|1:48 PM EST||
John Cornyn, R-TX
Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, the President of the United States is reportedly traveling to Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Democrats in a few moments. Unfortunately, Republicans are not invited, which follows an established pattern, where notwithstanding the public statements that Republican ideas are welcome, they have been rejected at every stage of the development of this 2,074-page bill. There were party line votes in the HELP Committee and the Finance Committee and virtually every Republican
idea was rejected. The President is coming to rally our Democratic friends to basically do it in a ``my way or the highway'' sort of way. They are going to own it 1,000 percent.
I think it is perhaps very timely to recall some of the President's promises because, frankly, if the President follows the promises he made to the American people, he will not be able to sign this bill or anything similar to it.
First of all, talking about transparency, he said we are going to have negotiations around a big table on C-SPAN so people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who is making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.
The reality is, this bill was merged between the Finance bill and the HELP Committee bill--merged behind closed doors, with only three Senators present and presumably their staffs.
Another promise the President made was this:
The plan I am announcing tonight--
This was during the joint session of Congress, I believe, we attended.
--will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.
This is a pledge the President made to the American people. That was his stated goal for this bill. We see something very different in this 2,074-page bill, a different reality. We see that premiums for those in the individual market--families--will be increased by 10 percent by 2016, according to the CBO. You don't have to take my word for it. It is not some insurance company talking. This is the Congressional Budget Office. Businesses that fail to comply with the job-killing mandates in the
bill will face additional taxes of $28 billion--yes, during a recession when unemployment is at 10 percent. That is according to the CBO. They also say taxpayers will see Federal outlays for health care coverage increase by $160 billion over 10 years.
This is from the dean of Harvard Medical School. He said:
In discussions with dozens of health care leaders and economists, I find near unanimity of opinion that, whatever its shape, the final legislation that will emerge from Congress will markedly accelerate national health care spending.
So much for bending the proverbial cost curve. Then there is this promise--another solemn promise. The President said:
I have made a solemn pledge that I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as President that will cover every American--
This bill obviously does not.
--and cut the cost of a typical family's premium by up to $2,500 a year.
As I mentioned, under the CBO score, the average premium for families in the individual market will go up by $2,100, not go down by $2,500--another promise made that will not be kept if this bill is passed into law.
Then the President talked about deficits. There has been a lot about this bill being so-called deficit neutral. If you cut enough benefits for seniors and raise taxes enough on everybody, you can produce a deficit-neutral bill. This bill will spend $2.5 trillion over the next 10 years with full implementation. President Obama's chief actuary at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services called the ability to sign a bill such as this, without raising the deficit, ``unrealistic and doubtful.''
David Broder, the dean of the Washington press corps, said:
While the CBO said that both the House-passed bill and the one Reid has drafted meet Obama's test for being budget neutral, every expert I have talked to says that the public has it right. These bills, as they stand, are budget busters.
Then there is the promise of choice. The President said the American people ought to have choice when it comes to health care, their choice of their doctors and health plans. The fact is, this bill would consign 60 million Americans to a health care ``gulag'' called Medicaid. I say that because, although Medicaid provides what some people would say is coverage, it certainly doesn't provide access. In the metroplex of Texas, the Dallas-Fort Worth area, 38 percent of doctors will not see a new
Medicaid patient because of Medicaid's low rates.
Then there is this claim that it will not raise taxes. Well, the Joint Committee on Taxation indicates that 38 percent of the people earning less than $200,000 a year will see a tax increase under this bill. In other words, this is another promise the President made that will be violated if this bill is passed into law because taxes will go up for 38 percent of the people. As a matter of fact, out of that 38 percent, 24 percent of them will experience a tax increase, even after taking into account
the premium tax credit that is being paid under this bill. Another promise made, another promise that cannot be kept if this bill becomes law.
Then there is this one. The President said:
So don't pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut. That will never happen on my watch. I will protect Medicare.
Dr. Elmendorf, the head of the CBO, said Medicare's managed care plans would see reduced benefits--I am sorry, that is according to CBS News. The chief actuary said:
Providers might end their participation in the program, possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries.
Dr. Elmendorf said you would see additional benefits that seniors get under Medicare Advantage cut by about half. Another promise, another promise broken if this bill becomes law. [Page: S12532]
There is this, which pertains to the Ensign amendment pending on the floor. The President said:
I want to work with the American Medical Association so we can scale back the excessive defensive medicine that reinforces our current system, and shift to a system where we are providing better care simply--rather than simply more treatment. So this is going to be a priority for me.
If this is a priority for the President of the United States, it is apparently not a priority of those who have authored this bill because all that is contained in the bill is a nonbinding sense of the Senate. We have heard that medical liability reform laws, such as those that have been passed and implemented in Texas--if passed nationwide, this bill could bend the cost curve by $54 billion over 10 years. Yet all we get is a watered-down sense of the Senate that has no binding effect at all.
If the President was sincere about making those promises
to the American people, then this Congress ought to be sincere about helping him keep that promise. The fact is, time after time, this bill breaks the promises that President Obama made to the American people. It is not too late to change that. I hope that, today, when he meets with Senate Democrats behind closed doors, to the exclusion of Republicans, there will be some discussion of how can we help you keep those promises to the American people because this bill does not.