Floor Updates

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Jun 28 2012 9:30 AM

The Senate Convened.

Reid

Opening Remarks

Jun 28 2012 9:43 AM

  • Today --
    • The Senate will resume consideration of the Motion to Proceed to S. 2237, the Increased Payroll Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation bill. The first hour will be equally divided, with the Republicans controlling the first 30 minutes and the Majority controlling the second 30 minutes.
    • Pending is S. 1940, the Flood Insurance bill. Pending to S. 1940 are Reid (for Johnson (SD)/Shelby) substitute amendment #2468 and Reid (for Pryor/Hoeven) amendment #2469 (residual risk) to Reid (for Johnson (SD)/Shelby) substitute amendment #2468. The rest of the amendment tree was filled with date changes.
    • The Senate is expected to take action on a Conference Report (Highway bill, Student Loan bill, and Flood Insurance bill) before it adjourns for the week.

Senator Reid: (9:32 AM)
  • Spoke on the Conference Report.
    • SUMMARY "I say to all my senators that we're going to finish this before we leave. I hope we can do it today. We certainly can if the will is there. Otherwise, if it takes tomorrow or whatever, we have to finish the bill. I know everyone has lots of things to do, but we have to finish this legislation. The student loan expires at the end of the month. The highway program has to be completed by the end of the month. The work that has been done has been hard. I met with the Democratic chairs yesterday at noon. I explained to everyone we were trying to work our way through this ... I explain to them we talk a lot about compromise being the - what legislation is all about. Legislation is the art of compromise, consensus building. But when it comes right down to doing that, it's hard for senators to give up things that they want. This is a bill that affects almost three million people. That is, just the transportation part of it. The flood part, seven million people. The student loan, seven million people. So, everyone had to give a little bit or we couldn't have gotten this done. I'm terribly disappointed in part of what didn't get done. I have always been a big fan of the land and water conservation fund. I don't have a better friend in the world than Ken Salazar. This is something he wanted so very, very much, but we couldn't get it done. So there is a lot of disappointment in many different areas, but this is legislation at its best, and I say that purposely. It's hard to get these pieces of legislation done, but we got it done, and as I said, we're going to work through the process. There can always be - with the Senate being such as it is, people can hold things up but they can't hold things up forever, so we're going to work through this. I think it's for the betterment of our country if we complete this legislation as quickly as possible."
  • Spoke on the Supreme Court's upcoming decision on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Today, the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the landmark health reform that made affordable quality care a right for every American. Millions of Americans are already seeing the benefits of this law. I repeat, millions of Americans. And Democrats are very proud that we stood up for the right of every man, woman and child for life-saving medical care instead of standing up for insurance companies that worry more about making money than making people better. The Supreme Court's decision, being a lawyer myself - and I know the presiding officer was the chief legal officer for the state of New Mexico, attorney general. When you have been in the area of law, a lawyer, whatever the court does, we accept that. That's our form of government. We're a nation of laws, not a nation of men, and so whatever the court does, we will work through that. If they uphold it, that's great. If they don't uphold it, uphold parts of it, whatever it is, we stand ready, willing and able to work to make sure that Americans do have the ability to get health care when they're sick. I look forward to the opinion coming out in the next half-hour or so, and we'll see what that holds."

Enzi, Reid, McConnell

Increased Payroll Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation bill (S. 2237)

Jun 28 2012 11:00 AM

Senator Enzi: (9:38 AM)
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "It has always been funded from a gas tax until now. And it's a prime example of what's about to happen in all of the bills that we do because we've run out of money and we haven't taken the necessary steps to solve it. When the bill came to the Finance Committee, I suggested that we ought to change the gas tax so that there was an inflationary rate added each year for the following year. That was the least that I could think of to do for highways. It would have added a half a cent a gallon. The price fluctuates at the pump more than half a cent a day. I have to tell you, I really thought there would be some strong support for doing something like that, taking a minimal step. I had the amendment revised so it could take into account that amount. The Simpson-Bowles Commission said - this was over a half year ago - that for the next three years, we need to raise the gas tax five cents per year for three years, so we really ought to be at 7.5 cents or 10 cents in increase already. Now, if we did that, the Highway bill could be funded from highway funds, and that's a user fee. If you drive, you buy gas. If you buy gas, you pay for the highways that you drive on. I have been talking about this ever since we started on the highway bill and I haven't had anybody say to me you're wrong. We shouldn't raise the gas tax. I was really surprised. I thought there would be a huge outcry and that I would be in a lot of trouble for suggesting a raise in the gas tax. But America understands better than Congress understands So where are we getting the money? Well, we did raise the tax on people that have pensions, and that's very important. There's a trust fund. The pension benefit guaranty corporation has a trust fund to see that if a company goes out of business and it had promised pensions, then the pension benefit guaranty corporation trust fund makes up part of that. They don't make up all of it but they make up part of it, so it's an insurance policy for people across America that have pensions. And we said that needs a little bit more of a jolt. So we did a couple of things. One of the things was to do some smoothing so companies wouldn't have to put quite as much money into the fund, and therefore they would maybe have more profit, and on the profit they would pay taxes and we can steal those taxes to put in the highway trust fund so that we can build the highways. Never done that before. Never done it to the pension benefit guaranty trust before, but this bill does that. And then there is another little bit of money that comes right out of that trust fund that goes into the Highway bill. That's the wrong way to do business. You cannot violate trust funds."

Senator Reid: (10:43 AM)
  • Spoke on the Supreme Court's ruling on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "I'm happy, I'm pleased to see the Supreme Court put the rule of law ahead of partisanship and ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. Now, this is a long opinion, and we know that when we come back here after the elections, there may be some things we need to do to improve the law and we'll do that working together, but today millions of Americans are already seeing the benefits of the law that we passed. Seniors are saving money on their prescriptions and checkups. Children can no longer be denied insurance because they have a preexisting condition. Protection that will soon extend to every American. No longer will American families be a car accident or a heart attack away from bankruptcy. Every Thursday, I have a welcome to Washington. Today they had a group of people from Nevada who have or have relatives that have cystic fibrosis. It's been so hard for these young people to get insurance. It's not going to be that way anymore. No longer will Americans live in fear of losing their health insurance because they lose a job. No longer will tens of millions of Americans rely on emergency room care or go without care entirely because they have no insurance at all ... Can afford and the vital care they need. Passing the Affordable Care Act was the greatest single step in generations toward ensuring access to affordable, quality health care for every person in America, regardless of where they live, how much money they make. Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress continue to target the rights and benefits guaranteed under this law. I'd like to give the power back to the insurance companies, the power of life and death back to the insurance companies, but our Supreme Court has spoken. The matter is settled. No one thinks this law is perfect. The presiding officer doesn't, I don't, but Democrats have proven we're willing to work with republicans to improve the problems that exist in this law or any other law. Millions of Americans are struggling to find work today and we know that. Our first priority must be to improve the economy. It's time, though, for republicans to stop refighting yesterday's battles. Now that this matter is settled, let's move on to other things, like jobs."

Senator McConnell: (10:53 AM)
  • Spoke on the Supreme Court's ruling on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "2 1/2 years ago, a Democratic president teamed up with a Democrat-led Congress to force a piece of legislation on the American people that they never asked for and that has turned out to be just as disastrous as many of us predicted. Amid economic recession, a spiraling federal debt and accelerated increases in government health spending, they proposed a bill that made all of those problems worse. Americans were promised lower health care costs. They're going up. Americans were promised lower premiums. They're going up. Most Americans were promised their taxes wouldn't change, and they're going up. Seniors were promised Medicare would be protected. It was raided to pay for a new entitlement instead. Americans were promised it would create jobs. The CBO predicts it will lead to nearly a million fewer jobs. Americans were promised they could keep their health plans if they liked it, yet millions have learned they can't. And the president of the United States himself promised up and down that this bill was not a tax. This was one of the Democrats' top selling points because they knew it would never have passed if they said it was a tax. Well, the Supreme Court has spoken. This law is a tax. The bill was sold to the American people on a deception. But it's not just that the promises about this law weren't kept. It's that it made the problems it was meant to solve even worse. The supposed cure has proven to be worse than the disease. So the pundits will talk a lot today about what they think today's ruling means and what it doesn't mean, but I can assure you of this: Republicans won't let up whatsoever in our determination to repeal this terrible law and replace it with the kind of reforms that will truly address the problems it was meant to solve. Now, look, we've passed plenty of terrible laws around here that the court finds constitutional. Constitutionality was never an argument to keep this law in place and it's certainly not one you'll hear from republicans in congress. There's only one way to truly fix Obamacare, only one way, and that's a full repeal. A full repeal that clears the way for commonsense, step-by-step reforms that protect Americans' access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, at a lower cost. And that's precisely what Republicans are committed to doing. The American people weren't waiting on the Supreme Court to tell them whether they supported this law. That question was settled 2 1/2 years ago. The more the American people have learned about this law, the less they have liked it. So now the court has ruled. It's time to move beyond the constitutional debate and focus on the primary reason this law should be fully repealed and replaced because of the colossal damage it has already done to our health care system, to the economy, and to the job market. The Democrat health care law has made things worse. Americans want it repealed and that's precisely what we intend to do. Americans want us to start over, and today's decision does nothing to change that. The court's ruling doesn't mark the end of the debate. It marks a fresh start on the road to repeal. That's been our goal from the start. That's our goal now, and we plan to achieve it. The president has done nothing to address the problems of cost, care, and access. We will."

Udall-NM, Cornyn, Harkin

Increased Payroll Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation bill (S. 2237)

Jun 28 2012 12:06 PM

Senator Udall-NM: (11:08 AM)
  • Paid tribute to Army Staff Sergeant Israeli Noanis, who died on May 12, 2012, while serving in Kandahar Province.
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "The Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act. But what we hear the call on the Republican side and the Affordable Care Act has moved us forward but the call on the Republican side is for full repeal of the law now. So their legislative objective, I guess, is going to be introduce a piece of legislation, we'll have a vote here on the floor for full repeal. And I just wanted to remind New Mexicans in particular what is at stake when we talk about full repeal. First of all, insurance companies today with the Affordable Care Act in place cannot deny coverage if you have a preexisting condition. That's something that's tremendously important to New Mexicans. If have you a young child that has cancer, and you have to get insurance, they can't deny it because of a preexisting condition. Now, there's no doubt that we can improve upon the law, but New Mexico has already received more than $200 million in grants and loans to establish insurance exchange, strengthen community health centers, train new health professionals, and so much more. And since passing the law, more than 26,000 young adults under 26 years old have been allowed to stay on their parents' insurance plans. Almost 20,000 New Mexico seniors on Medicare received a rebate to help cover prescription costs when they hit the doughnut hole in 2010. And 285,000 New Mexicans with private health insurance no longer have to pay a deductible or co-payment for preventive health care like physicals, cancer screenings, and vaccinations and more is yet to come under the Affordable Care Act."

Senator Cornyn: (11:49 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "This morning's decision by the United States Supreme Court has clarified some things. It has made other things more mottled. It has clarified the upcoming election of 2012. The only way to stop the overreaching of the federal government, including the president's flawed health care bill is to elect a new president and a Congress that will repeal and replace this fundamentally flawed law. Before the health care bill became law, the president repeatedly assured the American people that he would not raise taxes on the middle class. He declared emphatically that the individual mandate was "absolutely not a tax increase." But the Supreme Court of the United States has made absolutely clear that the only way Obamacare can be upheld as within the constitutional power of congress is for it to be considered a tax increase and a tax increase on every single American, regardless of income. The president also told us his health care law would reduce premiums by $2,500 for the average family. That was another broken promise. Last year the average American family with employer-sponsored insurance saw their premiums rise by $1,200. The case against this health care legislation is very simple. It relies on massive tax increases, job-killing regulations, and government coercion. It will place Washington bureaucrats between patients and their doctors, and it will cause millions of Americans to lose their current insurance co coverage. So much for, if you like it, you can keep it. And, as we now know, Obamacare has made the problem of rising health care costs worse, not better. So for these reasons and more, we need to repeal this entire piece of legislation and start over. We all share the goal of expanding health care coverage, but there are good ways and bad ways to do it. The authors of Obamacare chose a fundamentally flawed way, yet another government takeover. One of the more compelling things government has done is pass a bill under Medicare for prescription drug coverage for seniors. Rather than a government-run program, we created a marketplace for competition where prescription providers are compete for consumers' favor by improved cost or lowered cost and better service. And indeed by using the discipline, the cost discipline of a market, of a consumer-oriented approach to health care, that government program came in 40% under projected cost. Now, that's the only time that I know of in the health care field where the government has actually created a program that people like that's come in significantly under cost."

Senator Harkin: (11:55 AM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "This morning, the Supreme Court gave a resounding confirmation that the Affordable Care Act is indeed constitutional. Now, some have been saying that President Obama wins, the Democrats win or the Republicans lose, that kind of thing. I don't see it that way. What I see it as is a great victory for the American people, for the businesses of America, for our economy. That's what this is all about. It moves us forward so that every single American will have quality, affordable health care coverage, something we've never done in this country. That's why this is such a landmark bill and such a landmark decision by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court's decision allows us to move ahead, replacing what I've often called a sick care system, a system that will maybe get you to if you're lucky in the emergency room if you're sick but not one that gets to you before to keep you healthy. That's what the Affordable Care Act is moving towards, a system with more preventive health care, more promoting of wellness and keeping people healthy in the first place, by giving them the coverage that they can use to access preventable, affordable wellness and preventive health care. The Supreme Court has made it clear what we've known all along: that those who want to block this law and who are now clamoring to repeal it, they are on the wrong side of this one I think history has shown that every time we expand rights of people to certain basic things that people need in their lives that we become a stronger country, a more unified country, a better country, with more opportunity for all. For those of us who believe that quality, affordable health care is a right and not a privilege, this is a great victory."

Vitter, Whitehouse, Enzi, Durbin, Hutchison, Landrieu

Increased Payroll Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation bill (S. 2237)

Jun 28 2012 2:28 PM

Senator Vitter: (12:27 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "What it also means for the country and for the policy debate and for us in the Congress is at least two things, which I think are also very, very important. Number one, it means that if this is a tax, this is a massive tax increase on the middle class, which stands full square against the clear and repeated campaign promises of President Obama. So this is a huge tax increase now that it's a tax, completely against everything he ran on and what he ... It also means something separate that's very significant. It means that this is all about taxes and spending, it means a different Congress next year, hopefully led by a different president, can repeal all of that, including with a simple majority of votes in the senate through reconciliation. If this is all about a tax, if it's all taxes and spending, then it can all be undone through the reconciliation process. And, of course, that's significant for one reason and one reason only, because here in the senate, it means that lowers the requirement from 60 votes to a simple majority with a Republican president. That would be 50 votes plus the vice president as the tie breaker. So, my bottom line is simple ... It may be ruled constitutional. It's still a bad idea that is making things worse. It's putting an all-powerful federal government between the patient and his or her doctor, and it's costing us an enormous amount of money as individuals, as citizens, as a society, as a government that we clearly cannot afford. Many of us made those arguments during the original debate, but I think all of those arguments have been validated and are clearly more true and compelling in the months since Obamacare was passed. In particular, costs have been going through the roof, and the suggestion that this was going to save us money and not cost us extra money, even the suggestion, the argument has gone out the window. It's clear the opposite is true. Individual premiums have gone up as a result. Family premiums have gone up as a result. Cost to the federal government and society have gone up as a result. It's made the already staggering problem of health care costs worse and worse and worse. It's made health care for everyday Americans less and less affordable. And because of that, I certainly renew my commitment to work with others to fully repeal Obamacare."

Senator Whitehouse: (12:42 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare (personal stories).

Senator Enzi: (12:47 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "It is disappointing that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the new health care law. Just because it's constitutional doesn't mean it's the best policy, perfect policy or even good policy. And just because the court upheld the law does not change the fact that the American people have overwhelming concerns about it. Not all of it but a lot of it. In fact, the court affirmed that the new health care law is a massive tax increase on the American people. Congress must get serious about fixing our broken health care system. We can start by changing this misguided health care law that has divided the American people and failed to address rising health care costs. Congress should work together to make commonsense, step-by-step health reforms that can truly lower the cost of health care. I was pleased to see that the Supreme Court narrowed the Medicaid expansion because states can't afford them. Hardworking Americans are still struggling in this anemic economy and need real action to make health care more affordable. Reforms do not have to start here in Washington. Our nation-states are laboratories of democracy and can play a significant role in addressing the health care crisis in America. Governors are in a special position to understand the unique problems facing their states and fixing health care. Like most problems facing our nation, there cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution One of the most effective ways Congress can address the rising costs of health care is to focus on the way it's delivered as part of the nation's current cost-driven and ineffective patient care system. America's broken fee-for-service structure is driving our nation's health care system further downward and tackling this issue is a good start to reining in the rising health care costs. What is fee-for-service? This method of payment encourages providers to see as many patients and prescribe as many treatments as possible but does nothing to reward providers who help keep patients healthy. These misaligned incentives drive up costs and hurt patient care. The new health care law championed by President Obama and congressional Democrats did very little to address these problems. The legislation instead relied on a massive expansion of unsustainable government price controls found in that fee-for-service program."

Senator Durbin: (1:41 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "What we tried to do with the affordable care act was twofold. First, to expand the reach of health insurance coverage to more families, and second, to make health insurance itself more affordable and more reasonable. Let me start with this question of affordable and reasonable health insurance. Like my family, many families have children with a problem These are children which need special care, and many times families when they turn and ask for health insurance were turned away. Well, that's not fair, and it's not what we need in America. We need health insurance to protect those families, and that's one of the major provisions in the Affordable Care Act. Secondly, many people don't realize until it's too late that their old health insurance policies had lifetime limits, there was only so much money that the health insurance would pay. And people got into challenging medical situations with expensive health care needed, only to learn in the midst of their chemotherapy their health insurance was finished, walked away. We changed that in affordable health care. We eliminated the lifetime limits for that very reason. We also said that the health care companies should be entitled to a profit and of course should charge a premium to cover the cost of their administration of health care. But we started drawing limits to what they could ask. 85% of the money collected in premiums needed to be paid into actual health care. The other 15% is available for marketing, for administration, for executive compensation. But 85% had to go into actual cost of health care, hoping to keep premiums from rising too fast. That was in the Affordable Health Care Act. We went on to say that when it came to coverage, we detected a problem. Too many families had their sons and daughters graduating from college, looking for jobs and not finding full-time jobs with health insurance. So we expanded family health care coverage to include children - young men and women - through the age of 25. We said, we should be able to keep them under the family health care plan while they're getting their lives together and looking for work. That was one of the basics that was included in the Affordable Health Care Act. All of those things, I think, make it more affordable and more reasonable for the families that need it. Then came the question of what to do about those people who have no health insurance. Some people don't have health insurance because they work at a job that doesn't provide it and they can't afford it. Others have an opportunity to get it but they say they're going to wait. You hear that particularly from young people who think they're invincible. So the question was, how do we expand the reach of health insurance coverage? And we did it in this bill. We set a standard and said, you should not have to pay anything more than 8% of your income for health insurance premiums, and if you're in the lower-income categories, we will help you, help with tax credits and treatment in the tax code to pay for your health insurance. For your employer, the business you work forks we'll give them additional - the business you work for, we'll give them additional tax credits, hoping to expand that pool of insured people ... For the poorest of poor, we said ultimately you'll be covered by Medicaid, a government health insurance plan, and for at least the first several years, the federal government will pay the entire cost - the expanded cost of that coverage. The notion is to get more and more people under the tent, under the umbrella of coverage. That not only gives them peace of mind, but it also means for many hospitals and providers across America, there will be fewer charity patients."

Senator Hutchison: (1:57 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "We have had a monumental decision from the Supreme Court of the United States, and I have to say, I am disappointed because, while the opinion is not very clear in many respects, the result is clear. And that is that we are getting ready to see one of the largest tax increases in the history of our country. Because we're all talking about the fact that the Supreme Court has declared the Obama health care plan constitutional, but let's look at how it was declared unconstitutional. It was not based on the commerce powers of the United States Congress and the constitution; it was based, instead, on taxing capabilities, the taxing power of the United States Congress. Now, I want to read an excerpt from an interview that George Stephanopoulos did with President Obama. Under this mandate, Stephanopoulos says, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don't. How is that not a tax? President Obama replies "no, that's not true, George. For us to say that you've got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase." Stephanopoulos goes on later to say, "but you reject that it is a tax increase?" President Obama replies, "I absolutely reject that notion." And yet the court today said, this is constitutional because of Congress's power to tax. So we're going to see the tax increase go forward, and the small businesses and the businesses that are looking at this, the individuals, are going to have a whopping increase in the cost of doing business. At a time when I certainly don't have to point out that we are in an economic downturn, when the private sector is not hiring, we have an over 8% unemployment rate. Yet now we see more costs on top of what we already have in this country, and I don't think that is the recipe for getting this country going again and hiring people to work."

Senator Landrieu: (2:12 PM)
  • Spoke on the Flood Insurance bill.
    • SUMMARY "Right now with FEMA, FEMA basically says, if you are in a velocity zone, you can't rebuild This means likely to be flooded, not just based on their elevations but the way the historical patterns of storms coming out of the gulf affects them. And I understand that we have to be very, very careful in these areas, so I had an amendment to say, no, you can rebuild, but you have to build up to the right elevation. Or you have to rebuild according to you know, the highest standards. If we don't fix this and this bill passes, which it looks like it will, there are going to be grave concerns or questions, if not a downright prohibition, on building in these areas regardless of whether you pay insurance or not. This is not right. The other amendment that I was prepared to offer is an affordability amendment. People may not realize this and I hope that the members will be listening again, this bill affects all the states, affects all of the states. But in the underlying bill, there is a provision that allows these rates for everyone in the country to be increased by 15% a year. Now, people are really struggling to pay flood insurance now. I think that's very steep. People that are arguing for the 15% a year increase say that it is important to get this program actuarially sound. It is currently running a $20 billion deficit. I am well- aware of the need to get this program in line, but I was going to offer an amendment that simply created and expanded a small but important affordability provision of $10 million that the department would have to help people on fixed incomes or lower, middle-income families that of course are working along the gulf coast and in some of these coastal areas. They're not sunbathing, not vacationing. This is not about secondary homes. This is about primary homes. They have generations living near the coast, either fishermen, etc. This is a very important issue. Flood insurance is not just about business and commerce. It is about culture, it is about a way of life, it is about preserving coastal communities, it is about being resilient in storms The only positive thing that I can say about the bill - and there are some positive things - and this is important I know to the realtors - I support them almost 100%, and the homebuilders - they've got a very good record with the realtors and homebuilders, and I believe in what they do and they're right when they say we have to have a permanent extension because we can't close deals. People can't sell their homes. We have to have this insurance program, and they are correct. And so, like a lot of things up here, it's a balance. With the amendments that I was going to put on the bill and actually had worked out to do so, on balance, the bill would have been better, and I was prepared to vote for it on the floor. Now that it's being stuck into this package without the debate on the floor and without the amendments, I must go on record to say that I would vote against the bill in its current form, even though I know we need long-term flood insurance. Because of the increased rates, the lack of the affordability, and the lack of the fix to the v-zones, I think that it justice the balance against the bill generally. There's nothing I can do about it."

Rubio, Johanns, Lee, Mikulski, Cardin

Increased Payroll Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation bill (S. 2237)

Jun 28 2012 3:51 PM

Senator Rubio: (2:36 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Let's reminded ourselves when we talk about a mandate, this is not a mandate that the government provides you insurance. This is a mandate that you find insurance yourself. And for a mandate to work and this is by admissions of anyone who has ever been for a mandate, they will admit this to you, that for the mandate to work, the penalty for not buying insurance has to be severe enough so that you will decide to buy the insurance. Otherwise, people will just pay the fine and not get the insurance. So what does this mean in the real world? Well, first of all, what it means in the lives - I found a blog post from 2009. The numbers may have changed a little bit, I'm not 100% sure, but this is what when the House was deliberating at the time an economist took this up on July 14, 2009, and he actually used a couple of real-world examples. This may be very similar to you, so listen carefully. The first example he used is of a gentleman, single, earns about $50,000 a year, which is four times the federal poverty level, so he wouldn't qualify for the subsidies under the bill. Now, he's single, 50-year-old nonsmoker, small business employee. That means he works for a small business that doesn't provide health insurance and isn't required to because the law requires businesses that have more than 50 employees to provide insurance. Let's say he works at a place that has five employees. They are not required to offer you health insurance. So he is 50 years old, he works at a small business that is not required to offer you insurance, he makes $50,000 a year before taxes. He doesn't have insurance. Now, he cannot afford a bare-bones policy. This economist went through e e-health insurance.com and he found that the cheapest policy he could find was about $1,600 a year. $50,000, when you take out taxes, depending on where you live, all these sorts of things, it doesn't add up to a lot of money. This is middle class. He can't afford a 1,600-dollar a year policy. So instead he would have to pay a $1,150 fine, which is a tax. That's what he would have to pay. Guess what? Even after paying the $1,100, he still doesn't have insurance. This is the real-world impact of the mandate. Here's another example. This one actually uses my home state so I picked this one. A married couple, two kids. They have a small business, they run a tourist shop in Orlando, Florida. I'm not sure if this is a real person or a hypothetical, but I like the fact that they picked Orlando, Florida, so let's use that. Small tourist shop in Orlando, Florida. Their small business, husband and wife, $90,000 a year. That's what it makes. Again, before taxes. You have a small business, $90,000, between all the expenses you have and all the other tax components that come up. It's middle class. This is middle class, okay? Two employees. But their wages exceed the amounts that would qualify for the small business tax credit. So because their business is so small, there would be no financial penalty for the business that only has two employees, but as individuals they still have to buy health insurance for themselves and for their families. So here they are, husband and wife, 40 years old, two kids, they own the small tourist shop, they are the only employees making $90,000 a year together. The cheapest insurance they can get is a high-deductible plan, about $6,000 a year of annual deductible. That cost them about $3,800 a year. The fine is $2,000 a year. So that's probably what they end up having to do now. This is a $2,000 increase in their taxes through a fine, and they still don't have insurance to show for it. This is a third example I want to give you, and this one is not part of the analysis, but I pointed out to you the fact that the law now requires any business with more than 50 employees, full-time employees to offer health insurance. Now, offering health insurance is a good thing. We should try to encourage that and provide opportunities for business to do it, but imagine if you're one of these businesses now and you're asking yourself I wonder if I should hire the 51st employee or the 55th employee? Should I grow my business? Well, as a result of this new mandate, maybe you decide not to now. How much will this cost us? It's $2,000 per employee if we don't comply. How much will this cost us? Maybe this is not the year to add a few jobs. Even worse, maybe they will decide you know what? Maybe we should become a part-time business ... This would be a bad idea no matter what the economy is, because now you're discouraging them from growing their business. No matter what our economy looked like, this would be a bad idea."

Senator Johanns: (2:37 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "While we've waited over two years for the final decision about this law's constitutionality, we haven't had to wait that long to learn why the law is bad for America. The law was a train wreck from the very beginning. Back-room deals, empty promises, political tactics that epitomize what disgusts Americans about their government. Some of the law's leading supporters even admitted that they hadn't read the 2,700-page bill. The Speaker acknowledged that we're going to have to pass the law to see what's in it. My colleagues across the aisle hastily passed the bill on the notion that there were some gold nuggets in there tucked inside the law and that maybe Americans would think that they were lucky enough to cash in. Well, we've come to know that nothing, nothing could be further from the truth. After more than two years, there's been a lot of rain but not a single rainbow and certainly no pot of gold when it comes to this legislation. Instead, what we have seen is one broken promise after another. Just last week, the administration's own Medicare actuary reported national health spending will increase at an average of more than 50% over the next decade. The same analysis estimated in 2014 the increase in private health insurance premiums is expected to accelerate to 7.9%. But the startling fact is that's more than twice the increase Americans would have faced in the absence of the health care law. This is just one of many studies that indicate the law does not bend the cost curve down as the president promised. It begs the basic question: why would, why would Congress pass a massive overhaul of our country's health care system that actually increases the cost of care? It's so ironic that the majority decided to call this health care law the Affordable Care Act. You can hardly argue that more people will receive better care under a plan that drives costs upward and also puts Medicare on an unsustainable path. The Medicare actuary asserted in the most recent trustee's report that the law could lead to significant access issues for beneficiaries under Medicare, and Medicare itself is estimated to be insolvent by 2024. Due to the cuts to Medicare in the health care law, he said "the prices paid by Medicare for health services are very likely to fall increasingly short of the cost of providing those services." He goes on to say - "severe problems with beneficiary access to care" will occur. Well, that's just another way of saying, to put it very directly and simply, our seniors are going to find it harder and harder to find a doctor or a hospital that will accept them as patients. To put it simply, our seniors are going to have difficulty accessing medical care under this law. The health care law perpetuates the problems within this very, very difficult system. It is clear heavy-handed government solutions aren't the answer, but that's exactly what this law creates. In this law, there are 159 new boards, over 13,000 pages of new regulations, and it gives the secretary of health and human services more than 1,700 new or expanded powers. No one will convince me that that isn't a seizure of our government, of our health care system and putting it under the power of government."

Senator Lee: (3:16 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "The Supreme Court was able to uphold the constitutionality of the mandate only by a series of gymnastics that allowed the court to find that this was a tax. First, the court addressed the issue and concluded for only the third time in the last 75 years - only the third time since 1937 - that Congress had in fact exceeded its power as asserted under the commerce clause of the U.S. constitution. Having concluded that Congress lacks the authority to compel commerce, the creation of commerce, so that it could then regulate commerce, the Supreme Court went on to shoehorn this individual mandate provision into the supreme court's conception of Congress's taxing power. This awkward construction is one that exposes many of the true flaws of the individual mandate. The mandate itself, we must remember, was not wildly popular among the American people at the time it was enacted. It has become even less popular as the American people have come to understand it. A recent poll revealed that roughly 74% of Americans don't like the individual mandate. This is easily for us to understand when you think about the fact that we, as Americans, were born as free people. It offends our most basic sense of freedom to have one of the most personal decisions made for us by government, particularly by the impersonal, distant government that's based in Washington, DC. These kinds of decisions should be made by individuals and families in consultation with their doctors, not by government bureaucrats in Washington, DC. So the fact that it's unpopular doesn't surprise us. And given the fact that the Supreme Court was able to uphold the individual mandate, only by calling it a tax, is significant. It's especially significant given the fact that it was pitched to the American people as something other than a tax. The president promised us he would not raise our taxes. He promised us that the individual mandate did not amount to a tax increase. He promised us all along that he would never raise the taxes of any American earning less than $250,000 a year. Well, those who participated in Congress, who voted for this provision, also promised us that this would not amount to a tax increase. They did so for one simple reason: they knew it couldn't pass. They knew it wouldn't be able to get the number of votes necessary to make it become law if they called it a tax. So they didn't. They went to great lengths to make sure that it wasn't described or characterized or structured as a tax within the text of the statute itself. Now, after the fact, the Supreme Court has taken the step of shoehorning this regulation into Congress's taxing authority, and it's calling it a tax, effectively insulating those members of Congress who voted for it. It's not just any tax contrary, but a tax increase that the joint tax that will be borne by hardworking, middle-income workers. They've concluded that over 75% of the burden associated with this thing that has now been deemed a tax will be paid by those earning less than $250,000 a year. It was unpopular before we were told it would be deemed a tax. Now that it's a tax, we can't expect that its status as a tax will enhance its popularity. If anything, we can expect that it will become even less popular with the American people."

Senator Mikulski: (3:26 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Our nation's highest court has made it clear that no matter who you are, a man or a woman, a senior facing cancer, a child with juvenile diabetes, you will have health care that's available, reliable, and undeniable. Health care reform has achieved many goals that the American people wanted us to do. One, expanding universal access. Now 32 million people will have health care that they didn't have before. Second, it breaks the stranglehold of insurance companies, ending their punitive practices, particularly in those areas of preexisting conditions where they denied health care because a child might have autism or asthma or for women they had a particular approach where they charged us more, 30% more, and then they simply treated a woman as being a preexisting condition. Sometimes being a victim of domestic violence was considered a preexisting condition. We ended that program we also saved and strengthened Medicare and we exercised prevention, early detection and screening that will saving lives, improve lives and also save money. I'm proud of what we did in congress with the universal coverage. For the first time in our history, we are committed to covering every single American with health care. And it helps young families, families be able to look out for their children. It helps young adults - recently graduated from college - some looking for a job, some working in start-ups where there's no health insurance, because of health care reform, 52,000 young adults in Maryland will have coverage on their parents' policy while they go back to school, look for a job, or get that entrepreneurial spirit going. Then there's these punitive practices of the insurance company We've stopped them from denying family health insurance. We stopped insurance companies from denying children's coverage and congress ended, as I said, the discrimination against women."

Senator Cardin: (3:43 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "As a result of that decision, we're going to find that $10.7 billion has been recovered already today by dealing with waste, fraud and abuse in the Medicare system. We'll be able to continue with those programs that make our health care system more affordable. We'll be able to continue health care coverage for those between the ages of 19-25 that are now on their parents' health insurance policy. 3.1 million young adults have benefited from that provision of the Affordable Care Act that was upheld by the Supreme Court today. 17 million children with preexisting conditions can no longer be denied coverage by their insurers. That provision is now safe as a result of the Supreme Court decision. 5.3 million Americans on Medicare saved on average $600 ... The so-called doughnut hole on prescription drug coverage for our seniors. In upholding the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court allows us to continue to make sure that that coverage gap is eliminated. 70,000 Americans with preexisting conditions now have the security to know that their coverage is safe. In addition, in 2011, 32.5 million seniors received one or more free preventative services. So far in 2012, 14 million seniors have already received these services. The expansion of benefits in Medicare that was under the Affordable Care Act, providing the wellness exam, eliminating the co-payments on preventative health services, that will also now be safe and our seniors will continue to be able to enjoy those benefits. On the doughnut hole that I already mentioned, the coverage gap on prescription drugs will save $3.7 billion for 5.2 million seniors for an average of $651. This is real money. This is the difference between some seniors being able to take their medicines or having to leave them on the pharmacist's desk. That is now also protected. Insurance companies will provide almost 13 million Americans with over a billion dollars in rebates in 2012. We put into the health care reform proposals protections against excessive premiums by private insurance companies. Well, that's going to save the consumers in America over a billion dollars. 105 million Americans no longer will have lifetime limits on their coverage. Insurance should be there that protects you. Before the Affordable Care Act, we had limits that may not have covered your extraordinary costs, your catastrophic costs. We now have that protection as a result of the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court upholding that decision today. It's also important for small businesses, small businesses, 360,000, took advantage of the tax credit that helps small companies afford to buy health insurance for their employees, and when we fully implement this bill in 2014, small companies will enjoy the same larger pools and lower premiums that larger companies enjoy today in covering their employees. That today is helping cover around two million workers."

Lautenberg, Graham, Inhofe

Increased Payroll Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation bill (S. 2237)

Jun 28 2012 4:43 PM

Senator Lautenberg: (4:00 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "A little more than two years ago we heard the call of Americans struggling to pay for health care, parents who had to choose between keeping their children healthy and putting food on the table, and seniors who couldn't afford lifesaving medications. And so we passed and President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act. And already millions of Americans are reaping the benefits of this law. Thanks to health reform, insurers can no longer deny people coverage for a preexisting condition. If someone has cancer or some other longtime sickness, they can't deny people coverage if they are already sick from these conditions. Up to 17 million children with preexisting conditions are already benefiting from this condition, from this provision. Under the Affordable Care Act insurance companies are prohibited from canceling coverage when people are sick, and more than three million people in my state, New Jersey, no longer have a lifetime limit on their health insurance coverage. Today, millions of seniors are already receiving free preventive health services and are saving an average of $600 a year on prescription drugs. It's not just seniors who are seeing lower costs. Almost two million New Jerseyans with private insurance now receive preventive health services at no additional cost. For women these service include cancer screenings like pap smears and mammograms, and since the 1950's - it's amazing - cervical cancer screenings have cut mortality rates by more than 70%. Think about that. 70%. Of the people who are alive now who otherwise would have died if they didn't have the coverage. Young people have benefited as well. More than 73,000 young adults in New Jersey obtained health coverage last year through their parents' insurance plans. And this has brought their parents peace of mind knowing that their children who may have just graduated from school and are making their way in the world, will be covered with insurance if they need it."

Senator Graham: (4:24 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "Members of Congress during the debate on Obama health care had a very passionate, heated debate, which is part of democracy, and, as I recall the debate, when people on our side suggested that this is a tax increase, that all the fines and costs associated with the health care bill would be a massive tax increase, our friends on the other side, almost to a person, said, no, this is not a tax increase. And President Obama assured the American people during the debate that the fine is not a tax. I think the reason that was so is because if we debated this bill and the only way you could pass the bill is using the power of congress to tax under the constitution, there would not have been ten votes for the legislation. Nobody would have wanted to have gone home and say, I just increased your taxes by billions of dollars over the next ten years to fix health care, because I think most Americans believe our health care in this country needs to be reformed and in many ways broken, needs to be fixed. But there are very few people in this country who believe we don't tax enough, and that's the problem with health care. That's not the problem. The problem with health care is not the lack of how much we tax you; it's the lack of choices you have and the competition when it comes to purchasing health care. Many of us want to give a chance to buy health care outside the state in which you are live. Many of us believe that reform will lower costs. I'd like to give individuals the same tax write-off as businesses have when it comes to purchasing health care, and I'm willing to help those who don't have the money to buy health care to be able to buy health care in the private sector. I'm willing to do a lot of things, but I'm not willing to impose a massive tax increase to fix health care. Also I don't think it's fair for people in the body during the debate on a bill to say, this is not a tax increase. Vote for the bill and wind up having to be told by the court, the only way this is legal is for it to be a tax increase. So here's my challenge: to every member of the Democratic party who said this wasn't a tax increase when we debated the bill, I'm asking you now if you did not want to increase taxes when we fixed health care, repeal this bill and work with me and others to find a way to fix health care. If after the Supreme Court ruling you're still okay with the legislation, just be honest enough to go back home and say, I raised your taxes to fix health care because I thought that was the right thing to do and now that we know it's really a tax, what are we going to do about it? Are we going to leave in place the largest tax increase in modern history to fix health care or are we going to be smart enough, wise enough and courageous enough to start over again? I hope we're wise enough, courageous enough and smart enough to start over and this time do it in a way where it will truly be bipartisan. The worst possible outcome for the American people is for the congress to pass legislation that affects 1/5 or 1/6 of the economy, telling you that this is not a tax, and at the end of the day, that's the only way the law can stand is for it to be a tack. So I hope that between now and the election, we can have another debate about health care and all those who stand by this product, you need to tell your constituents I believe in this product and I'm willing to tax you in a large way to make it happen. If we had that debate to begin this, this bill would have never passed and we would have worked together. Second chances are hard to get in life. Congress now has a second chance."

Senator Inhofe: (4:36 PM)
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "The conservative vote on this is to vote for the Highway Reauthorization bill that's going to be coming up to us. Hopefully it will be here tonight and it's going back and forth between the House and the Senate. The conferees, I believe, most of them already signed off on this bill, so it's coming up, it's been a long time in the making. I'm very excited about it. And let me also say that while I take the position that the conservative vote is to vote for the authorization bill, for the highway bill, I'm not alone in this feeling."

Coats, Reed, Reid

Increased Payroll Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation bill (S. 2237)

Jun 28 2012 5:48 PM

Senator Coats: (4:43 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "We've had two years to examine this and we've seen it, parts of it being played out with more to come. And what we've learned I think is that this bill is fatally flawed, that it ought to be repealed. It doesn't mean that we don't have health care issues that we should deal with but we need to deal with this in a bipartisan way that's better explained to the American people, that's cost affordable. It's labeled the Affordable Care Act and it's anything but affordable. At a time of deep recession, at a time of over a period of the last two or three years of a stagnant economy, this is adding a burden of regulation and taxation that is working against our coming out of this deep hole of economic distress. Americans found out what was in this bill and it reaffirmed I think many of their deep concerns about going forward with a plan that tries to wrap up the entire U.S. health care system in one big ball, 2,700 pages worth of rules and regulations and taxes and impositions and mandates and said that this is not - we want reform of our health care, we want to make it more affordable, we want to make it more accessible. But letting Washington essentially decide how to go forward with that without giving flexible to the states and flexibility to the states and flexibility to the private sector to initiate reforms clearly was what - not what the American people, or at least the majority of the American people, were looking for. Despite the promises that were made about the impact of this bill by those who authored it and by the president, middle-class Americans have found that the health care law is a massive tax. And, of course the court reaffirmed that today. This is not just a penalty, this is a massive tax on working Americans. And not just the rich. It's on the middle class and it's on every American taxpayer and this, even though the president has famously now on every YouTube and every nation that's discussing the health care system, his quotes insisting that this was not a tax on the middle class or a tax on any Americans. Families have found out that their insurance premiums are going up, not down, as was promised by those who supported this bill and authored this bill. Seniors have found out that they may not be able to keep the insurance plan that they have and want and could lose access to Medicare advantage. Medicare advantage, a program that many seniors have enrolled in and found to be successful in addressing their health care needs at a reasonable cost. Business owners found out that they would be fined $2,000 per employee if they failed to provide workers with a health care insurance plan approved by Uncle Sam."

Senator Reed: (4:56 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "For the first time in our history, parents can, with some confidence, trust that whatever lies ahead, their child at least will have access to affordable health care. We couldn't say that with any confidence years ago, even two years ago when we undertook this legislative activity. And this law has already benefited many people in Rhode island. Individuals, families and businesses. Children up to age 26 are able to remain on their parents' health insurance plan. In Rhode island, this has benefited an estimated 9,000 young adults and their families. Over 15,000 Rhode island seniors have saved a total of $14 million on prescription drugs since the law was enacted, an average to close to $600 annually. Seniors will continue to save on their drug costs until the existing coverage gap is closed and will continue to have access to free preventive care, like annual wellness visits and screening. Rhode islanders can now expect rebates if an insurance company spends too much on administrative costs and CEO bonuses instead of on their health care. For too long, health care companies, health insurance companies got away with increasing premiums and decreasing coverage which resulted in higher costs and unfair practices. Beginning in 2014, Rhode Islanders will be able to purchase health insurance on a new exchange, a single point of entry where they can evaluate the cost and coverage of health insurance options. They will, indeed, for the first time for many Rhode Islanders have a real choice for the health care that they receive, the insurance that they purchase. And according to Families U.S.A., 97,000 Rhode Islanders will have access to tax credits to make their coverage more affordable."
  • Spoke on the Student Loan bill.
    • SUMMARY "We have to address the rising cost of college. The cost of attending college has increased by 559% since 1985. 559%. Rising far faster than costs for gasoline, health care, and other consumer items. Keeping student loans affordable and interest rates low is one part of the solution. Providing more grant aid through Pell grants and other programs is another. We need to call on institutions to do their part to keep costs in check. Yes, the college community has to rally around and has to think of innovative ways to provide excellent education at a lower cost, a more affordable cost. States have to play a role, too. When state support for higher education goes down, tuition goes up and the crisis of so many states, real crises, difficult crises, has forced them to reduce their support for higher education. And the result as I suggest, has been tuitions climb, and that's another burden that middle America and middle-income families are bearing. I look forward to working with my colleagues on developing a comprehensive approach to addressing the issues. And also to just say that I hope that we are on the verge at least for the next year avoiding a doubling of interest rates on student loans. We've got a long way to ensure that every American with talent and drive and the skills has the means to go to college. This is an important first step. There are many more that we must take and i hope we do that very quickly."

Senator Reid: (5:30 PM)
  • Spoke on the Conference Report.
    • SUMMARY "I talked to the CBO today. They didn't get the information that they started scoring until 4:00 a.m. this morning. They're doing their best and moving forward. As all agreements, things come up. At this point, everything appears to be just right. The committees of jurisdiction, as I have indicated, worked through all these matters. They have completed drafting a revised version of the conference report. So we expect this to be filed momentarily. It could have already been filed. But what we have done many, many times is we vote on what the House has filed before they pass it. We have done it many, many times here. It's very standard procedure here. Right now, we don't have permission, consent, from all the senators to do that. That could be forthcoming, and I will report back to the senate within the hour, the next hour to find out whether or not we can finish this work tonight or do we have to come back tomorrow. So everyone stay tuned. As I have indicated, everything to this point I can't express enough appreciation to everyone, Democrats, Republicans and the House and the Senate. This has been truly as I laid out to my chairman's yesterday at the lunch I had, this is really an example of what legislation is all about. It's compromise. And compromise is really - sounds good. Legislation is the art of compromise until you are faced as a senator with something you may not get because of the overall good of the bill, but sometimes we have to understand that you have to give things up to the betterment of this country. We cannot let perfect be the enemy of good, and so everyone understands that to this point. I hope we get things done tonight. We'll know within the next hour. I will report back in the next hour as to whether we finish tonight sometime or come back tomorrow."

Durbin, Boxer, Sessions

Increased Payroll Tax Credit and Bonus Depreciation bill (S. 2237)

Jun 28 2012 7:03 PM

Senator Durbin: (6:43 PM)
  • Spoke on political prisoners in foreign countries.

Senator Boxer: (6:07 PM)
  • Spoke on the Highway bill.
    • SUMMARY "The great news about the bill that's coming out of the Conference Committee is that it's a jobs bill. First and foremost, it is going to save about a million - almost two million jobs that are currently held in the private sector, and it will create up to a million new jobs through an expanded TIFIA program. TIFIA is a program that fronts the funds for local governments who have a revenue stream, and the leverage on that is about 30-1. So if you have an approximately billion dollars amendment, you'll get $30 billion of economic activity. So that's a really, really good thing that we can all be proud of, that is a fact. The bill that we have coming, we hope soon - it's not here yet, it's not done yet, but it's close - and what we hope we will have before us is a bill that creates 2.9 million ... We protect almost two million jobs that are currently held in the private sector, and we will create up to a million. Hence the three million jobs that are relying on this bill ... The Senate brought a package together that took the 90 programs down to 30, and that pretty much survived the Conference Committee, and we also did some more reforms, certainly on project delivery, because all sides agreed it is taking too long to get some of these public works projects done. It's taking sometimes 15 years, 14 years, 13 years to do a road from start to finish, to do a bridge. We need to make sure that we can move faster because our economy needs that. But still, in my view, protect the rights of citizens throughout this country to ensure that their communities are taken care of, that there's no damage to their communities, that the air quality is protected, the water quality is protected, and we were able to keep those environmental laws there while we were tough on deadlines and milestones and very tough to say this is it you can't finish in this time and we're trying to get this from 15 years to eight years per project, if you don't do that, you have to explain why. There has to be a really good reason why these projects will be delayed. I believe the funding in the bill is fair. Every single state is protected. Every single state. And this is a two-year, three-month bill. Every state will get the amount of money they got last year, plus inflation. And that's very, very important. So it is - the current level of funding with the inflation put in. And every state can now know, if and when this bill passes, that they can count on that funding for two years and three months. Everything is paid for."
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "It's also a day that President Obama will forever remember, where the centerpiece of his work was upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court. We all know we cannot go back to the days when people with preexisting conditions suffered and couldn't get insurance. We just can't go back to the days when women, being a woman was considered a preexisting condition and it was impossible for her to get insurance. We can't go back to the days when kids were thrown off their parents' health insurance at 18. We can't go back to the days when seniors were going broke having to choose between a drug that was lifesaving or having the dinner that night."

Senator Sessions: (6:33 PM)
  • Spoke on Obamacare.
    • SUMMARY "I believe the health care bill cannot be justified as written and will have to be changed. It will have to be repealed. We have to start over. It's just that simple. As ranking member of the Budget Committee, I began to look the numbers we've had and our team is going to redouble it's effort this the weeks to come so we can know precisely how much this legislation will cost, and as that becomes more and more understood by the American people, it will become clear we do not have the money to pass the bill. I know a lot of people are confident that it will undermine the right of an individual American to see the doctor of their choice, despite the president's protestations, even I believe, today. You will not be able to continue to keep your insurance, at least all people will not be able to. And there will be other different problems. There's a real concern that under the legislation, the quality of health care will go down. And I believe that's accurate for a lot of reasons, and people like Dr. Barrasso and Dr. Coburn have explained that in great detail. But as a member of the Budget Committee, I wanted to share some thoughts about the financing of the legislation, to raise the issue of why we cannot go forward with it. The president promised the American people before a joint session of Congress right down the hall in the House chamber "now add it all up and the plan I'm proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years." $900 billion is a lot of money. There is no doubt about that. But he said that's how much it would cost over a ten-year period. And as we all have learned, that was a gimmicked-up number. It was fundamentally if I am gimmicked up as a result of the fact - it was fundamentally gimmicked up as a result of the fact of the cost of the bill where it begins to pay out money and have real cost and the implementation of the bill was delayed for ten years. So you take a ten-year window and the bill is only going to be out there for six of those ten years and announce it's only going to cost $900 but that's not the right question. Is it? The right question for the American people to actually understand the impact of the legislation would be to ask how much would it cost over the first ten years of full implementation? That's what you should be asking. We all know that, and so the numbers have come in on that. Under the CBO estimate, strictly adhering only to the insurance portion of the bill, I believe they came in as saying not $900 billion but $1.4 trillion would be the cost over the first ten years. But the true cost of the health care bill is yet higher still. A complete and honest assessment of the cost of the president's health care bill would include a full ten years of spending, starting in 2014. Adding up CBO's estimates for the different provisions in the bill, the president's health care bill will amount to at least $2.6 trillion, not $900 billion - three times - almost three times the estimated cost over the true ten-year period."

Jun 28 2012 7:36 PM

Senator Reid: (7:21 PM)
  • Spoke on the Conference Report.
    • SUMMARY "The Conference Report has been filed. As I said earlier today, I appreciate very much the work of everyone, including our very, very hardworking staff on both sides of the capitol. But there's no need for us to wait anymore. We're not going to finish this tonight. We're going to have to come back tomorrow. I've talked to a number of people, and I wanted to make sure before anything was announced that the papers had been filed, and they have been. We have a number of issues that we're trying to work through procedurally, and we're not going to be able to do that tonight. I'm not going to be passing blame on anyone, because we all have a lot to do tomorrow, a lot of things that we are going to have to put on hold. This is a very big work period for us the next ten days. But I think it's appropriate to say we'll be back at 10:00 in the morning to finish this legislation. To do it as quickly as possible. We don't know what time the Senate going to vote on this - I'm sorry. I don't know what time the House is going to vote on this tomorrow. But we may have to wait on them. We've done our best to try to complete things tonight but we're not going to be able do that. I am disappointed."
  • Performed Wrap Up --
  • Tomorrow --
    • The Senate will convene at 10:00 AM and Majority Leader Reid will be recognized.
    • The Conference Report has been filed in the House and the Senate is expected to take action on the Conference Report (Highway bill, Student Loan bill, and Flood Insurance bill) during tomorrow's session.
The Senate stands adjourned until 10:00 AM Thursday, June 29th.