Senate Republicans are united in the belief that a Washington takeover of the nation’s health care system is bad for the country and must be defeated.
Democratic Leader Harry Reid has written a bill that would radically expand the role of government in Americans’ lives and add several trillion dollars to the nation’s already immense debt. His health care “reform” bill would raid the financially troubled Medicare system to pay for a new entitlement program and lead to higher taxes, higher premiums, and greater government control of the American health care system.
The American people understand this. Public polling consistently shows overwhelming public opposition to the Democrats’ plan.
Since there are 60 Democrats in the Senate, they could have passed a bill long ago if they were all in agreement. Fortunately they are not. Republicans have offered many amendments to the Reid bill that have underscored problems with it, and some Democrats have supported Republican amendments — of course, there are never enough to actually pass the amendments.
One key area of Republican opposition is to the Medicare cuts in Reid’s bill. It would raid Medicare to help pay for the creation of a new government entitlement. Many Democrats want to cut Medicare by about a half trillion dollars even though the Medicare Board of Trustees concluded in 2008 the program would become insolvent by 2019.
Early in the debate, Sen. John McCain introduced an amendment to remove the proposed $500 billion cuts from the Medicare program.
“These cuts would harm seniors who have paid into the program and expect it to be there to help them with their health care,” McCain noted. That argument didn’t sway the Democrats, who handily defeated the amendment.
Sen. Judd Gregg later proposed that Medicare savings should be used to save Medicare instead of paying for new government entitlement programs. This too was defeated.
The Reid bill also includes approximately a half trillion dollars in new taxes, fees and penalties on people and businesses. These taxes, fees and penalties break President Obama’s campaign pledge not to raise taxes on individuals who earn less than $200,000 and families who earn less than $250,000. In fact, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, over 42 million of these individuals and families will see their taxes go up under Reid’s proposal.
Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo introduced a measure to protect American families by prohibiting the Reid bill from raising taxes on individuals making less than $200,000 and families earning less than $250,000. Democrats, however, decided to break the president’s pledge, and at the time of this writing, have refused to even allow a vote on Sen. Crapo’s amendment.
These are just a few examples of the serious flaws in the bill that Republicans, through the use of amendments, have highlighted in order to inform the public. And we believe that senators should have to defend their votes since, for many, they are directly contrary to what their constituents want.
The Reid bill would forever enlarge the role of government by inserting it squarely in our health care system. It will cut Medicare, raise taxes, raise premiums, and still leave many people uninsured. It won’t work; it can’t be improved. If Democrats truly want health care reform that Republicans can support, we must start over and target specific problems with specific solutions. But it’s become clear that Democrats have no intention of doing that, and they continue to push their 2,000-page, $2.5 trillion government takeover of the American health care system.
I am not known for hyperbole, so I hope readers will appreciate my concern when I say that I believe this is the most dangerous piece of domestic legislation that I’ve seen since I’ve been in Congress. And I will continue to do everything I can to defeat it, and encourage my colleagues to do the same.
Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his Web site at www.kyl.senate.gov or his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/senjonkyl.