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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 16, 2009 2:30pm-3:00pm EDT

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get to what i think will be a very positive vote on a very constructive idea that will benefit this country. but if it takes four days or two days or one day, whatever the moment, i think most of us will feel like we've done something good for the country. in the midst of all the other very controversial issues and very important issues, some of which are urgent, the question of how do you rein in increasing health care costs, what do you do about a country that's 70% on oil that comes from foreign countries, what do you do about the issue of protecting our climate and climate change? all of these big issues. how do you deal with a federal budget deficit that seems gallupping out of control. all these big issues. but in the middle of that, all of these issues that we're required to address in order to put america on a better course towards a better future in. the middle of all of, that this
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piece of legislation, the travel promotion act of 2009, might be one small glimmer, just one small bit of hope for more bipartisanship rather than less. because this piece of legislation is so persuasive about the interests of this country that we have republicans and democrats who have come together to say let's do this, let's do this in the interest of this country's economic future. mr. president, i yield the flo floor. and i make a point of order that a quorum is not present. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. roberts: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. roberts: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that i may proceed for approximately 16 minutes as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. roberts: i thank the distinguished acting presiding officer. mr. president, last week i came to the senate floor to talk about the flawed process of our current attempts to reform the health care system in this country and the urgent need to
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fix those flaws. those efforts included a letter, my letter, which every republican member of the finance and the "help" committee -- health, education, labor and pensions -- signed requesting some very reasonable steps to be taken by chairman baucus, chairman kennedy and senator dodd, who is standing in for our friend and colleague, senator kennedy. and we asked the chairman to release the details of their plans to reform health care. we asked them to do so in a timely manner to allow us time to read and understand the policies and to get reactions from our constituents, ie. the people who will benefit or won't benefit, not the mention the providers of health care. we asked them to give us the estimates of how much their plans would cost and how it would impact everyday americans. and finally, we asked them to
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identify how they intended to pay for these plans. it was my sincere hope that by receiving this information, we could better participate in the quest to ensure that every american -- every american -- has meaningful access to health care, not to mention patient choice. well, unfortunately the health care reform process has been so corrupted by artificial time lines and a hurry-up and a writing hell for leather mentality, it really threatens to destroy a health care system that has served most americans very well. the american health care system represents one-sixth of our economy, which has been repeated many times on this senate floor, offers health insurance coverage to 250 million americans and employs over 16 million people. it leads the world in medical
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innovations that saves lives inside as well as far outside of our borders. so this actually is an international health care bill. president obama has recognized that most people are happy with their health care. obviously they would like some changes, some reforms, but he has repeatedly assured them that if you like what you have, you can keep it. well, because changes of this system have the potential to impact every single american citizen and citizens of other nations, it seems to me we must ensure that we protect the best of its features when we consider changes to shore up its deficiencies. careful consideration is required. that is why we ask for more details and that is why we ask for more time. to date, our requests for more information have not been met and i think i am starting to understand why. yesterday afternoon the
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congressional budget office, the c.b.o., released its first preliminary analysis of the bill that we are scheduled to begin marking up in the "help" committee tomorrow. now, let me repeat this. yesterday afternoon, less than 24 hours -- 24 hours. if you're a "help" committee staffer use, looking at your watch and you're wondering how's come you don't have more time -- the congressional budget office released its first preliminary analysis of the bill that we are scheduled to begin marking up tomorrow. i said in my previous speech, maybe we need a process czar, a fair play czar around here. we've got 25 czars in the obama administration. maybe we need a czar around here to at least be fair, give us more time, give us more consideration, let us know what we're going to be voting on. so before i talk about the results of the c.b.o.'s analysis of the kennedy-dodd legislation, i need to point out that this analysis is incomplete.
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it is incomplete because despite our persistent requests for more information from our democratic colleagues and friends, one day before the markup of possibly the most important health care bill ever to cross the senate floor, they have not released the complete legislation. in fact, even when the "help" committee begins our markup tomorrow, we will not have a complete picture of what we are marking up. the most contentious components of the bill will not be released until sometime on thursday morning, leaving us around 30 hours to digest these significant policies, vet them with our people back home, take the specifics back home to the health care providers and to everybody, every constituent that certainly is interested and wants to know the details and then file amendments to see if we can do better, see if we can actually correct some things that we think are headed in the
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wrong direction. i said that it's hard to digest all of this in 30 hours. this is not digestion. this is not indigestion. this is heartburn, and it may develop into a malady much more serious than that. most egregious, perhaps, is the fact that we will most likely be considering these major reforms without any idea of how much they will cost or how they will affect the current system. but as i said, i'm starting to wonder whether that isn't part of the plan. which leads me back to yesterday's c.b.o. release analyzing the cost and effect of just one of the six titles to the kennedy-dodd health care reform bill and an incomplete title at that. according to c.b.o., the incomplete sections of title 1 will cost $1 trillion. $1 trillion. $1 trillion, and that's just for one incomplete title of this bill. what will we get for this staggering investment, for a title whos whose purpose is to
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ostensibly extend health care coverage to the estimated 47 million americans currently lack in coverage. 47 million. according to c.b.o., we will only cover 16 more americans. let me say that again, according to c.b.o., we will only cover 16 more -- 16 million more americans. that doesn't seem like a very good return for a bill that seeks to cover three times that many people. instead of extending health insurance to 47 million uninsured, we are leaving tens of millions still uncovered, and the c.b.o. says that that figure is around 37 million. so you can see we have some flaws in this approach on this bill. in addition, the c.b.o. says that 15 million people would lose their employer-sponsored insurance and another 8 million -- again the c.b.o. -- would lose coverage from their current source. now, who are we going to trust
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around here? at least when we ask the c.b.o. to get some specifics, they are providing some specifics and that is that 15 million people would lose their employer-sponsored insurance, another 8 million would lose coverage from their current source. that's 23 million people. that's a lot of folks. as i said, president obama consistently promised that if you like the health insurance plan you have, you can keep it. not those 23 million. under the kennedy-dodd bill, 23 million americans who may like what they have cannot, in fact, keep it. again, according to the c.b.o., nonpartisan. i can't even imagine how much nor bill will cost taxpayers when c.b.o. figures in the rest of the initiatives that my friends across the aisle wish to add, and i am positive that under the complete plan by my colleagues, millions more americans will not be able to keep the insurance that they like. that's because in addition to the plans that have already been released, they want to establish
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a new government-run taxpayer-financed insurance plan that's estimated to replace private insurance for over 100 million americansment they want an expansion of medicaid for everyone up to 150% of the federal poverty level and they want to enact dozens upon dozens of new programs. for example, title 3 of this bill includes -- listen to this -- a $10 billion-per-year cost in mandatory spending -- mandatory spending; this is on the appropriator side -- for something called a prevention and public health trust fund for the appropriations subcommittee on health with very little, if anything, direction on just what the money would be used for. now, this is unprecedented and amounts, in my view, to a slush fund regardless of any description. another section provides an unknown amount of money, such
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sums as be necessary -- as may be necessary to fund something called a community makeover. excuse me, a community transformation grant to build grocery stores, sidewalks, and jungle gyms. mr. president, sidewalks, jungle gyms, grocery stores. this is a health care bill, not a rural development bill. i am shocked by the numbers that have come out so far and they are just the beginning. well, come to think of it, maybe it's related to health care. maybe if you build a better sidewalk, people could walk on that sidewalk, pass the jungle gym, exercise on the jungle gym go, to the grocery store, have mandates to buy nothing but fruits and vegetables, come back past the jungle gym, exercise some more and since the sidewalk is fixed, they can go home and we would cure or help cure the obesity factor that we face today. maybe that's the tie. maybe that's the tie. i am shocked, as i've said, by
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the numbers. one independent group -- now, listen again to this, you've got to listen to this -- the group called h.s.i.etwork in minnesota has estimated the cost of the kennedy-dodd bill in its entirety could be $4 trillion. $4 trillion. the lewen group has estimated that up to 119 million americans could lose their private insurance coverage under a government-run plan. and i am willing to bet that the american public will be as shocked as i am once they understand what has been lurking, lurking, lurking under the banner of reform. the refusal to release information like this until the very last possible minute under an unjustifiably accelerated time line, leaving no time for senators, let alone the american public, to examine the merits of this plan makes me think the health care emperor has no clothes. let me repeat what the c.b.o.
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has said. 16 million americans newly insured -- good thing -- but 3 37 million americans still not insured. 23 million americans lose what they have for $1 trillion. mr. president, this is the wrong direction. this is the wrong direction. we ought to say "whoa." put a sign up in both committee rooms and say "whoa," and underneath that a sign that says "do no harm." congressional daily, just to add to this concern that i have and the frustration in regard to health care reform reported tuesday, june 16, today, score add recent version of the senate finance committee -- this is finance, not help, not the one i'm talking about, but the finance committee and i have the privilege of serving on both --
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their overhaul proposal is $1.5 trillion over 10 years. according to several sources, a typical news story, the committee's timeline to redees and markup the legislation could slip open the news and senate finance committee chairman baucus said the numbers are on a bill that is two weeks old and the bill has evolved since then. the chairman indicated it is unlikely he will release it wednesday as previously estimated -- that's tomorrow -- the high score could add more credence to an insurance co-op proposal offered by senate budget committee chairman conrad as an alternative. so we don't know, is it $1.5 trillion? is it $1 trillion? we don't know. in an offhand comment that may or may not be private, but i don't think anymore anything should be private in regard to health care reform, the chairman
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said it was a response to senator snowe, how can we vote for this bill in committee if we don't know how much it will cost and how it will merge with the help committee bill? basically the answer coming back is, this bill isn't going to be written here. it isn't going to be written in committee, but it will be written in conference. that's called "trust me." i don't see how we can have much trust when the hel when the emps no closed. i yiel yield back the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. casey: i guess we are not in a quorum call. the presiding officer: we're not. mr. casey: i ask consent that i be permitted to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. casey: and i'd also ask consent i be permitted to speak for what i hope will be 20 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. casey: finally, i'll have two subjects i'll cover,
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mr. president, separate subject matters but hope they -- i ask, i guess, they both be in the record as reflected in that way, that they're separate topics. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. casey: mr. president, thank you very much. i didn't plan on responding to my colleague from kansas and i won't today but i still think on health care we have a long way to go. there is still a lot of work to be done in the committee i'm a member of, the health, education, labor, pension committee and still a lot of work on the finance committee in health care. but if a general sense, i think what we're all trying to do -- i know my colleagues on the democrat side are trying to do this -- make sure at the end of this debate that the bill that emerges from the congress has a couple of basic principles. one, it gives people choice in their health care. if you like what you have, you get to keep it, if you don't
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like what you have, you have a choice; that the bill also reflects a cost reduction which is essential if we're going to move forward; and finally we provided kind of quality, affordable health care every american has the right to respect we would try to provide in this bill. if we keep that in mine, we can get to the right place. we have an awful lot of work to do and i think there are some conclusionary statements made in the last couple of days that don't reflect the reality which is we have a lot of proposals, we have draft bills, but we don't have a final product yet so we have a ways to go. the first subject, mr. president, is on the iran inelections and the second will be -- on the iranian elections and the second will be covered after that. i convey some brief remarks on the remarkable events we are witnessing unfolding in iran in the last couple of days. it is too soon to tell what will happen but we, what we do not know, i should say, if iran's
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brittle, these creatic regime will hear the voices of reform emanating from such powerful, in such powerful fashion from the streets of iran today. we do not know if a credible investigation of serious electoral irregularities will occur but i'm confident that the events of this past weekend will be recorded in the history boxes for a major milestone for the iranian people. the hard-liners that continue to rule iran may further entrench their power in the coming days, they are only planning the -- planting the seeds for their defeat by the response to the democratic voices with the kind of force and suppression that we've seen play out on television. it's a promising sign that iran's supreme leader called on the guardian council to assess the claims of serious irregular
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lawyers including vote rigging and ballot fraud. however, we should not get our hopes raised that justice is imminent. in the last iranian presidential election in 2005 there were also yes questions of fraud raised after mr. ahmadinejad came out of nowhere to win an outright majority in the first round of that election. and after a previous announcement that there would be a run off. yet the final results of that investigation were never published back in 2005 and thereafter and mr. ahmadinejad's declared victory stood firm. because of that precedent i'm skeptical that the iranian regime will engage in an honest review of this election contest. this count, i should say. president obama and his senior national security team have refrained from extensive commentary on the election in recent days. that is as it should be. the u.s. government should not give the iranian regime any
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flimsy rationals for further crackdown on protesters and reformist leaders. however, the administration officials, led by vice president biden, have made clear that the strategy of diplomatic engagement with iran's leadership to bring a peaceful resolution of iran's nuclear program will continue regardless of who may comprise that leadership or how they may have assumed power. that, i believe, is the right strategy. we must deal with iran as it is, not as we may wish it to be. for far too long the united states deprived it sell of the power of its diplomacy on the mistaken insistence that iran agree to a set of preconditions before talks could commence. talking to your enemy can never be viewed as a concession. the united states has spoken to the soviet union during the worst excesses of the cold war but diplomacy, diplomacy cannot,
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cannot, be the only option that the united states pursues with iran. the president knows this and has reaffirmed that other options are open to the united states on multiple occasions. any effective strategy toward iran must offer the regime a leer choice whe -- clear choices nuclear program. here is the choice: come into compliance with multiple u.n. security council resolutions and reap the benefits of economic engagement and warmer diplomatic ties, choice one; or, choice two, for the iranian regime: face continued economic sanctions and international isolation that will steadily worsen if iran continues to engage in illicit nuclear activities. either one or the other the regime has a choice to make before the world. effective diplomacy is successful if it can fully convey, fully convey that choice to the decisionmakers in iran. the congress can also play a useful role here in showing the
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consequences iran faces when it makes its choice on the nuclear program. some might call it good cop-bad cop. i prefer to call it diplomatic leverage negotiators can employ if and when they sit down to the table with iranian representatives. for those reasons, i'm proud to have joined my colleague, sam brownback, in introducing the iran sanctions enabling act. this legislation authorizes state and local governments as they see appropriate to direct investment from and prevent future investment in companies that hold investments of $20 million or more in iran's energy sector. mr. president, there is growing, there is a growing divestment movement across the country in response to iran's accelerating nuclear program. it's support of hamas and hezbollah, and hateful statements against israel perpetrated by its president and others in iran's senior
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leadership. unfortunately, the federal courts have ruled divestment actions undertaken against a single nation may contra detect the president's -- contradict the president's authority to enjoy exclusive authority over diplomatic relations so state and local governments undertake these measures with some legal jeopardy. the justice department in the past has taken legal action against -- against -- state and local governments in cases involving other nations. this action, thive ran sanctions en-- the iran sanctions enabling act protects the rights of state and local government to ensure pension funds are not invested in companies that did business with the regime like iran. it is carefully targeted to focus only on financial ties with iran's energy sector to hit iran where it is economically most vulnerable and the bill includes a sunset provision to lift this authorization once the president certifies, certifies,
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that iran has ceased providing support for acts of international terrorism and has ceased pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. i am proud to have assumed the lead democratic role on this legislation tacking over for president obama, then senator obama, who served the lead role when he was in the congress. mr. president, secondly, let me also take a brief moment to comment on the iran refined petroleum sanctions act of which i'm proud to be a cosponsor with the majority of the senate. the bill would clarify existing legal ambiguity by authorizing the president to sanction foreign firms involved in supplying iran with refined gasoline and or assisting aran with increasing its refining capacity. iran is forced to import as much as 40% of its annual gasoline consumption due to the fact that the refining infrastructure was destroyed during the iran-iraq war in the 1980's and economic
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sanctions have limited outside foreign investment. targeting iranian gasoline consumption is a promising venue increasing our leverage on iran'iran's help and the iranian people may question why the regime prioritizes a nuclear program condemned by the international community at the cost of serious gasoline shortages in iran. mr. president, the images of recent days have been stirring. just yesterday, we witnessed a procession of hundreds of thousands of iranians, both those dressed in modern attire and elderly women wearing traditional veils, marching in silence in downtown tehran. indeed, whenever a chant our shout. merged it was hushed seeking to avoid provocation for the riot
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police standing watch to break up the march. it is easy to forget with all the incendiary rhetoric from leaders like mr. ahmadinejad that the iranian people remain fundamentally pro american and envy or democracy and personal liberties. this week is a dark moment for the iranian people as their legitimate aspiration for greater reform have been apparently sidetracked by the regime. but i'm optimistic on their future and look forward to the day that the united states and iran can once again be at peace and enjoy mutual respect for and with one another. finally, mr. president, i know my time is short and i'll submit my, the next part of my remarks, the full text for the record, if i could ask consent to do that. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. casey: i ask how were time i have left? the presiding officer: you have


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