McConnell: Americans are Sending a Clear Message on Health Care: ‘Repair the system we’ve got’

‘Over the past few months, Americans have been saying they’ve had enough of spending, debt, and government expansion. How are Democrats in Washington responding? By trying to rush through another trillion-dollar bill that Americans don’t even want and can’t afford’

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday regarding the importance of getting it right on health care reform:

“The debate over health care continues to be a top concern for most Americans. But it’s important to realize that this debate isn’t taking place in a vacuum. It’s taking place in the context of a nation that’s increasingly concerned about the size and scope of government.

“Over the past year, Americans have seen the government take over automakers and insurance companies. They’ve seen government spend hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out banks and other financial institutions. They’ve seen government run up unprecedented debt.

“And now they see government trying to take over health care.

“If the White House wants an explanation for all the unrest it’s witnessing across the country, to all the worry and concerns that Americans have about its health care plan, this is a crucial piece.

“Democrats in Washington may see all these government programs and interventions as individual events. But to most Americans who are weathering a recession, it seems like every time they pick up a newspaper or turn on the television, Democrats in Washington are pushing another trillion dollar bill or calling for more spending, more taxes, and more debt.

“That’s why people are becoming more vocal, and that’s why they’ve been delivering a consistent message for weeks: No more government takeovers; no more spending money we don’t have; no more tax increases; and no more debt.

“Americans are concerned about government running their lives and ruining their livelihoods, and they don’t get the sense that either the administration or Democrats on Capitol Hill are listening.

“Nowhere is this disconnect between the people and politicians in Washington more apparent than in the debate over health care. Americans don’t think a bigger role for government in health care would improve the system. Yet despite this, every proposal we’ve seen would lead to a vast expansion of the government’s role in the health care system.

“It’s not that Democrats in Congress don’t sense the public’s unease about a new government plan for health care. They do. It’s the primary reason some of them are backing away from proposals that include it.

“What some Americans don’t realize, however, is that even without a government plan, the health care plans Democrats are proposing would still vastly expand the government’s role in health care. And that’s what I’d like to discuss in a little more detail this morning.

“Let me list a few examples of how government’s role in health care would expand even without a government-run plan.

“Even without a government plan, the proposals we’ve seen would force employers to pay a tax if they can’t afford insurance for their employees. Employers have warned that this provision would kill jobs. At a time when the nation’s unemployment rate stands at a 25-year high of 9.7%, we should help businesses create jobs – not kill them.

“Even without a government plan, these proposals would require all Americans to choose only from health insurance plans with standards set by the government and would let government bureaucrats dictate what benefits are available to families.

“On this point, Americans have been equally clear: People want more choice and competition in the health care market so they can pick a plan that would work for their family — not one dictated by politicians in Washington. Yet even without a government plan, that’s what they’d get under the proposals we’ve seen. Anyone who saw any of the town hall meetings last month knows that this idea is about as popular as chicken pox.

“Even without a government plan, these health care proposals would require states to expand their Medicaid programs. Governors from both political parties have expressed serious concerns about the effect this particular proposal would have on their budgets. They think these kinds of decisions should be left up to the states, not the federal government, and so do most Americans.

“Even without a government plan, these health care proposals would impose new taxes on small businesses and individuals. Under the House bill, for example, taxes on some small businesses could rise as high as roughly 45 percent – a rate that’s approximately 30 percent higher than the rate for big corporations. Under the same House bill, the average combined federal and state top tax rate for some individuals would be about 52 percent — more than half their paychecks.

“Finally, the President has said that his plan won’t require any Americans to give up the health insurance they have and like. But what about the 11 million seniors who are currently enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program, nearly 90 percent of whom say they’re satisfied with it? This program has given seniors more options and more choices when it comes to their health care.

“Yet under the administration’s plan, the government would make massive cuts to Medicare Advantage, forcing some seniors off this plan that so many of them have and like. When it comes to Medicare Advantage, Democrat rhetoric just doesn’t square with reality.

“Let me sum up. While getting rid of the government plan would be a good start, the Democrat bills we’ve seen would still grant government far too much control over the health care system. Over the past few months, Americans have been saying they’ve had enough of spending, debt, and government expansion. How are Democrats in Washington responding? By trying to rush through another trillion-dollar bill that Americans don’t even want and can’t afford.

“The American people want health care reform — not with more government, but with less. They don’t want a new government-run system; they want us to repair the system we’ve got. On all these points, the American people are sending a clear and persistent message.

“It’s time we in Congress started to listen.”