McConnell: ‘So-called Reforms’: More Spending, More Taxes, More Debt

‘The bottom line is this: Under the illusion of reform, Americans will be asked to give up the care they like for something worse, and then they’ll be taxed to the hilt to pay for it’

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

“The health care system in this country is in urgent need of reform. People are frustrated with the soaring cost of care, and they’re frustrated that so many of their fellow Americans lack the coverage that they need and that they should be able to expect in a nation as prosperous as ours. People are also worried about the enormous burden that rising health care costs are placing on American businesses, which are being forced to put off pay increases and lay off workers to cope with rising insurance premiums. And now people are concerned that a new government health plan that’s being talked about will make all of these problems even worse.

“For weeks, many of us have been warning about plans for a government takeover of health care along the lines of the takeovers we’ve seen in other areas of the private sector. Now the details of those plans are coming to light, and they raise two questions: How much is all this going to cost, and how are we going to pay for it?

“Let’s take just three proposals in the plan that’s currently taking shape over in the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee, the details of which are just beginning to emerge.

“First, there’s a massive expansion of Medicaid. Here’s a program that was originally established as a partnership between the federal government and the states to assist the poor and disabled and which has become fiscally unsustainable. Yet rather than reform this broken program, the HELP Committee is proposing a massive new expansion instead.

“Second, the HELP Committee bill includes massive new subsidies for Americans with incomes higher than $100,000. The purpose of these subsidies is to help defray the cost of rising insurance premiums. Well, we all know that health insurance is too expensive. But we ought to be working to lower those premiums, not opening up the federal checkbook to drive them up even higher.

“Third, the HELP Committee bill establishes a new so-called Prevention and Public Health Investment Fund. The details of this fund are a little murky, but early indications are that it will direct billions of dollars to things like having the government build sidewalks and government-subsidized farmers markets.

“The idea here is to use tax dollars to encourage healthier lifestyles. But at a time when Americans are buried under medical bills and frightened about losing the coverage they have, farmers markets and sidewalks aren’t the reforms they have in mind.

“Americans want serious health care reform — not expansions of programs that are already fiscally unsustainable; subsidies that disguise rising costs instead of addressing their causes; and billions for sidewalks and asparagus. These are precisely the kinds of proposals that mask the underlying problems and cause people to lose faith in government solutions. And they’re not acceptable.

“The details we’re seeing from the HELP Committee should make us more skeptical of a government health plan — not less. And they should underscore for every American the need for the kind of real, comprehensive reforms some of us have been calling for over the past few weeks.

“The irony in this whole debate is that we’re being told America’s fiscal future will be jeopardized if we don’t allow the same people who are proposing these outrageous so-called ‘reforms’ to take over the entire health care system.

“Preliminary estimates for this flawed legislative proposal are staggering. Just yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released an estimate of just part of the HELP Committee bill. Focusing on just this one section, the CBO determined the bill will spend $1.3 trillion over 10 years, even though 37 million people would still be left without health insurance.

“And this isn’t even a complete evaluation of the bill. Large proposals that will have a significant impact on the cost such as a Medicaid expansion and a government run plan have not even been factored in. Moreover, according to the details of this HELP Committee plan, a newly-created health care exchange would result in 15 million Americans losing the employer coverage they currently have — further evidence that if you like what you have, you may well lose it under a government-run plan.

“How does the HELP Committee propose we pay for all this?

“Well, its proposal is full of creative new ways to spend taxpayer dollars, but it offers little in the way of offsetting the cost of the overall bill. They will either charge the money to the national credit card or, more likely, raise taxes on working families. In other words, more spending, higher taxes, and even more debt. So far, some of the taxes under discussion include a new tax on soda, juice boxes, the creation of a new tax on jobs, and new limits on charitable deductions.

“Based on the CBO estimate, these taxes would be just the beginning. The health care proposal being put together is not only extremely defective, it will cost a fortune. And that cost will come straight out of the taxpayer’s pocketbook.

“The bottom line is this: Under the illusion of reform, Americans will be asked to give up the care they like for something worse, and then they’ll be taxed to the hilt to pay for it. Americans don’t want changes that make the entire health care system as unsustainable as Medicaid — and they don’t want to go broke covering the cost.”