pharmacist who has tried to help her wade through this large mass of prescription drugs that she needs. We are so grateful that we have the opportunity to see seniors live healthy lives because they are having, to a certain extent, better access to health care, as we mentioned last week, because of Medicare when in 1965 President Johnson saw fit to put
it in place.
We have in the instance of the Republican plan no guaranteed access to drugs that seniors need. The plan they are offering seems to put in strictures the access to certain drugs, access to certain covered drugs. Does that mean that they are going to cover only popular drugs, or does that mean that they are going to only cover hard-to-access drugs so that the popular drugs that the senior needs, such as for heart disease and diabetes and high blood pressure, typical ailments, does that mean because
they are so popular, they will not have access to those drugs? I am confused about that and disturbed.
I yield to the gentleman.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I think the gentlewoman is really contrasting what the Democrats have in mind versus what the Republicans have in mind. The most important thing I think the gentlewoman said is that we are very clear about what we are doing, and they are very unclear about what they are doing.
Essentially what the gentlewoman describes in terms of the Democrat proposal is no different from what we have right now under Part B. I do not want to sound too bureaucratic, but I think seniors understand that right now, if they need their hospital bill paid, that is basically paid for under Part A. If they need their doctor bills paid, then they pay a premium which is so much a month, fairly low, a low deductible, and 80 percent of the cost of the doctor bills are paid for by the Federal Government
What the gentlewoman described as the Democratic proposal is essentially a new part for Medicare, we call it Part D, but it is very similar to Part B with doctor bills. In other words, you pay a defined premium, $25, there is $100 deductible, and then 80 percent of the cost, up to $2,000, is paid for by the Federal Government. After that the entire thing is paid for by the Federal Government. For those people who are below a certain premium, the entire thing is paid for by the Federal Government,
just like Part B with doctor bills. So it is clear what we are doing. And we are doing it under Medicare, which has been a very successful government program.
The problem with the Republicans is that they do not like Medicare. They do not like government programs. So they are coming up with whatever they possibly can do to avoid Medicare. They may say they are providing a Medicare prescription drug benefit, but the only reason that they can say it is because they are addressing the over-65 population, not because they are actually expanding Medicare to provide a guaranteed benefit.
I do not want to, I hate to read, but The New York Times article on Sunday was so much to the point, because if I could just read 2 paragraphs, it says, ``Under the proposal,'' the Republican proposal, ``Medicare would pay subsidies to private entities to offer insurance coverage for the cost of prescription drugs. Such drug-only insurance does not exist, and many private insurers doubt whether they could offer it at an affordable price. I am very skeptical that drug-only private plans would
develop,'' said Bill Gradison, a former Congressman who is President of the Health Insurance Association of America.
This is the industry, the health insurance industry. The gentleman from California (Mr. Thomas), the chairman, Republican chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, insisted, ``We should rely on private sector innovation delivering the drug benefit. The private sector approach offers the most savings per prescription.'' But the policy director for AARP said, ``There is a risk repeating the HMO experience with any proposal that relies heavily on private entities to provide Medicare
Now, what I am hearing is the Republican leadership, in this case the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, the gentleman from California (Mr. Thomas), just does not like the fact that Medicare is a government program. He is saying even though the insurance people are saying, we are not going to offer these policies; you can give us these subsidies, we are not going to offer these policies, seniors are not going to have this benefit, but he still insists that it has to be outside
of Medicare, or private.
Then, when the other person representing the HMOs points out, well, you have already done this with the HMOs, you were hoping that by throwing them some money that you would get them to offer prescription drugs, they have not done it. More and more are dropping out. Fewer and fewer policies are available.
So I guess the frustration for me and for both of my colleagues is that we know that Medicare works. We know that trying this private sector giving money to insurance companies did not work with the HMOs. We know that the insurance companies say they are not going to do it.
The gentlewoman started off this evening talking about 4 years. Well, the gentlewoman knows 4 years ago the Republican leadership passed the same thing on the floor, drug-only policies. And everyone said, it will not work, nobody is going to sell them. So for the life of me, I just do not understand how they can come back here again with the same old, tired stuff that does not work, proof that it does not work, and they still insist.
Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will yield, and I see the distinguished gentleman from Connecticut, who has certainly spent a lot of time on these issues. I appreciate the gentleman reading the article, and I think that was worthwhile to show the contrast.
The gentleman used the word ``skepticism'' I think was in the article, and I want to add the word ``speculating.'' So this is a program that speculates that it might work, and that is the frustration that I see that the gentleman is expressing, and that is the frustration I have, recalling again our debate last week, and it was the frustration of going home every single week having our constituents ask us when. So if the Republicans are going to be serious, let us not play around with what is
sometimes a life-and-death question for our senior citizens as it relates to health care.
I would simply close by saying, there is no doubt, the data is clear, that when we passed Medicare, we put years of life on our seniors in America, just as when we passed Social Security in the 1940s to give destitute individuals who really had worked all of their lives some ability to live past retirement to have income. Medicare provided the health care component to it.
Now we come to modernizing Medicare, we all believe in that, and modernizing it is the goal with now the expanded life span, if you will, of our seniors. In order to make that life extension whole, they have to have prescription drugs. Nothing in the Republican plan speaks to making that a reality.
So I am hoping that we can be, if you will, encompassing, and I hope we can be bipartisan. Why not look to a plan that exists?
I will conclude simply by saying that I will be optimistic. Why can our pharmaceutical companies not look at a realistic plan that we have as Democrats, [Page: H3589]
see the vitality of it, and work with us to be able to assure that Medicare is reformed, expanded, and has a prescription drug benefit plan that works so that our seniors will have access to the drugs they need?
I cannot foresee or cannot imagine how my colleagues can turn their back on millions of seniors who would take advantage of this plan to make sure that they remain healthy and have access to the prescription drugs that they need.
So I thank the gentleman very much for bringing this to our attention on the floor, bringing it to our attention that we have until Wednesday, which we hope that we will see a fair hearing, a bipartisan hearing, and that the proposals that we are offering, that really offer closing the gaps and not relying on gimmicks, will have the opportunity to be heard in the committee hearings.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New Jersey for yielding, and I join with the distinguished gentlewoman from Texas in addressing this very important issue that in so many respects he has been like the lone sentinel on the watchwall of freedom, making sure that everyone understands the importance and significance of this issue.
As the gentlewoman from Texas has pointed out, there is not a weekend that I travel home that I do not hear from senior citizens about this issue, and basically we are all hopeful, as she pointed out, that there would be a solution here, hopefully a bipartisan solution. After all, we have got a Presidential race where both major candidates and the third-party candidate all agreed that we needed to have prescription drug relief for senior citizens, and everybody, at every gathering, talked about
the greatest generation ever, and heralded Tom Brokaw's book, and talked about the great sacrifices these individuals have made, and gave them great hope that truly every Member of Congress, most members in local statehouses, all campaigned on the issue in 2000 that we would provide relief for seniors.
So everyone every weekend we come home, and there still has not been a debate on the floor. They cry out and ask why, and it is, with hopefully some optimism, that we are going to have an opportunity not only to debate, but hopefully to pass some constructive legislation.
I applaud the gentleman for not only reading the article from the New York Times, but for laying out the Democratic initiative. I know from having spoken to colleagues on the other side of the aisle of their deep interest in solving this problem as well. I can express it no better than the woman on 60 Minutes, however, who said, I feel like I am a refugee from my own health care system; I have to get on a bus and travel to Canada in order to get the prescription drug relief that I need, in order
so that I am not forced between making the nightly decision between the food I am going to eat, the prescription drugs I am going to provide, and, in our area of the country, whether or not there will be the money there to heat our homes in the winter or cool them in the summertime. These are real, everyday concerns.
We wonder sometimes aloud in this body why more people do not vote, why do they not come out. It is because they hear the platitudes and never see the ensuing policy. The time for platitudes is over.
As one gentleman said to me the other day, I am grateful that people are finally recognizing the greatest generation ever; I am glad we have been heralded in books and on film and in oratory of every elected official, but what we would really like, what we really need is prescription drug relief. We do not need platitudes. We need prescription drug relief, and that is why this initiative is so important.
I happen to have signed on to the Allen bill, which I believe we need to have in conjunction with what we move forward to, irrespective of whatever policies pass here, but I can also say this, and I mean not to disparage anybody on the other side, anyone who at least puts forward a plan and thinks this is a step in the right direction toward dialogue, but in truth, hailing from the First Congressional District, the home of the managed care and health industry, they know that the proposals that
have emanated from the other side, at least the ones that advocate having a private sector solution, are unworkable and untenable. Insurance is pretty straightforward when it comes to actuarial concerns, and trying to actuarially underwrite prescription drugs, as one executive told me, is like trying to underwrite haircuts. That is how difficult it would be, and that is what would make this almost impossible to price out.
So knowing that this cannot possibly work, knowing the tremendous concern that exists in this body and in the other body to have a remedy for seniors, knowing the great sense of community that we all felt after September 11, is this not the time for us to come together and help out a population that has already lived through one day of infamy on December 7, 1941, and have
experienced yet another?
We asked people to sacrifice in this Nation, and they have stepped up and done so throughout their lifetimes. Now it is the time for us to pay it forward, to make sure that they have the prescription drug relief that they need to live out their final days in dignity, to be able to get the kind of relief that their doctors have told them they must have to sustain their lives.
For the life of me and the people that I represent, they are confounded by the fact that a Congress and an executive branch that believes that this is necessary has yet to move and yet to act. The time is now, and as the gentlewoman from Texas said, we hope that we are able to move bipartisanly with a plan that works; but if not, then let us seize the day here and let us move the Democratic initiative forward, and let there be an up-or-down vote in this Chamber on where people stand on this issue
so that senior citizens get to know where people stand on the issue and can distinguish between lip service and platitudes and those that are putting forth a policy that is workable. And collectively I think we owe that to the American public and clearly to those senior citizens.
I commend the gentleman once again for bringing this to the forefront.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, it has been my observation that a proposal of that nature is something I have aptly named, in my opinion, the Marie Antoinette plan. We all know in history the story of Marie Antoinette, who, when approached about the plight of the French citizens saying they were starving because they had not bread, she replied, well, let them eat cake.
What this privatization proposal, the buying of a drug benefit, is, is seniors crying out that we need prescription drug relief and, in an insensitive manner, saying, they need prescription drug relief, let them buy insurance. It just simply is actuarially not capable of being written at a price that anyone could remotely pay for, and so, therefore, the skepticism with respect to this, I think, has been well chronicled.
But we are a better body than that. We need to rise above this and speak to the better angels that exist in this body and appeal, as I have heard Members from both sides come down with their concern to address this. We need the membership of both sides to have a debate on this and to pass a bill that seeks to provide relief for our senior citizens, and we need to do so because of the commitment and promises that have been made by virtually every Member in this Chamber.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I know we are just beating a dead horse here, but there was a report that was done by Families USA that came out a few weeks ago, and basically it said private health plans cannot provide prescription drug coverage; that is just not going to happen. It kind of follows up on what the gentleman said, and if I could just mention, I just want to read a little bit from the summary.
It says, At the time H.R. 4680 was being considered, that is the bill we had last session that had the drug-only policies, it said, At the time H.R. 4680 was being considered, the insurance industry, acting through the Health Insurance Association of America, made clear that it had no intention, no intention, of offering drug-only policies. The health insurance industry reasoned that drug-only insurance policies would be subject to adverse risk selection; that is, they would disproportionately
attract consumers who have existing health conditions, are sick or disabled, and are among the oldest of the old. As a result the policies would be very expensive and would have very few takers among healthier Medicare beneficiaries. The failure to attract beneficiaries with low drug costs would further drive up premium prices and lead to an increasingly unaffordable price spiral.
Then they go on to talk about how we have the example with HMOs and that that is what is happening.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I think that is very charitable because I think it is next to impossible to underwrite for that kind of a circumstance, and while I think the industry has gone out of their way not to offend the powers that be, I think when we ask them directly, is this possible, could they possibly come up with a solution, the answer, frankly, is no. And so we ought to just get on with it and recognize that every day that we do not respond to the concerns, that is another
senior at night that is sitting down and making that decision between food, between cooling their homes in the summer or heating them in the winters, and the prescription drugs that they have to buy.
I am sure it is true for my colleague in New Jersey, as it is for me in Connecticut. I have been going home now, I have only been a Member for 2 years, but over the last 3 1/2 years in telling people that this is what we are fighting for down here, and they watch TV, probably the only generation that watches consistently C-SPAN, and they say, we hear the Members talking about it, but we see no action from our Congress, a Congress that can come together in an instant and bail out the airlines
when there was a crisis at hand, a Congress that can respond when it needs to, and yet here are these valiant citizens have been reaching out, in many respects storming the United States Capitol, whether it be through e-mail, whether it be through their various organizations and associations, speaking out again, emphasizing that this is the number one issue that they face.
Everyone agrees that perhaps, and most notably, this should have been included under Medicare in 1965 in its inception, and we probably would not be here this evening talking about that; but it was not, so, therefore, the Democratic proposal is logical from the outset.
As my colleague heard me say earlier, I think we have to go deeper in terms of the kinds of cuts that we can get in the cost of the prices, which will make it even more affordable. And to those ends, I think we have to engage the pharmaceutical industry to help out that valued industry as well, and not at the expense of research and development, that they have invested in this and the great products they have turned out. This is a wonderful industry. But when you can travel to Canada or Mexico
or anywhere in the Western industrial society and get prescription drugs that are 40 percent less, on average, there is something wrong here.
It is up to us to sit down and have frank conversations that address that issue as well. We can do so under the sanity of a policy that is put forward under Medicare, where it should rightfully belong. And again I applaud the gentleman for bringing this forward.
Mr. PALLONE. If I could just ask the gentleman to comment a little bit on the price issue, because I think it is so important. We have not talked about it too much tonight; but the gentleman brings it up, and I think it is very important that he does so.
The problem we face, or one of the major problems, maybe the most important problem, is one of price, because seniors tell us they cannot afford them. They go to the pharmacy, and they cannot afford the prices. And for the last 6 years, prices of prescription drugs have gone up, in double digits every year. Much higher than inflation in general.
The one thing we have to understand, and again I understand the gentleman understands this, but my colleagues on the other side need to understand, and they, the Republicans, are determined, by at least everything we have seen, they are determined not to address the price issue. Now, we have not actually seen the Republican proposal. I am on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and we will have opening statements tomorrow and we are going to have a markup on Wednesday; but we still have not
seen the bill. But there have been statements made by Republican colleagues that say that they may actually put in the bill language that says that there can be no effort to control or deal with price in the bill.
Now, whether the bill finally has that language or not, I do not know; but you can be sure that it is not going to have any language that would effectively control price. It may only have language that says we cannot.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Well, the great irony here, and again if the gentleman will yield, a gentleman who I have great respect for, the gentleman from Minnesota (Mr. Gutknecht), was down here on the floor earlier talking about this anomaly, I will say, where we are talking about free markets being able to set the price. And what has happened here in this country, the great shame that has taken place here in this country is that the profitability or the profits garnered in this industry
have been done almost exclusively on the backs of the elderly and those who can least afford to pay it.
And why do we know this and why have we asserted that it is a free market approach? Because every survey, every study that has been done, whether it be internally in our own country, whether it be in Mexico, in Canada, whether it be in the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, or Germany, what we found consistently is that their citizens are able to enjoy, on average, a 40 [Page: H3591]
percent differential in terms of what they pay, not for generics but for the exact
same prescription drugs. Shame on us.
And that is why I think people in this body, if we are allowed an opportunity to vote, and I cannot even believe as an American that I am standing here on the floor of Congress and saying if we are allowed the opportunity to vote. These are the people that we are sworn to serve, and yet bringing this issue that universally everybody agrees with to the floor has been the most agonizing, painstaking process. I hope that, as the gentleman has pointed out, the efforts are, in fact, real. If they
are not, I hope the Members of this body, bipartisanly, join together to issue some form of discharge petition, like we did on campaign finance reform, and come together, both sides, to address the concerns of our seniors; put aside the special interests, whatever they may be, and come up with a plan that provides relief for these seniors.
Mr. PALLONE. Well, I am hoping, and I am trying not to be so cynical, but the gentleman does point out that there is a real possibility that the Republicans may not even allow us to bring up our proposal and have a vote on it. I hope that is not true. But the best thing, or one of the most important things about the Democratic proposal is that because we are putting this program under Medicare, now the Secretary who administers Medicare, the Health and Human Services Secretary, now will have
these 30 or 40 million seniors that fall under Medicare. We have a mandate in the Democratic bill that he has to negotiate prices down, and he will have the power to do so because he has the 30 or 40 million seniors in Medicare that he now represents. I have no doubt that that will lead to a price reduction of maybe 30 percent because of his negotiating power.
The Republicans have nothing like that in there. The only thing President Bush has talked about is the drug discount cards, which are essentially a farce because they are already available. The cards are available. I am not saying the cards are a farce, but for him to suggest that somehow the Federal Government would lend its name to it is meaningless. The cards are out there. You can buy them any day. Most seniors are aware of them. They do provide some discount, but the Federal Government is
not doing anything. I guess the only thing President Bush is saying is just promote the cards, go out and buy one, which I think is meaningless.
If we do not control price in some meaningful way, whatever plan we pass here will not work because seniors are not going to be able to afford it in the long run.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Well, if the gentleman will continue to yield, he is absolutely correct. Again, I think the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Allen), who has been as dauntless as the gentleman from Connecticut has been in coming down here and addressing this issue, if we do not do something about price, and as the gentleman points out with the ability to negotiate with the large number of Federal employees that we have, we are able to drive down the cost of prescription drugs, so
by placing prescription drugs in a Medicare program, which is a Federal program, and as the gentleman points out with the large numbers of people, we are going to be able to negotiate a price that will be fair and competitive for everyone, but it will be, on average, far less. And then the combination of those two things, both being in the Medicare program and having the ability to negotiate down, will be extraordinarily helpful.
I think also, in the process, and I was on the floor earlier talking about the need for research and development in aeronautics, we also have to recognize the continued commitment on the part of this country to invest in research and development in these related fields. And I think that that is so essential to our future. We know how productive the field has been.
I hail from the State of Connecticut, home of a number of pharmaceutical companies and the insurance industry. New Jersey has been a long-standing State that has been influential in terms of some of the major breakthroughs that we have had in pharmacology. So we want to continue to promote that and work together along those lines, but we also want to make sure that we are not doing so at the expense of the elderly population in this country. And that, unfortunately, is what has happened; and
we have to put an end to that.
I think we have a good plan to do that, and again I commend the gentleman for bringing it to the floor this evening.
Mr. PALLONE. I want to thank the gentleman for joining me tonight. I totally agree that the whole research component is something that we have to continue. Certainly my home State has been, for many years, a leader in research amongst pharmaceuticals. But what we are seeing is that so much of the price does not come from research, but rather from advertising. The majority of it really is, and we already provide a lot of money for research at the Federal level, and we also essentially underwrite
a lot of the research in terms of the kinds of tax credits or tax breaks that we give to the pharmaceuticals. And I think it is important to make sure that we are helping with the research, but not providing the money that is going towards advertising and some of the other things that are unrelated to research.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I would add, and I speak for myself here, but looking at this problem long term, I certainly for one am more than willing to extend opportunities to pharmaceutical companies who have invested their own money, who have done the research and development in bringing a product to market to allow them the opportunity to recoup the moneys on research and development, but as the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) adroitly points out, not in the advertising
field, not in the promotional areas, not through the gifts to docs and trying to influence people one way or another, but truly as a research and development component and for the risks that they have taken in terms of bringing these things to market.
Clearly, we do not live in a risk-averse society, but what we should be doing is rewarding risk once it has been able to come to the market and provide them with an opportunity and award them, so to speak, for the valiant research and development that they have done.
Mr. PALLONE. I thank the gentleman from Connecticut
Mr. Speaker, before we close tonight, I wanted to just basically go through the Democratic proposal in a little more detail. I know that our colleague, the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee), went into it somewhat; but I wanted to give a little more information about it.
The Democratic bill is called the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit and Discount Act, and of course the most important thing is that it provides an affordable prescription drug and reliable benefit to all seniors; and as our colleague, the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) said, seniors have waited long enough. But basically the purpose of the Democratic bill is four-fold. First, it lowers the cost of drugs for all seniors. It offers an affordable guaranteed Medicare drug benefit.
It insures seniors coverage of the drug their doctor prescribes, and it does not force seniors into HMOs or private insurance.
In terms of the actual premium and benefit, no gaps, no gimmicks. The premium is $25 a month. The deductible is $100 a year. Co-insurance beneficiaries pay 20 percent; Medicare, meaning the Federal Government, pays 80 percent. Out-of-pocket limit is $2,000 per beneficiary per year; and if one is below a certain income, then the premium is paid for. So it is very similar to part B, the way one now pays doctor bills, maybe even a little more generous than that.
To just give an example, to give some idea in terms of income for seniors, if a senior's income was up to $13,290, there would be no premium or co-insurance. So just like in part B if one falls below that income, he is not paying the $25 a month and is not paying the 20 percent. It is all being paid for by the Federal Government. So as the gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) said, there is not going to be anybody who is not going to be able to afford this because of their income.
If a person's income is between $13,290 and $15,505, the premium assistance is on a sliding [Page: H3592]
scale; so he would not have to pay $25 a month. He might pay 15 or 10 or 5, depending on what his income is.
But probably the most important thing is what my colleague from Connecticut (Mr. Larson) and I have already discussed, and that is lowering the drug prices. And as my colleague from Connecticut pointed out, the question of affordability of drugs is not just an issue for seniors. It is an issue for everyone. We are addressing it here in the context of seniors, but a lot of things we talk about could be applied across the board. But in any case, the Democratic Medicare benefit lowers drug
prices because it uses the collective bargaining power of Medicare's 40 million beneficiaries to guarantee lower drug prices. Medicare contractors compete for enrollees by negotiating discounts, and it reduces drug prices for everyone by stopping big drug company patent abuses.
I do not want to keep going through this, but I think that it is very important to understand that this is a Medicare benefit. This does not rely on private insurance companies. There is no privatization the way the Republicans have proposed.
We just want to give an example of what a senior would save. A senior with drug costs of, say, $3,059 a year, which is the average senior drug spending that would be anticipated in the year when this proposal went into effect, some people might say, gee, $3,059 is a lot; but that is the average, what we estimate will be spent when this plan goes into effect. So a senior with drug costs of $3,059 per year would spend $300 in premiums, that is the $25 a month, $100 deductible, and $592 co-insurance,
which is the 20 percent per prescription, for a total of $992.
So for that $3,059, they would be saving $2,067, which is very comparable to what you do now with part B for your doctor bills.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, as the gentleman points out, and New Jersey is typical, some States have provided prescription drug programs depending on income; and in New Jersey, it is income-related, and we finance it through casino revenue funds for people below a certain income. Those programs would continue in the State. The State would then get money to pay for those programs. I do not know how Connecticut works, but most States are not as generous as New Jersey. And this applies to any Medicare
In New Jersey it is a little over $20,000 per year income that you are able to tap into the casino-funded prescription drugs program. But remember, this is not income-based, because Medicare is not income-based. So if you are making $25,000 a year or $30,000 or even $100,000 a year, you would still be able to take advantage of this benefit by paying your $25 a month premium, and you pay 20 percent, and the Federal Government pays 80 percent.
Frankly, I think that is important because most of the people that contact us are the people not getting what the States are offering. In other words, a lot of States have no benefit. Some States like New Jersey and Connecticut have some benefit, but most seniors in New Jersey are still not getting any kind of meaningful coverage through the State program because it is very expensive for the State. We are doing something now that will click in for every Medicare beneficiary.
We have part A, which is the hospital bills; part B is the doctor bills; part C is HMOs; and part D would be the new prescription drug program. It is like part B, you pay a low premium, and you get the benefit, and it starts and applies to everyone across the board.
Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I stand here very proud of the Democratic initiative and our efforts to bring this to the floor in a timely fashion and hopefully provide the relief that is so desperately needed by our seniors out there.
Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for joining us.
I am going to be quoting this New York Times article over the next 2 weeks or so because I think that it provides independent backup, if you will, for what I have been saying about the Republican plan. Again, I am glad and I hope the Republicans will bring this up in the Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Committee on Ways and Means on Wednesday, and that they will bring it to the floor of the House the following week for a vote. Hopefully they will allow the Democrats to bring up our proposal
as a substitute so we can have a good debate. If they do that, I will be very happy that at least we have an opportunity. But we have to stress that the Republican proposal is not a Medicare benefit. It is just giving some money to insurance companies, and that is not going to work because the policies are not going to be offered, and seniors are not going to have a benefit.
If I can go back to this New York Times article again, and I went through parts of it, but I would like to cover a little more of it. As I said, the headline is ``Experts Wary of GOP Drug Plan. Some Say `Drug Only' Coverage Isn't Affordable for Insurers.''
Mr. Speaker, this is an article by Robert Pear. It says, ``A Republican plan to provide prescription drug benefits to the elderly through private insurers is drawing a skeptical reaction from many health policy experts. The plan, they say, would face problems like those that have plagued Medicare's attempt to encourage the use of health maintenance organizations.''
Basically what the Republicans are doing with their proposal is doing the same thing they did with HMOs, throwing some money in the hope they will provide some coverage. They do not provide the coverage, and they have been cutting back and throwing seniors out of the plan.
The article in the New York Times goes on to say, ``Private health plans were once seen as Medicare's best hope for controlling costs. In 1998, the Congressional
Budget Office predicted that half of all beneficiaries would eventually be in such managed care organizations. But the market has been extremely unstable. Many HMOs have found Federal payments inadequate and pulled out of Medicare, dropping 2.2 million beneficiaries since 1998.''
Mr. Speaker, I would ask the other side of the aisle, we know that the experience with HMOs in terms of providing prescription drug benefits has not worked. Why would they want to replicate that again by going to private insurers and expecting them to come up with a drug benefit? It is not going to happen.
The article in the New York Times goes on to say, ``Many companies sell insurance to fill gaps in Medicare coverage, but premiums for such Medigap policies have increased rapidly in recent years, and only 3 of the 10 standard policies include drug benefits.
``Richard Barasch, chairman of Universal American Financial Corporation of Rye Brook, New York, which sells Medigap coverage to 400,000 people, said he seriously considered offering a separate insurance product just for drug costs. But after much research, he concluded it was not feasible because most of the buyers would be people with high drug expenses.''
So if Members do not believe the HMO experience shows that private drug policies will not work, what about Medigap coverage? Medigap is supplement coverage you can buy to cover things that are not covered by Medicare. This article shows that the Medigap experience is not offering any meaningful drug coverage either through private insurers. The examples show HMOs are not providing the coverage. Medigap is not providing the coverage. Why do my Republican colleagues think that they will be providing
coverage through private insurers?
At the end of the article it says, ``HMOs have long boasted that they hold down costs, but their ability to do [Page: H3593]
so has been challenged by hospitals and doctors demanding higher payments. Companies managing Medicare benefits would face similar pressures from drugstores.
``The National Association of Chain Drugstores recently sent a bulletin to its members opposing the Republicans' Medicare drug proposal. Crystal S. Wright, vice president of the association, said, `This could be an economic disaster for community pharmacies. Benefit managers are likely to get even more leverage than they currently have to reduce pharmacy reimbursement.' ''
So the drugstores are saying, we are not going to be able to get adequate reimbursement, so we are going to go out of business. Where is it we expect this Republican plan to work?
The last thing the New York Times article says, ``House Republicans said insurers could set different premiums and benefits, so long as the overall value of each drug plan was equivalent to that of the standard coverage suggested by the government. The Republican plan is part of a bill costing $350 billion over 10 years.''
Well, again, I do not understand what my Republican colleagues expect. Experience is that private insurance does not work to provide these kind of drug benefits. The insurance companies say they are not going to sell it. The pharmacies say it will not work. The only reason I can imagine that they are proposing it is they know this is a major issue that is going to face them in the election. They have promised the American public that they are going to provide a prescription drug plan, and so
they come up with this sham which they hope to pass through the House, probably on a totally partisan vote, send to the other body, and never hear from it again, but they can say to the voters that they have tried. But they are not trying, they are
just putting out something that is a sham. Hopefully as Democrats we will show the sham for what it is and to ask our colleagues to vote for the Democratic alternative which would provide a meaningful guaranteed benefit under Medicare for all seniors.
Mr. TANCREDO. Mr. Speaker, I have often come to the floor of the House to discuss the issue of immigration and immigration reform. I have also had that opportunity to do so in a variety of different settings over the last several years. I have watched with interest in the way that this debate has evolved, or some may say degenerated.
The fact is that it does seem to me that the debate over immigration reform is entering a new phase, and unfortunately I think not a productive one. Nonetheless, it is a phase in which the opponents of immigration reform have moved from a thoughtful, sometimes thoughtful, I should say, analysis of a major public policy issue to a darker, more sinister and far less intellectually based discussion.
I say that because of an article that was run in the Dallas newspaper, the Dallas Morning News, and I will get to it because it describes an event and some of the activities surrounding an event that I attended in Guanajuato, Mexico, a few weeks ago. The event was an annual meeting of American Congressmen and Mexican parlimentarians and legislators. It is an annual event, and I think this is the 21st or 22nd year of its existence. I was asked to attend this year, I am not sure exactly why, but
nonetheless I was asked to attend. I did so, and found it to be a very stimulating and rewarding experience, stimulating because the debate on immigration and immigration reform is one that raises a lot of concerns and a lot of emotions; productive because at the end of the 2 days, 2.5 that we were there, I walked
away with a feeling that at least my colleagues from the Congress of the United States and our colleagues in the Mexican Congress were much more understanding of the position that I hold vis-a-vis immigration and immigration reform, and that which is held by a relatively large majority of the people in this country.
I made it a point to explain that my observations with regard to immigration are not borne out of any hostility towards Mexico, any feelings of ill will, and certainly not any feeling about Mexican immigrants themselves. In fact, my feelings about immigration are not in any way, shape or form the result of opinions I have about anyone's ethnicity or nationality. They are irrelevant. I view everyone who comes into this country the same way I view my grandfather and great-grandparents who came
to this country at the turn of the century. They are people for the most part seeking a better life. They come to the United States for promises of economic prosperity and political freedom.
These are, of course, laudable goals. And if I were in their position, I have no doubt I would be doing exactly the same thing. I would be looking for ways to come to the United States in order to better my life and the prospects of a good life for my children, grandchildren and future generations.
I blame no immigrant for the problems we have in the United States with regard to immigration. They are two different things entirely. I am not anti-immigrant. I am certainly concerned about the effects of massive immigration into this country. And it really does not matter the country of origin from which the people coming here emanate. What matters to me most is the numbers. And the fact that massive immigration has an effect on many aspects of our society seems to me to make that particular
subject worthy of civil debate.
I think it is hard to suggest that the growing numbers of Americans and/or people living in this country without benefit of citizenship, many of whom live here without benefit of legal status, it is hard to suggest that that growing number of people in this country does not represent some intriguing opportunities and/or problems. Economic problems certainly, in terms of the cost, the infrastructure that needs to be created to support the many millions coming into the United States, the schools,
the hospitals, the social services.
The other economic issues deal with jobs. Some suggest that everyone coming to the United States is taking jobs that no one here will take. Others, and certainly I side with those who suggest that that needs far deeper review than what has been given it, and that there are many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, even perhaps millions of Americans who are today looking for a job that someone else holds and that someone else may very well not even be a citizen of the United States, or even
here legally for that matter.
Then, of course, there is the national security issue. It is undeniably true that the most recent terrorist activities that have plagued the United States have been perpetrated by people who have come into the country as visitors on visas. Some of them overstayed their visas. Some of them lied about what they were going to do here and could have been and should have been deported. Others, one in particular, actually violated the status of his visa by leaving the country, I believe that was Mohamed
Atta, and could have been kept from returning to the United States, or he could have been deported once he came back after violating that visa status. Nonetheless, all were here and all did their deeds.
As we look at the future, there is a great possibility, even probability, that the United States will suffer other similar types of terrorist attacks. And there is a great possibility that these attacks will be perpetrated by people who come to this country from somewhere else, either by sneaking into the country or coming here on some sort of legal status but only for the purpose of doing us harm. And so our ability to control our own borders, limited as they may be because of the length of
the borders, because of the fact that we have about 500 million visits a year into the United States, those complicating factors make it more difficult [Page: H3594]
for us to control our borders but do not in any way, I think, give us the right to ignore the
borders as a place where we should be concentrating our efforts in terms of national security. We may not be able to stop everyone who is trying to come into the United States illegally. That is surely true. But it is just as true that we can do so much better than we are presently doing.
Tomorrow we will have a press conference at which we will discuss one aspect of border security that is available immediately to us, and it only needs the signature of the President of the United States to put into effect. But that is for tomorrow.
I wanted to lay out briefly my own position on the issue of immigration and immigration reform, because I will share with you, Mr. Speaker, and actually I am going to quote liberally from two different articles that I think are very important as we enter this next stage of this debate that I mentioned to you. It is apparent to me that the point of view that I represent here this evening with regard to immigration control is gaining in acceptability and gaining in political power because the opposition
to it is becoming more frightened, more vitriolic, more bombastic. That is always an indication that we have struck a nerve and that something out there has forced the opponents of immigration reform into this new accusatory mode.
An example of what I am describing is an article, as I mentioned earlier, that appeared in the Dallas Morning News on June 16 which ostensibly is to describe this meeting that I have mentioned in Guanajuato, Mexico. It is also designed to focus on me in particular, my background; my, quote, supporters; the people that I, quote, represent; and paints a rather negative picture, I
should say, of all of those things. It certainly presents me as someone who is more intent upon keeping Mexicans out of the United States than I am about general immigration reform.
Remember, the meeting we were having was in Mexico. The discussion we were having was pertinent to Mexican immigration into the United States. Mexican immigration into the United States does in fact represent the largest percentage of immigrants; and, therefore, of course, it is hard to talk about immigration reform without referencing periodically Mexico. But the tone of the article that says, ``Colorado Politician on Guard at Mexican Border,'' that is the heading, would certainly lead one to
believe, if you were to accept everything that is written here, that there is some great conspiracy or cabal in the works that I have aligned myself with, as they keep saying here, and I am quoting, unsavory supporters and unsavory characters.
The article said that all of the people in Mexico, all of the Republicans and all of the Democrats plus all the people who were on the other side, the Mexican legislators, were careful to distance themselves from my views which are widely seen as, quote, anti-Mexican.
It goes on to say, Mr. Tancredo's message, quote, Mexican immigration is leading to the balkanization of America. It says, he supports a temporary guest worker program for Mexicans. Mr. Tancredo opposes allowing more Mexicans into the United States on a permanent basis. He even blames Mexican immigration for California's energy crisis. I am called anti-Hispanic throughout this thing. Certainly anti-Mexican. That is quoted a couple of times.
Suffice it to say that I have been on the floor of the House many, many times, spent many, many hours in debate on this issue, or discussion or monologues on this issue as I am doing tonight. I would challenge anyone to review any of the hundreds, for all I know thousands, of pages of testimony that I have given either in front of committees or the transcript from the many hours I have spent on this floor doing exactly what I am doing now, or the literally thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands,
of words that have been printed in the media about my position on issues, on this issue in particular, and I challenge anyone to go to anything I have ever said that would lead anybody to believe that I have only one concern about immigration and, that is, Mexico or Mexicans.
As I say, we spend a good deal of time talking about Mexican immigration. It represents the greatest number. But it is never ever, and I have never suggested that our efforts to try and curb immigration be solely directed at Mexico. I have stated here, on I do not know how many occasions, that it is not the ethnicity, it is not the nationality, it is not the country of origin, it is the numbers. It is how many come from a certain place, not necessarily where they come from. And I am just as concerned
about the northern border as I am about the southern border. I believe there is, if not more insecurity at the northern border than there is at the southern border, it is certainly equally as disconcerting when we look at the situation that exists on both the northern and southern borders.
I am concerned about our ports of entry on both coasts. I am concerned about the ability of people to come into the United States via air traffic into any city in the United States, into any international airport in the United States, coming from countries all over the world who come here without giving us really a clear indication of who they are, come here without us knowing exactly what it is they are going to do here, come here and overstay their visas which for the most part I think accounts
for a huge number of people who are here illegally.
They are not just people who cross the border from Mexico. There are people who came into the United States from a variety of different ways and a variety of different ports of entry, most of them coming in with visa status, with a legitimate visa status, many of them with bogus visa status, but nonetheless coming that way and then simply overstaying their visa and staying here illegally. I do not know the percentage, but I would suggest to you it is a huge percentage of the nearly 13 million
people who are here illegally.
But this article would suggest that everything I say and everything I do is designed to attack Mexico or Mexicans. Why would they say a thing like this? Well, we know why, Mr. Speaker. It is because, of course, if they can cast me in the light of a racist, someone who is anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant in general, then they can marginalize me and hence the things I say.
This article goes on at length to talk about the immigration reform caucus which I formed here, a Member of Congress, one of I do not know how many literally, probably hundreds of caucuses there are here in the Congress, and it is exactly like any other caucus. Members join it voluntarily. We have no outside support. They suggest that we get funding from these nefarious groups and that my campaigns are supported by, quote, what they say are unsavory characters. Quote, his critics say that money
comes from unsavory supporters.
Mr. Speaker, ``his critics say that money comes from unsavory supporters.'' Who are my critics? Who are their names? What are their names?
And who are these unsatisfactory supporters? They just use that phrase ``unsatisfactory supporters.''
Mr. Speaker, the last time I checked, we had something like 7,000 individual contributors who contributed less than $50 to any of my campaigns, which, by the way, represents the greatest amount of money that I have ever collected in the two campaigns that I have waged to become a Congressman; $50 or less from thousands of people across the country.
These are the ``unsatisfactory characters'' to whom they refer? What makes them unsatisfactory? Just because they gave to my campaign, in the eyes of my ``critics''? Who are these critics?
Of course, nothing like this would ever hold up in a court of law. You have to name your critics, and you have to name these people who you call unsatisfactory. But in an article that is masquerading as an article and is really an editorial, an opinion by the two authors, Alfredo Corchado and Ricardo Sandoval, this is their editorial opinion they have worked masterfully, I must say, into this ``article,'' an article that is supposed to be an objective analysis of a news event.
What is objective about ``his critics say that his money comes from unsatisfactory supporters?'' Anybody could state a thing like this, because you do not name anyone here. Who are my critics that say such a thing? [Page: H3595]
Then they go on to identify someone later, a Ms. Hernandez. She is, let me see here, the head of the Latin American Research Service Industry, a civil rights group in Denver. Now, I do not know who Ms. Hernandez is, and I have never heard of the Latin American Research Service Industry in my life; but they are quoted here, of course, as some sort of expert on things, and she says that my rhetoric is anti-Hispanic as well as just anti-immigrant.
Now, they finally did quote a critic of mine in this place; but, of course, they did not quote anyone who suggests that I am not anti-Hispanic or anti-immigrant, and there are many people, even, believe this or not, in the Hispanic community, people who write us all of the time, people who run organizations even in Denver, organizations that are devoted to helping immigrants in Colorado, who have met with me, who have indicated their support for my position, who recognize that there is nothing
in me or what I say that can be taken by a thoughtful person as being anti-Hispanic, anti-Mexican, or even really anti-immigrant.
The article goes on to quote the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center did a ``four-month investigation'' which is going to be featured in something they call the intelligence project. I would question that descriptor there of ``intelligence.'' It charged that many in the anti-immigrant network are ``increasingly tied to openly white supremacist organizations and are steadily gaining power in Mr. Tancredo's Immigration Reform Caucus.''
Let me restate the nature of a caucus in the House of Representatives. It is made up of Members. Are they saying that Members of our caucus are tied to openly white supremacist organizations? I would like to know who those people are.
I have never actually even met anybody in this body who is tied to an openly white supremacist organization. To tell you the truth, I do not think I have ever met anybody in my life in that category. They are certainly out there, I have no doubt; I just do not know them. I have never come across them. I am lucky in that regard. I have never really had to discuss anything with people like that, at least to the best of my knowledge.
But they are suggesting in this phrase, look at the way that was printed, charged that ``many in the anti-immigration network.'' What are these phrases? Many? Who are they? ``Anti-immigration network, increasingly tied to openly white supremacist organizations.''
What are these ties? What are these ties that connect us to some white supremacist organization, and how dare anybody say anything like that and do so in a way, again, that is designed rhetorically to poke at those very hot-button emotional issues in America?
A quote here from Martin Potok, the editor of this intelligence report. This is talking about our caucus Web page. This is the main page of a large caucus, a group of Congressmen directly linked in the front page to hate groups. It goes on: ``Tancredo has become an unofficial mouthpiece for some very unsatisfactory characters. His message is eerily similar to theirs.''
This is an article. This is not an editorial. This is not some sort of novel in the stage of trying to get it printed or something. This is something that purports itself to be an objective analysis of the issue of immigration, immigration reform, and certainly our own caucus and who I am.
Well, it goes on like that at length, and it relies heavily on the information from this thing, this organization called the Southern Poverty Law Center.
I have noticed in the past that many people have relied on it, they will use this Southern Poverty Law Center headed by a gentleman by the name of Morris Dees, as some sort of credible organization, and that we should somehow pay attention to what this outfit says about who is a hate group and who is not. So, therefore, I looked back at some interesting research that was done into this particular group, organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and now I am going to quote heavily from an
article that was written a little over a year and a half ago by a gentleman by the name of Ken Silverstein for Harper's Magazine. This was November of 2000, to be specific. It is called ``How the Southern Poverty Law Center Profits From Intolerance.'' He spends a good deal of time focusing in on this Mr. Dees, Morris Dees, who is the head of this organization.
It says here, ``Cofounded in 1971 by civil rights lawyer cum-direct marketing millionaire, Morris Dees, a leading critic of `hate groups' and a man so beatific that he was the subject of a made-for-movie TV, the SPLC spent much of its early years defending prisoners who faced the death penalty and suing to desegregate all white institutions, like Alabama's Highway Patrol.''
That was then, this is now. ``Today, the SPLC spends most of its time and money on a relentless fund-raising campaign peddling memberships in the Church of Tolerance with all the zeal of a circuit court rider passing the collection plate. He is the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement, renowned anti-death penalty lawyer Millard Farmer says of Dees, his former associate, though I do not mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye.''
The center earned $44 million last year alone.'' Remember, this would be 1999, ``$27 million came from fund-raising and $17 million from stock and other investments. But the organization only spent $13 million on civil rights programs, making it one of the most profitable charities in the country.''
Mr. Speaker, as an aside, we have been hearing lately about many organizations, from the Red Cross to others, that have improperly, or perhaps at least alleged to have improperly, used the funds that people have given them, charitable organizations that spend way too much in overhead, paid salaries, paid too high salaries to their administrators and the like, and really do not do what they should in order to protect the people they are supposed to be on whose behalf they are supposed to be advocating.
But, interestingly, in the general media we have never heard much about this particular organization, the Southern Poverty Law Center; and I suggest to you it is because this organization's focus is primarily defending liberal causes, liberal positions, and to the extent that they are doing even what they say they are doing, or should be doing, they could still be quite a reputable organization. But this outfit is anything but reputable.
Mr. Dees, it goes on to talk about this gentleman, and since they spent so much time in these articles and the law center has evidently chosen to point fingers at me and my associates, I suppose it is only fair that we turn the mirror on them, which I am doing, with the help of this article by Mr. Silverstein.
``Mr. Dees, who made millions hawking by direct mail such humble commodities as birthday cakes, cookbooks, tractor seat cushions and rat poison in exchange for mailing lists containing 700,000 names, including Presidential candidate George McGovern, he is nothing if not a good salesman. So good that in fact in 1998,'' 2 years before this article came out, ``the Direct Marketing Association inducted him into its Hall of Fame. He says 'I learned everything I know about hustling from the Baptist
Church.''' This is Mr. Dees's quote.
``In fact Mr. Dees,'' it goes on to say here, ``does not need anyone's financial support anymore. The Southern Poverty Law Center is already the wealthiest civil rights group in America, though the letter-writing campaign, the solicitations campaigns, naturally omit that fact. Other solicitations have been more flagrantly misleading. One pitch sent out in 1995, when the center had more than $60 million in reserves, informed would-be donors that the 'strain on our current operating budget is the
greatest in our 25 year history.'
``Now, back in 1978, when the center had less than $10 million, Dees promised that his organization would quit fund raising and live off the interest as soon as its endowment hit $55 million. But as it approached that figure, the Southern Poverty Law Center upped the bar to $100 million, a sum that one 1989 newsletter promised would allow the center to 'cease the costly and often unreliable task of fund-raising.' Today the Southern Poverty Law Center's Treasury bulges with $120 million,'' remember,
that is 2 years ago, ``and it spends twice as much on fund-raising, $5.76 million last year, as it [Page: H3596]
does on legal services for victims of civil rights abuses.
``The American Institute of Philanthropy gives the center one of the worst ratings of any group it monitors, estimating that the SPLC could operate for 4.6 years without making another tax exempt nickel from its investments or raising another tax deductible cent from well-meaning people.''
In 1986, this well-respected center, this place that this article refers to in some reverential tone, as if we are supposed to be concerned and listen carefully to the accusations made by this outfit, this center's entire legal staff quit in protest of Mr. Dees's refusal to address issues such as homelessness, voter registration, and affirmative action that they considered far more pertinent to poor minorities, yet far less marketable to affluent benefactors than fighting the KKK, which is like
their main thing.
They keep sending out things about the KKK. The KKK is a bad outfit, I am sure of that; and this outfit, the SPLC, keeps resurrecting that ghost. It says here they had 4 million members in the 1920s to about 2,000 today, and as many as 10 percent of them are thought to be FBI informants. So I would not consider the KKK to be the kind of threat it was in 1920, but this outfit still uses them as their poster boy, sort of, to get money.
Because the KKK, everybody says, oh, my God, send this money, or the KKK will rise again. This outfit is a fraud.
The article ends up with this. This is again, quoting back here from the Church of Morris Dees, the article name. Until the early 1960s, Morris Dees sat on the sidelines honing his direct marketing skills and practicing law while the civil rights movement engulfed The South. ``'Morris and I shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money,' recalls Dees' business partner, a lawyer named Millard Fuller. `we were not particular about how we did it; we just wanted to be independently rich.'
They were so unparticular, in fact, that in 1961, they defended a man guilty of beating up a journalist covering the Freedom Riders whose legal fees were paid for by the Klan.''
``In 1965, Fuller sold out to Dees. Fuller donated his money to charity and later started Habitat for Humanity,'' a well-respected, this is a personal observation, a well-respected organization as far as I know, and certainly one that deserves the support of all of us who are concerned about homelessness. Dees, with his share of the money, bought a 200-acre estate appointed with tennis courts, a pool, and stables, and then in 1971 founded the Southern Poverty Law Center where his compensation
has risen in proportion to fund-raising revenues, from nothing in the early 1970s to $273,000 last year, again, 1999.
``A National Journal survey of salaries paid to the top officers of advocacy groups shows that Dees earned more in 1998 than nearly all of the 78 listed, tens of thousands more than the heads of such groups as the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the Children's Defense Fund. The more money that the SPLC receives, the less that goes to other civil rights organizations, many of which, including the NAACP, have struggled to stay out of bankruptcy. Dees' compensation alone
amounts to one-quarter the annual budget of the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, which handles several dozen death penalty cases a year. `You are a fraud and a con man,' the Southern Center'S Director Stephen Bright wrote in a 1996 letter to Dees and proceeded to list his many
reasons for thinking so, which included, 'Your failure to respond to the most desperate need of the poor and powerless, despite your millions upon millions. Your fund-raising techniques and the fact that you spend so much accomplishing so little and promote yourself so shamelessly.' ''
Soon, the SPLC will move into a new six-story headquarters in downtown Montgomery, just across the street from its current headquarters, a building known locally as the Poverty Palace. That is the Southern Poverty Law Center. That is the organization to which we are supposed to pay attention when it comes to determining who in America is to be trusted and who is to be characterized in unsavory terms.
Mr. Dees uses a tactic that has been around for a long time. Perhaps the most familiar, perhaps the most famous individual in recent American history that perfected a tactic of guilt by association, of using that guilt by association to attack his enemies, of using innuendo, half truths, out-of-context quotes, all of the things that we know to be the tactics of unscrupulous individuals, perhaps we all know that Joe McCarthy, a Senator from Minnesota, was and has been characterized as the kind
of poster boy for this kind of activity. He made a career out of destroying other people's careers. He was responsible for ending the careers and some say the lives, some people I understand even took their own lives because of the destruction he wrought upon them and their families. I do not know the degree to which
Mr. McCarthy's accusations were accurate or not; I know that he is characterized as being a totally unscrupulous individual. But I suggest to my colleagues, Mr. Speaker, that Mr. Dees and this Southern Poverty Law Center together rival Mr. McCarthy in terms of the way they can manipulate, they have attempted to manipulate. And I should say the authors of the article that I mentioned earlier, Mr. Corchado and Mr. Sandoval, the way that they use phrases, the way that they use things like what ``critics,''
unnamed critics say; the way they use heavily loaded, emotionally loaded language to try and characterize in this case me and anybody else who believes, as I do, about immigration reform as people that do not deserve to be heard. It is McCarthyism. I am glad we have actually coined that term in America, because everybody now knows what one means when they say McCarthyism.
And it is in its most despicable form that we see here the reincarnation of it, in this article and in the work of this organization. Mr. Dees apparently, according to this article, uses it to line his own pocketbook. Others use it because they want to advance themselves politically and/or destroy the reputations of people with whom they disagree. Name-calling, calling people racist as they do in here, suggesting that that is the motivating factor, that is the last refuge of a scoundrel. And
someone who has shrunk from the intellectual debate that should occur about this very serious topic, their hope is that we will cease and desist, that we will shrink from them, and shrink from this battle because of the fear that someone will think ill of us, and that someone will believe the scurrilous things that they print. Well, some may, in fact, do that, Mr. Speaker. I recognize that, and I am sorry about that.
I know what motivates me. I know what is in my heart. I know it has nothing to do with race. I know it has everything to do with what I consider to be an enormously complex and challenging public policy issue. I believe it deserves debate in this place that we call the open marketplace of ideas. But if these people had their way, we would be silent. If these people had their way, I would refrain from any references to immigration reform for fear that they will come after me, that they will write
nasty things about me, that they will try to destroy my political career or even my own reputation.
Well, I assure my colleagues I will not stop this discussion, I will not stop participating in this discussion. And I challenge all of those who find this an uncomfortable situation and discussion to be in; and I agree with my colleagues, I wish, in fact, we could move on to other topics. I wish we could do that, but we cannot, because this issue is not solved, the problem is not solved. We have not as a country faced up to the problems of immigration on the scale that we presently see it. It
will change America, maybe for the good, maybe for ill. But regardless of one's position on this, as I say, I believe it deserves the debate that this kind of a forum offers.