McConnell: Americans Want Health Reform, Not Another Tidal Wave of Debt

‘The administration admits it made a mistake on its predictions about the stimulus. We shouldn’t make the same mistake again when it comes to health’

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:

“Earlier this year, the new administration proposed and Democrats in Congress approved an economic stimulus bill that was meant to lift the economy at a time of massive job losses and widespread economic hardship.

“Not only was the bill enormously complex, it was also one of the costliest pieces of legislation ever proposed.

“And yet those who put it together insisted that it be rushed to a vote.

“Their reason: the economic downturn was just too dire to wait. ‘Trust us,’ they said. ‘It’s responsible; it’s needed; and it will work.’

“And so this incredibly complex, enormously expensive bill, which was introduced on January 26th — was passed less than three weeks later — just 24 hours — 24 hours — after all of its details had been disclosed to the public for review.

“At the time, I argued that spending this much borrowed money in the middle of a recession on a bill that had been rushed to the floor was extremely irresponsible. At a time when millions were struggling just to make ends meet, Washington had no business borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for government golf carts and ATV trails in the name of economic stimulus. This week, Senator Coburn has catalogued some of the other outrages that are contained in this bill.

“Here are just a few:

“The town of Union, New York, received a $578,000 grant that it didn’t request for a homelessness problem it claims it does not have.

“Florida is planning to spend $3.4 million in stimulus money to build a 13 foot turtle tunnel at Lake Jackson. That’s more than $250,000 per foot.

“And — this one takes the cake — in North Carolina, $40,234 in federal stimulus money will pay for the salary of someone whose job is to lobby … for more stimulus funds … $40,234 just to pay someone to lobby for more stimulus money.

“This would be comical if it weren’t so maddening, and if these projects hadn’t been sold to the American people as the answer to our economic problems, and if the administration hadn’t assured us that it would make sure every cent of this money was spent efficiently and without waste.

“But that was then.

“The administration had promised since January that it would keep an eye on how precious tax dollars were spent. But just months after the stimulus was signed into law it was already admitting that funds would be wasted and that people were being scammed.

“In January and February, administration economists took to the talk shows promising that the Stimulus would create three million to four millions jobs. They said that if we passed the stimulus, the unemployment rate would now be about eight percent.

“But just a few months later, with job losses continuing to mount, the administration admits that their earlier predictions were a guess — and that they guessed wrong.

“Today, the unemployment rate stands at 9.4 percent, and just yesterday the administration said it expects unemployment to climb even higher.

“A trillion dollars that they said was absolutely necessary to jumpstart the economy, and which was put on a fast-track by an eager to please Democratic-led Congress, is now being called a bad guess by the very people who proposed it. And now they’re asking us to do it again.

“Only this time it’s even more than $1 trillion, and the consequences could be far worse. The early estimates we’re getting for the health care proposal we’ve seen is that just a portion of it will spend $1.3 trillion.

“This figure, staggering in itself, doesn’t even account for the money that would be needed to pay for expanding Medicaid and creating a new government-run plan.

“And no one can tell us where any of this money will come from.

“Yet, just like the stimulus, we’re being told in the most urgent tones that this government takeover of health care is absolutely necessary, and that we have to approve it as soon as possible — without review, without knowing the full cost, and without knowing how it will affect people's lives.

“Once again, it’s rush and spend, and rush and spend — and a tidal wave of debt.

“Everyone in America knows that health care reform is needed in this country. But they want us to do it right — they don’t want a blind rush to spend trillions of dollars in the hope the administration gets it right.

“During the debate over the stimulus, we were told that we had to pass it right away, with just 24 hours review — or $42 billion an hour, for the sake of the economy.

“Now we’re being told we need to approve a particular set of health care reforms …. for the sake of the economy. But we have no bill. We have no idea of its total cost. And yet it’s rush, rush, rush.

“We’ve heard all this before. We’ve made this mistake already. Americans won’t be rushed into another one.

“Americans want health care reform. But they want the right reform — not a government takeover disguised as a reform that takes away the care they have, replaces it with something worse, and costs untold trillions that they and their grandchildren will have to pay for through higher taxes and even more debt.

“The administration admits it made a mistake on its predictions about the stimulus. We shouldn’t make the same mistake again when it comes to health care.”