Critical Condition

The More Complicated, the Better

Mitch McConnell from the Senate floor just now: 

“Yesterday morning, our friends across the aisle came to the floor to defend the health care plan that they and their colleagues are pushing through Congress — a plan that has as its foundation a trillion dollars in spending, half a trillion dollars in cuts to Medicare, higher premiums, higher taxes on just about everyone at a time of near double-digit unemployment, and limits on the health care choices that millions of Americans now enjoy. Later in the day, we got a cost estimate. It’s irrelevant. The bill it’s referring to will never see the light of day.

“What matters is that the final bill will cost about a trillion dollars. Vastly expand the role of government in people’s health care decisions. Increase premiums. And limit choice.

“For months, Republicans have taken every opportunity to talk about the kinds of common-sense reforms we need and that Americans actually want. Personally, I’ve spoken just about every day we’ve been on the floor since June about step-by-step reforms to lower costs — common sense ideas that we should all agree on like malpractice reform, equalizing the tax treatment for businesses and individuals, and prevention and wellness programs — all of which would get right at the heart of our health care problems.

“We’ve talked about these things because they address the problems we have, problems of cost and access, without limiting the choices Americans now enjoy. We’ve talked about these things because these are the reforms Americans want.

“I’ve spoken about reform 43 times on the Senate floor. Yet some don’t seem to be listening. And this is precisely the problem Americans have identified with advocates of the administration’s health care plans. They aren’t listening to our common-sense proposals any more than they’re listening to the concerns of the Americans people.

“In fact, listening to the proponents of the administration’s health care plan, you get the sense they’re more concerned about their legacies than what the American people actually want. ‘This is the moment’ … ‘Be a part of history …’ These are the kinds of things they say to each other about health care. Here’s an idea: How about asking the American people what they want instead?

“Everyone wants reform. I’ve said so almost every day on the floor for months. But a 1,000 –page, trillion dollar bill that cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars, raises taxes on virtually everyone, raises premiums, and limits the health care choices Americans now enjoy is not the kind of reform Americans want. And what matters more than that?

“The views of the American people are relevant in a debate about legislation that will have a profound and lasting effect on their lives. And these same Americans overwhelmingly oppose the 1,000 page, trillion dollar plans they’ve seen from the administration and Congress. They’ve been saying so for months.

“Take the issue of cost. One of the things Americans are concerned about is how much this legislation will cost. They’re asking the question. They’re not getting a straight answer.

“We’ve seen a lot of numbers thrown around. As I’ve already noted, yesterday we got another one from the CBO. It doesn’t tell the whole story. The fact is, the bill it’s referring to will never see the light of day. That’s because the real bill will soon be cobbled together in a secret conference room somewhere in the Capitol by a handful of Democrat senators and White House officials.

“The other numbers we’ve seen are intended to explain how much this bill will cost over 10 years. What most people don’t realize is that the new plans wouldn’t go into effect for another four and a half years. So what’s being sold as a 10-year cost is really a five and a half year cost. That means you can take the numbers you’re getting and nearly double them.

“Here’s what we know about the true cost of the three bills we’ve seen so far: The Budget Committee has determined that the Finance Committee Bill, as introduced, will cost $1.8 trillion over 10 years, and we don’t expect it to get any better from here on out. The HELP Committee bill will cost $2.2 trillion over 10 years. And the House bill will cost $2.4 trillion over 10 years. So the average cost of these bills, when fully implemented, is more than $2 trillion.

“Americans are concerned about all this spending. They want straight answers. Advocates of the administration’s health care proposal seem to think that the bigger the proposal, the more complicated, the more expensive, the better. That’s not what the American people think. They’re making it clear. It’s about time we listen.”