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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 23, 2009 10:30am-11:00am EDT

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amendment of the constitution, which reads in part: no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. obviously the third issue is going to be very much in the news, probably again as soon as next monday when the supreme court hands down its decision in the ricky vs. destafano case, a case in which judge sotomayor participated on the panel before her court of appeals. that case, as you may recall, involves firefighters who took a competitive race-neutral examination for promotion to lieutenant or captain at the new haven fire department. the bottom line is that the supreme court could decide the ricky case in a matter of days, and the court's decision, i believe, will tell us a great deal about whether judge sotomayor's philosophy in that
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regard as far as the equal protection clause is concerned, is within the judicial mainstream or well outside of it. the ricky case is one way the american people could get a window into judge sotomayor's judicial philosophy. another way is to look at some of her public comments, including speeches made on the duty and responsibility of judging. the remarks that have drawn the most attention are those in which she said -- and i quote -- "i would hope that a wise latino woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life." as i said before and i'll say it again, there's no problem certainly from me, and i don't believe any senator, if she's just showing what i think is understandable pride in her
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heritage. as we all should as a nation of immigrants. but if the judge is talking about her judicial philosophy and suggesting that some people, some judges, because of their race, because of their ethnicity, because of their sex, actually make better decisions about legal disputes, then that's something senators will certainly want to hear more about, this senator included. judge sotomayor has made other public remarks that deserve more scrutiny than they have received so far. for example, in a speech in 2002, judge sotomayor embraced the remarks of judith resnik and martha minnow, who are two prominent law professors who each proposed theories about judging that are far different from the way that i think most americans think about these issues. most americans think that the people elect their representatives, members of the
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house and senate, to write the laws. and that judges, rather than rewriting those laws, should interpret those laws in a fair and commonsense way without imposing their own views on what the law should be. most americans think that when judges impose their own views on a case, when they substitute their own political preferences for those of the people and their elected representatives, they undermine democratic self-governance and they became judicial activists. professors resnik and minnow have very different ideas from, i think, the mainstream american thought on what a judge's job should be. their views may not be controversial in the ivory tower of academia. academics often encourage each other to engage in provocative theories and so they can write about them and get published and get tenure. but the american people generally don't want judges to experiment with new legal
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theories when it comes to judging. they have a more commonsense view that judges should follow the law and not the other way around. so where does judge sotomayor stand on some of these academic legal theories which i think are far out of the mainstream of american thought? i'm not sure, but in her 2002 remarks she said this, she said -- quote -- "i accept the proposition that as professor resnik describes it, to judge is an exercise of power. and as professor minnow states, there is no objective stance, but only a series of prospectives. no neutrality, no escape from choice in judging." if i understand her quotes directly -- and those are some things i want to ask her about in the hearing -- that's not the kind of thing that i think most americans would agree with. they don't want judges who think there is no such thing as neutrality in judging because
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neutrality is an essential component of fairness. if you know you're going to walk into a courtroom only to have a judge predisposed to decide against you because of some legal theory, then that's not a fair hearing. and we want our judges to be neutral and as fair as possible when deciding legal disputes. the american people, i don't think, want judges who believe that they have been endowed with some power to impose their views for what is otherwise the law. americans believe in the separation of powers, separation between executive, legislative, and judicial power, and that judges should by definition show self-restraint and respect for the other branches of government. mr. president, i hope judge sotomayor will address these academic legal theories during her confirmation hearing, and i hope she'll clarify what she sees in the writings of professors resnik, minnow and
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others that she finds so admirable. i hope she'll respect the constitution more than these newfangled legal theories and she'll respect the people. mr. president, i thank the chair, and i yield the floor at this time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, will the chair let me know when i've consumed five minutes? the presiding officer: the nator will be notified. mr. alexander: thank you very much, mr. president. mr. president, this morning one of our biparartisan breakfasts occurred which we have here every so often. senator lieberman and i and other senators organize this. there were 18 senators there. the presiding officer is often a participant in those meetings. we talked about health care. and one of the things we said,
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as we listened to the chairman and ranking members of the finance committee and other senior members, is that we agree on about 80% of what needs to be done. but one of the areas where we don't agree is cost. and another area is whether a so-called government-run insurance option will lead to a washington takeover of health care. a lot of us are feeling like we've had about enough washington take overs. our banks, our insurance companies, our student loans, our car companies, even our farm ponds. and now health care would be too much. that's not the best way to extend coverage to low-income americans who need it. the chairman of the finance committee indicated that his bill would be paid for, but on the health and education committee on which i serve, that's not the case. the bill's not even finished yet, and already as the senator from new hampshire pointed out, in the 5th through the 14th year -- 10 years -- it would
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cost $2.interest, taking the federal debt up -- it would cost $$2 trillion. let me mention an aspect of cost which is often overlooked. federal debt is certainly a problem, but as a former governor, i care about the state debt and state taxes. the states don't have printing presses. they have to balance their budgets. so if we do something up here that puts a cost on states down there, they have to raise taxes or cut some program. we know the programs they have to cut -- education, health care -- programs that are important to people in illinois and people in tennessee. well, the medicaid program in the kennedy bill that we're considering would increase medicaid by to 150% of the federal poverty level, which sounds real good until you take a look at the cost. in tennessee alone, if the state had to pay just its share of the
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requirement -- about one-third -- that would be $600 million. and it would be another $100 million if it has been suggested, it's required that the state reimburse physicians up to 110% of medicare. that's $1.2 billion of new costs just for the states. well, the discussion has been the federal government will take that over for a few years and then will shift that back to the states. my response is that every senator who votes for such a thing ought to be sentenced to go home and serve as governor of his or her home state for eight years and figure out how to pay for it or how to manage a program like that. in our state -- i mean, we talk about money up here, a trillion here, a trillion there. but $1.2 billion in the state of tennessee equals to what, about a 10% income tax on the people of tennessee would bring in. we don't have an income tax. so that would be a new 10% income tax. so one of my goals in the health care debate is to make sure that
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we don't get carried away up here with good-sounding ideas and impose huge unfunded mandates on the states which we're not supposed to do, according to to the 10th amendment to the constitution, but superimpose our judgment on the governor, legislature, the mayors, the local folks who are making decisions about whether to spend for lowering tuition or improving the quality of the community college or providing this form of health care or building this road or bridge. that's their decision. and if we want to require something, we should pay for it from here. if i'm -- i'm going to be very alert on behalf of the states and citizens of the states to any sort of proposal that would shift unfunded mandates on state and local governments, and i hope my colleagues will as well. my suggestion to every governor in this country over the next few days is to call in your medicaid director, ask that medicaid director to call the
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united states senate and say tell us exactly how much the kennedy bill and the finance committee bill will impose in new costs on our state if the costs are shifted to the states. then when we come back at the first of july, we can know about that cost. i thank the senator very much. so my interest is not just in additions to the federal but in unfunded mandates to the states. and i'd ask unanimous consent to place into the record an article in "the new york times" from june 22, 2009, to show in what condition the states are in, in all of the budget crisis, not in any position to accept this. i also would like to thank the senator from arizona for allowing me to go ahead of him so i can go to the committee and offer an amendment. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. kyl: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. kyl: the senator from tennessee has been a leader in pointing out the problems that these health care expenditures would impose on our states. it is important for the governments of the states to begin to let washington know what they think about these new costs that they're going to have to bear. let me begin at the outset here on the same subject to make it clear that republicans are very eager for serious health care reform, just as i think the american people are. that's why we support new ideas that would actually cut health care costs and make all health care more affordable and accessible. republicans want to reform our medical liability laws to curb frivolous lawsuits. we want to strengthen and expand wellness programs that encourage folks to make healthy choices about smoking and diet and exercising. all of those have huge impacts on the cost of health care. we also want to address the needs of the unemployed, those who work for or own a small business, those with preexisting conditions. all of these we can address. and this can and must be done
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without imposing job-killing taxes and regulations. in short, we favor innovation, not just regulation. our democratic friends would like to take a different route. many of them would like to impose a one-size-fits-all washington-run bureaucracy that we believe ultimately would lead to the kind of delay and denial of care we've heard about in canada and great britain. i've spoken about the trouble with health care rationing, so today i would like to talk about the cost of a new washington-run health care system. the administration often argues we need washington-run health care to help the economy. but washington bureaucracy and economic growth are not phrases that tend to have a positive correlation. is it realistic to think that adding millions of people to a new government-run health insurance system will somehow save money or help the economy? as "wall street journal" he had toerlzed about the so-called public plan -- and i quote -- "in that kind of work, costs
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will climb even higher as far more people use free care and federal spending will reach epic levels. end of quote. one wag kweupd if you think health care is expensive now, just wait till it's free. in fact, the first estimate from the nonpartisan congressional budget office shows that just a portion of the democratic plan will cover only one-third of the uninsured, will cost over $1 trillion. $1 trillion to cover 16 million more people. that's for one part of the proposed plan. i think that works out to about over $62,000 per person. the administration said last week that it wants to rework the plan to bring the costs down below $1 trillion. well, that will help. they haven't provided a specific number, but what i'd like to know is do they consider anything below $1 trillion acceptable? $999 billion? $800 billion? what's acceptable here? just trying to get it below $1
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trillion so the sticker shock isn't as great? the american people are worried about our increasing national debt and this only makes the problem worse, not better. as the republican leader mentioned in his radio address, the same economic argument was used to sell the $1.3 trillion stimulus package. we have to move quickly to help the economy. four months later unemployment has risen to 9.4%. much higher than the 8% peak that the administration said it would be if we quickly passed the stimulus legislation. now the administration is asking for billions more for washington-run health care plan and as "the new york times" noted last friday while the democrats' bill outlines a massive amount of new spending, it does not explain how it intends to pay for it. that's an important detail. congress would either have to run up more debt on top of the
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historic debt already produced by the president's budget and the stimulus bill or it will have to raise taxes. that's one area in which our colleagues on the other side of the aisle have actually offered a lot of new ideas, taxes on beer, soda, juice and snack food along with limits on charitable contributions have been proposed. they're dropping the bucket relative to the amount of new tax that's would be required to fund their new plan. i'd like to know when will we draw the line and try something other than new taxes and massive new government spending to solve the problem? americans want health care reform. but most of them don't want to be saddled with mountains of new debt. as of june 21st "the new york times" article reported a new survey shows, and i'm quoting, a considerable unease of the impact of government involvement on the quality of respondent's
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own care. the american people are worried that their own care will be negatively impacted as a result of the so-called reform being proposed. that same survey, an nbc-"the new york times" survey showed that while 85% of americans want serious reform, just 28% are confident that a new health care entitlement will improve the economy. so as the president is trying to sell this on the basis that we need it for the economy, 28% of the americans really believe that's the case and, frankly, mr. president, i share their skepticism. it's going to hurt, not help. we need to reform health care right. and i think there's much more virtue in doing it correctly over doing it quickly. president obama promised change. but there's nothing new about dramatically increasing government spending. and adding even more to our national debt. i hope that some of my friends on the democratic side as well
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as republicans can agree that when it comes to health care reform, we should embrace real changes that support medical innovation and put patients first. that's the answer, that's what the american people want. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. durbin: consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: "washington post". mr. durbin: mr. president, the senate is considering many issues now of great importance, but none more important to the american people than the future of health care in this great nation. this weekend a new poll was released by "the new york times" and cbs, 5% of the people
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surveyed said -- said that it needs fundamental change or to be rebuilt 85%. people sense that though we have great hospitals and interests, there's something fundamentally flawed with our system and you can understand. why we're spending more money than any other country on earth and we're not getting the medical results that we want and there's real uncertainty that average people just won't be able to keep up with the cost of health, the battles with health insurance companies over coverage and whether or not at the end of the day they can have the quality health care every single person wants for themselves an their family. -- and their family. they ask the american people which party they trusted to deal with health care reform. and they said -- 18% said they trusted the party on the other side of the aisle, the republicans. 57% trusted the democratic majority. even one out of every four
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republicans said that the democrats would do a better job in creating a better health care system. people on this side of the aisle want to build on what works in the current system and fix what's broken. we not only want to respond to the 85% of people who want change, we're listening to 77% of the people who say they're satisfied at this moment with the quality of their own care. and so the starting point is: if you have health insurance you like, good for your family, you can keep it. we're not going to change that. it's a tricky balance, but one we have to address. how to preserve what's good, but fix what's broken. one of the foundations is a so-called public option. a lot of people don't know what that means. but it basically says there should an option to private health insurance companies that is basically public in name. we have a lot of public health now in america. medicare is an obvious example. 40 million people who count on
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medicare to provide affordable quality care in their elderly years an during their disabilities. the medicaid program is another 1 for the poor -- another one for the poor people in our society. we have veterans health care. there are way that's we involve the government in health care that have been proven to being successful not just for years, but for decades. now, many folks on the other side of the aisle come to the floor warning us about government involvement in health care. i've not heard a single one of them call for the end of medicare or the end of veterans care. not one of them. we asked the american people: what did you think about a government health care plan as an option, a choice for you so that you can choose from the well-known names in health insurance, private companies, but then you also have one other choice. you can pick the public plan. the public interest plan, the government plan. this poll, taken by "the new york times" an cbs found that
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there was broad bipartisan backing for a public option. half of those who call themselves republican say that they would support a public plan, along with nearly three-quarters of independents. this chart here -- let me get this up here correctly. would you favor or oppose the government offering, a health insurance plan like medicare, that would compete with private health insurance. all responded 72% said that they favored that. only 20% oppose. but three to one favor the idea of a public health plan. 50% of republicans do. 87% of democrats. 73% of independents. and then we asked the harder question: are you willing to pay more, higher taxes so that all americans can have health insurance? that they can't lose no matter what happens. look at this number, 57% of all respondents say that we're willing to pay higher taxes if
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everyone has the peace of mind that health insurance will be there. those making less than $50,000, 64% of them supported it. those with incomes over $50,000, 52% of those supported it as well. many of the people coming to the floor on the other side of the aisle don't agree with the vast majority of americans when it comes to this. i commend my colleagues on the other side of the aisle for at least coming to engage us in this debate, but we do see things a lot differently. we've heard a lot of republicans come to the floor discussing health care, many of them have been critical of change. maybe it's been made clear to the majority of the american people that those who are waiting on congress to act may see some on the other side of the aisle reluctant and slow while those on our side of the aisle are trying to follow president obama to a solution. regardless of their reasoning, it seems that most of the republicans approach to this can be summarized in three words,
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deny, delay, and ration. that's what we've heard from the health care -- from the republicans on health care reform. the republican leader started two weeks ago. we heard it from again last week. i have no doubt that we will hear from him again this week as well as the republican whip. perhaps they think if they drill home the three words, deny, delay, and ration that peep ll lose their appetite for change in the health care system. when our economy was in a deep freeze earlier this year with a recession that president obama inherited, he called on us to enact landmark legislation to try to get this economy started moving forward. it was an effort that was resisted by the other side of the aisle. we ended up with three republicans at the time who supported us even though the president asked them personally to be engaged, to be involved, and to help us solve this problem. but they deny that the problem was as great it was a. they wanted to delay
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consideration of the legislation, drag it out as long as possible, and then they wanted to limit or ration the dollars we put in recovery. they thought the economy would get well all by itself. if we had given into their view, i'm afraid unemployment figures today would be even higher. economic output anemic and many states facing bankruptcy today would face worse circumstances. so we went forward. we would not allow the republican approach when it came to recovery and reinvestment in the american economy. we see the strategy now repeatedly from the republican side of the i'll. it seems to be their approach to governing or not governing. they want to deny requests from the floor to move the legislation. last night was the most recent. here's a bill which nobody argues against to increase tourism in the united states, bring in more foreign visitors who will spend more money, who will help hotels and restaurants and airlines and businesses large and small. 11 republicans cosponsored it.
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last night we said, let's pass it, let's move on. this is the type of thing that's good but it shouldn't take all of this time to do. only two of the 11 republicans who cosponsored the tourism bill will willing to vote for it last night they wanted to delay it again. they want us to end up this week accomplishing little or nothing. at the end of the week, if they get us to do nothing, they considered a -- consider it a successful week. i don't see how it can be. this bill we're talking about on tourism is designed to help create jobs in this country. something we desperately need. health care is a serious issue which we need to move on and not delay. democrats believe the role of the federal government is to keep the best interest of the american people in mind, half of those questioned in the "the new york times"-cbs poll said they thought the government would be better at providing medical coverage than private insurers. incidentally that number is up 30% from a couple of years

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