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

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would have more success in holding down costs, up from 47%. the american people know that the government doesn't want to deny people health care, delay their services or ration. but it's no surprise the republican leaders still use these words. that's their play book. it is a play book written by a pollster, an advisor whom i know. frank luntz. he has been around a long time. he is the guru. he is the go-to guy, a great thinker on the republican side of the aisle. he calls himself in his publications dr. frank luntz. it looks like when it comes to strategy on health care reform, the republicans are more focused on dr. frank than they are on the realities that doctors and patients face in america every single day. dr. frank gave them a 28-page memo on how to stop health care reform before we had even put a bill on the table. there are those who want to stop
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health care reform before they know what's in it. you know who they are? they are the people who are today making a fortune on the current health care system. they see profitability at risk if there is health care reform. and it's no wonder that you hear dr. frank come up with proposals for the republican side of the aisle which are then repeated here on the floor of the senate. on page 15 of his marching orders, dr. frank luntz wrote, "it's essential that deny and denial enter into the republican lexicon immediately." on page 24 he said of the state messages we tested, nothing turns people against what the democrats are trying to do more immediately than the specter of having to wait. on page 23 of the memo of dr. frank hrupbts he wrote the word rationing does induce the negative response you want he said to his republican
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followers. rationing tests very well against the other health care buzzwords that frighten americans. well, that last phrase really caught my attention. because more and more what we hear from the other side of the aisle criticizing president obama's agenda is fear. be afraid. be very afraid. be afraid of change. the american people weren't afraid of change last november. they voted for it. they asked for change in the white house. i think that they said it overwhelmingly. and we've seen change. but what we hear from the republican side is be afraid of change. over and over again that is their mantra, whether it's a question of changing the economy, as it was under the bush administration. changing health care as it's been for years. changing education so that we get better results. the republicans say be afraid of this. be frightened. i think that's, unfortunately, their motto. they've used it time and again.
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and i don't think it's what america's about. we're a hopeful nation, not a fearful nation. we want to be careful but not afraid. we want to make good decisions, the right decisions. we want to try to make them on a cooperative basis, bring everybody in a room and try to come up with a reasonable answer. but we shouldn't be afraid, not afraid to tackle these things and not frightened by the prospect that it might be hard work. as the president said about health care reform, if it were easy, it would have been done a long time ago. i think that's something we need to look at and understand. democrats recognize that the status quo, the way we've been doing things forever, isn't working for millions of americans when it comes to health care. the idea of having a public insurance plan option is, of course, to make sure that we keep the private profitable health insurance companies honest, that they have some competition. otherwise, we're stuck with the current system where they can just blanket, make a decision
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that the people with preexisting conditions have no coverage, where they can decide that what your doctor thinks is the best procedure is something they won't pay for. american families deserve health insurance that does not force families to mace limitless out-of-pocket expenses. americans want real health insurance reform. this public option is going to promote that kind of choice. my colleagues on the other side of the aisle continue to assault this idea of public insurance, insisting it is just too much government. the minority leader on the republican side said americans don't deserve or want health care that forces them into government bureaucracy, that will delay or deny their care and force them to navigate a web of complex rules and regulations. of course they don't. raising that specter and that fear, as suggested by dr. frank luntz, the republican strategist, is just what they want to do to plant the seeds in the minds of people that any change is going to be bad.
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well, i don't think the american people feel that way. if you want to see a bureaucracy, try getting through a call to your health insurance company after you get the letter that says they won't cover the $1,500 charge your procedure your doctor ordered. if you want to see bureaucracy, talk to someone who can no longer get health insurance because of an illness that they had years ago for some preexisting condition, or because they're too old in the eyes of health insurance companies. ask them how streamlined or efficient conversations are with insurance companies today. if you want to see bureaucracy, you can talk to the small businessman in springfield, who is a friend of mine, who has had to jump through a series of hoops to find a way to continue health care coverage and keep his small business going. plain and simple, the health insurance industry today is a bureaucracy, and it's one that most people know firsthand. it's what americans face and small business owners face every single day. so we need to move to a new
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idea, an idea that is not based on the health insurance companies' model. they are the ones who are profiting. last year was a bad year for most american businesses. according to cnn and "fortune" magazine, only 24 of the fortune 500 company stocks generated a positive return last year. among those that did not have a positive return last year -- g.m., united airlines, time warner, ford, cbs and macy's -- all these companies lost billions in what financial analysts tell us was the fortune 500's worst year ever last year. there were two sectors of the economy that did well: the oil industry and the health insurance industry. the top four health insurance companies in america -- united health group, well point, aetna and humana -- made more than $7.5 billion in combined profit last year, while the bottom fell out for sreurt wastefulry other
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company, short of the oil industry, across the board. the goal of the democratic health insurance bill is to create health care and quality. republicans want to preserve a broken system, one with escalating costs and no guarantee that the policy is going to be there when you need it. rather than health insurance companies, democrats want to put american families first and help those who are struggling with high health care costs. i think this is a moment of truth for us in this congress. this isn't an easy issue. right now the finance committee and the "help" committee are both working hard in the senate to try to put together health care reform. but let me tell you, without this things are going to get progressively worse. the cost of health care will continue to rise to unsupportable levels. individuals will still feel that even if they have a good health insurance plan today, it may cost too much tomorrow. even if they think their health
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insurance covers them well today, they may be denied coverage tomorrow. businesses who want to keep insuring their employees worry over whether they think they can be competitive and still pay high health insurance premiums. and individuals worry about this as welling. the last point i'd like to make, madam president, is that i think the president is right to say to us that we have to get this job done. i say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, don't deny the obvious. don't come to this floor in denial of the need for health care reform. it's real. we need it in this country, and 85% of the american people know it. the republican leadership should come to know it in the senate. and secondly, don't dream up ways to delay this important deliberation. that really isn't serving our country well. if justice delayed is justice denied the same thing is true when it comes to health care reform. delaying this into another congress and another year doesn't solve the problem. it makes it worse. we need to face it today, and we
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need some republicans -- a few, maybe just a handful -- that will step away from the republican leadership on the other side of the aisle and say we're willing to talk. if this is a good-faith negotiation to find a reasonable compromise, we're willing to do it. it's happened in the past, even a few months ago. it can happen again, but it will take some real leadership on their side. the president has said his door's open. the same thing is true on the democratic side. our door's open as well. for those who want to in good faith true to solve what may be the biggest domestic challenge we've ever faced in the united states senate, we have that chance to do it and we honestly can do it if we work in good faith. but denying the problem, delaying efforts to get to the problem and deciding that we're only going to do just a tiny bit of it so we can move on to something else is, unfortunately, a recipe for disaster. it's one the american people don't deserve and one that we should avoid. madam president, i yield the floor.
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i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. a senator: i'd ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you, madam president. there is an old saying that you don't know what you've got until it's gone. and it's true -- mr. udall: and it's true in particular when you're talking about water. we have a tendency to take water for granted since we're so used to it always being there when we turn on our faucets or showers or we want to water our yards. and we tend to use it
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inefficiently. we let the faucet run when we're brushing our teeth or we water our lawns in the middle of the day when evaporation are at their highest. but when you grow up in the desert, as i did, you'll learn to treasure water. everything in the west is shaped by it, and you know that it might not always be there when you need it. and this will become, particularly in my part of the country, but i think in the presiding officer's state as well, more apparent as we see lower snow packs and decreasing precip ation. and we already in the southwest, because of climate change dynamics and drought cycles are experiencing those situations. water is the lifeblood of the west. recent droughts in the southeast of our great country remind us that no one's immune from water shortages. and it's with an eye to those experiences that i rise today to introduce legislation that would take a measured and practical step toward conserving it.
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the name of this act is the water accountability tax efficiency reinvestment act of 2009. that's a mouthful, but if you boil down its acronym, it's the water act and it creates a tax incentive for individuals and businesses to purchase products and services that use water, middle east a 20% more efficient level in comparable technologies. it's very similar to the existing tax credit that we all receive now for purchasing energy-efficient energy star products. certainly you see energy star products all over homes and increasingly customers are purchasing them. i want to thank my friend and colleague in the house of representatives, where the presiding officer and i had the honor of serving, congressman mike kaufman for introducing this measure in the house. i'm pleased to work with him in a bipartisan way. he's a member of the republican party. and a bicameral way. of course he serves in the house
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of representatives. i rise today to urge my colleagues here in the senate to join us in supporting this bill. why? well, the more we can conserve today, the more we can decrease the demands on our existing water resources. and better yet, we save our constituents and ourselves literally hundreds of dollars in the process. what would the water act do? madam president, it would create a 30% tax credit on the purchase of products that have earned the environmental protection agency's water sense label. there would be a maximum cap of $1,500, but that's a handsome incentive for us as consumers. now, like the energy star label, it's awarded by the e.p.a. and the department of energy. the water sense label would be reserved for products that consume at least 20% less water than comparable items. now these products are becoming much more common. they include many brands of
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faucets, toilets, shower heads, even irrigation services. the predictions are that soon entire homes will become water-sense certified. it's not only a bonus for the environment when you conserve water, but it's helpful to our wallets. the cheapest gallon of water, just like the cheapest barrel of oil, is the one you don't use. and it's estimated by the e.p.a. that with some simple adjustments in the way that we use water, the average household could save close to $200 a year on their water an sewer -- and sewer bills. there is an interesting nexus between water an energy use. if you conserve water, you conserve energy. less water means less energy for our showers, sinks, dishwashers, and the energy used to supply and treat public water. the e.p.a. estimates if 1% of american households used water
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sense certified toilets, each year we could save enough electricity to power 43,000 homes for a month. take lower water bills, and energy bills an reduce demands on the environment, that is something that we should strive to accomplish. now numerous groups already support this legislation, as it's written, and -- as it's written, and i focus on my home state of colorado where industry groups an water authorities and local leaders in colorado have signed on to this concept. i wanted to also say that moving forward on this legislation gained added importance for me last month when i attended a briefing that the atmospheric research held. and this particular brief something focused on the ways in which we will have to adapt our management of water resources in response to the effects of climate change and i know that the presiding officer and i share a real concern about climate change.
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i used to think that any discussion of adapting to climate change was misguided because we were giving into the problem. we were saying we're going to let climate change occur. but i've come to believe that adapting to climate change is a recognition of reality. it's having impacts all across our country. and if we don't act now, we won't be meeting our responsibilities to not only our constituents today, but our children and their children in the future. in my state all you have to do is look for an example at the colorado river. colorado, wyoming, new mexico, nef and the country of mexico -- nevada and the country of mexico have an agreement that was reached 0 years ago on how -- 80 years ago on how to divide up the colorado river. we thought there were
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16.5 million-acre feet of water to divide. we now believe that time period when we took those numbers into account was a particularly wet period in the history of the colorado river basin and our best guess now is only $14.5 million-acre feed available and 16.5 million versus 14.5 million, there is a two million acre foot deficit there. and it's causing increasing concern. so these water shortages that are possible because of climate change combined with drought cycles that are normal, have the potential to cause great political tension and couldn't vers--controversy. the river levels in the colorado river basin is most likely to get lower. that means serious impacts for businesses, homes, for farmers
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in seven states an two countries. -- and two countries. so the longer we wait to take practical steps to adjust climate change, the harder it will become to deal with them. and the good news is -- is that we have options that will do more than address global climate change. these are policies we ought to be adopting anyway. they've simply added significance now and they make perfectly common sense. to return, then, to the water act, which i came to the floor to discuss. this is a prime example of how we can adapt and take some steps today that benefit all of us. if consumers in the colorado river basin install water sense products, they'll decrease the demand on the colorado river basin, reduce the water and energy bills and head off an impending problem as a result of
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climate change. this is a win-win-win across the board. and, again, i come to the floor to ask my colleagues to join me in supporting what is a common sense, bipartisan, bicameral effort to save taxpayers money and take a practical step toward water conservation. madam president, i would also add, once again, we would be leading the world as it develops and the demand for water around the world increases, these products would be available in the marketplaces in china, india brazil, and the developing world which would help our economy and create jobs as well, which we are focused here singularly as united states senate. i know that is important in the presiding officer's state as well. madam president, i ask that my statement be printed in the record, following the text of this bill, and i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
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quorum call:
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mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. mr. mcconnell: and i ask consent that senator sessions and i be granted 20 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: madam president, this morning i'd like to turn my attention to the nomination of judge sonia sotomayor to the supreme court, and more specifically, to the so-called empathy standard that president obama employed in selecting her to the highest court in the land. the president has said repeatedly that his criteria for federal judges is their ability to empathize with certain groups, he said it as a senator and candidate for president and as president. i think we can take the president at his word about a judge wanting to exhibit this trait on the bench. based on a review of judge sotomayor's record, it's becoming clear to many that this is a trait he's found in this
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particular nominee. judge sotomayor's writings offer a window into what she believes having empathy for certain groups means when it comes to judging. and i believe once americans come to appreciate the real-world consequences to this view, they will find the empathy standard troubling as selecting men and women for the federal bench. a review of judge sotomayor's reviews an writings illustrate the point. the 2002 article in the berkley law journal has received a good deal of attention already for her troubling assertion that her gender and ethnicity would enable her to reach a better result than a man with different ethnicity. her advocates say that it was inartful, taken out of context of we have since learned, however, she has made this or similar assertions. other comments judge sotomayor
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made in the same law review article underscore rather than alleviate concerns with this particular approach to judging. she questioned the principle that judges should be neutral and said that the principle of impartiality is a mere aspiration that she's skeptical judges can achieve in all or even in most cases or even -- or even in most cases. madam president, i find it extremely troubling that judge sotomayor would question whether judges have the capacity to be neutral even in most cases. there's more. a few years after the publication of this particular law review article, judge sotomayor said the court of appeals is where policy is made. some might excuse this comment as an off-the-cuff remark, yet, it's also argue usual that it reflects a deeply held view about the role of a judge, a view that i believe most americans would find very
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worrisome. now, madam president, i'd like to talk today about one of judge sotomayor's cases that the supreme court is currently reviewing. in looking at how she handled it, i'm concerned that some of her own personal preferences and belief about policy may have influenced her decision. for more than a decade judge sotomayor was a leader in the port wreakian -- puerto rican legal defense fund. she was an advocate for many causes such as eliminating the death penalty she was responsible for monitoring all litigation the group filed. and was described as an ardent supporter of its legal efforts. it's been reported that her involvement in these projects stood out. and that she frequently met with the legal staff to review the
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status of cases. the group's most important projects was filing lawsuits against the city of new york based on its use of civil service exams. judge sotomayor, in fact, has been credited with helping to develop the group's policy of challenging those exams. in one of these cases the group sued the new york city police department on the grounds that its tests for promotion discriminated against certain groups. the suit alleged that too many caucasian officers were doing well on the exam and not enough hispanic and african-american officers were performing as well. the city settled a lawsuit by promoting some african-americans and hispanics who hadn't passed the test while passing over some white officers who had. well some of these white officers turned around and sued the city. they alleged that even


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