tv [untitled] CSPAN June 26, 2009 3:30am-4:00am EDT
they hope to bring the spending senate bill to the floor. live coverage of the senate on c-span 2. >> again, i want to thank my colleagues who put in a lot of work and time and in the midst of the demanding schedules here and voting and other committee responsibilities that every member of the committee has, i am particularly thankful to mike enzi who has been tremendously patient and worked through virtually every session and worked through this and my colleagues as well.
just to mention a couple of housekeeping matters, with the amendments agreed to in title five of the bill, and we have not touched on title one, and obviously, we have to come back to do that, but we have accepted my count about 85 of the amendments from are the republican side by unanimous consent. they are either consented or amended or passed be avote here and another 17 amendments worked out in the long-term care section. let me mention about the long-term care, because again, it is my hope to deal with that section and i promised my colleagues i would not bring up a section that i don't have scored. while the cbo scores it for us, and scores it with real savings and at least up to the proposal so far to now, the score is numbers from cbo and joint tax. the numbers we got from cbo, we could not get to joint tax in time last evening and they have not scored it, so i will not ask us to deal with that section even though senator gregg and others may want to make comments about that section generally.
there are 17 amendments we have agreed to already in the section. i commend the staff and others who have worked to reach an agreement on the amendments. so we have to come back to the section. regretfully, i had hoped to complete that but as i promised earlier i will not ask the colleagues to vote on a section that we didn't have the scoring for this morning. the cbo says that the section saves us that we have written so far, $59 billion over ten years, and now whether or not joint tax will agree with that number, i cannot say yet, but indications are early on we have some savings in that section. so there has been tremendous progress here. i know that we have had@@@@n%@
biologics, and as well for lack of a better description, the public option idea. so you will have a week, at least a week to review, that and consider amendments and so forth before we come back the following week to then come back and try to finish up over the remaining days those sections, but if tact that we have done title two, three, four, and at least part of title five already is something i appreciate very much. i realize there has not been complete agreement on all of these matters and quite the opposite in many of the areas, but we have put in the time on this and obviously the first phase of what will involve many phases before this product ends up anything close to a final product, and obviously a lot more work to be done, and i would like to begin work with the finance committee as well over the break on matters that we have at least completed to see about the melding of these ideas with them and start that conversation. there has already been a lot already, but hopefully to move it along further. with that, let me turn to
senator enzi who may have opening comments, mike, and i know that senator gregg has some comments, right, judd? and with that we will go to senator harkin has the senate agreement for two amendments we have reached agreement on already. >> i will refer to senator gregg since he is ranking member on the budget committee looks at these scores for us, and would give us comments on where we are to date, and where we are going. >> good. >> well -- i appreciate the chairman's decision not to go forward the class act because we don't have joint tax and of course we don't have jurisdiction over the tax section, but it is important to put in con text the cbo's score in context, because what the class act is creating is a brand new entitlement and brand new major entitlement for long-term health care and yes over the first ten years, it is logical
to score positively, because premiums will come in and people who are able to take advantage of the long-term care coverage will not have moved into long term care facilities over the first ten years, the majority of them. so it is very unlikely that there is a significant drawdown on that account, but if you go outside of the ten-year window and you look ta 40-year life of the program which is the context that you put programs like medicare and social security in, and this is an adjunct essentially, a brand new part d premium type of event, you are talking about independent actuaries who have looked at this saying it will cost $2 trillion in new unfunded liability. we already have as a nation somewhere around $60 trillion of unfunded liability. unfunded liability. just in medicare, medicaid and
social security. this bill is suggesting that we add another $2 trillion to that. in my opinion, that is totally irresponsible. the debt we are putting into this country and on to the children's back is going to bankrupt our nation, bankrupt our children and make our nation a pauper. we know that. the president knows that. he has even said it is unsustainable and for us to suggest or bring forward language that would aggravate that problem by $2 trillion is absolutely fiscally irresponsible. now i have listened to the president this week, as he has been aggressive in promoting health care. he says he has three standards. the first standard is that everybody in america should have access to adequate insurance. second standard is that we should bend the outyear cost curve so that we can afford health care in this country, and the third standard is that nobody should lose their plan if
they like their plan. i think that everybody agrees with those standards as purposes. i certainly agree with them, and i don't know of anybody on our side who doesn't and obviously the other side, but i don't understand if we are marking thup bill if those are his standards, because cbo on all three of the elements has rated this bill to be an abject failure on the issue of coverage after this bill is fully in place, and there will be 30 million people without insurance and the 40 million people who don't have insurance, there is still 30 million people without insurance. on the issue of cost, when this bill is fully implemented and not counting the class action count which is $2 trillion over 40 years, there is is a $2.3 trillion unfunded liability in this bill, and that is just for the one-sixth of the bill that we know about. you know, the blank section we can't score, but we know it is the most expensive, so you are talking about a bill that will spend $3-plus trillion.
that is not bending the out-year cost curve, because you don't control spending by radically increasing spending. on the issue of coverage and keeping your policy, cbo says that 15 million people will no longer have private insurance, so that to me, why are we marking up a bill that doesn't meet the president's test, and why would we consider a section that is going to add $2 trillion of new unfunded liability to an already unsustainable liability of $60 million unfunded liability. now, i appreciate the fact of the chairman and members who have been handling different sections has been very cooperative in taking technical changes, and most of the amendments are technical, and some are largely substantive, but on the core substantive issues this bill fails on the
president's test. something has to be changed here. first in the area of coverage, second in the area of cost drivers and third in the area of ohow you find out that people don't lose their poll sficies i they like them or else the standards that we have all signed on to are not going to be met. i have spent the vast majority of the effort i have put into the congress since i have been here is to try to control the rising cost of entitlements because i see it as a threat to the children's future and the nation's sustainability, and it is just, i think a dramatic departure from fiscal responsibility to have this class action in the bill. you can claim the ten-years' savings. you can claim that, i don't argue with that, absolutely, but over 40 years, you are putting $2 trillion of costs on to the kids that you are not paying
for. >> i thank the senator for his comments, but i fundamentally disagree with the conclusions. we agree on the principles and the president has outlined them, and that is to cover as many of the fellow citizens as we can and have a quality program obviously, and one where people have choices, and they don't lose the plan they have. if they like it, they can choose doctors, hospitals, insurance coverage, but most importantly as well, the president has said this over and over and over again. i certainly feel strongly about what i am about to say, and that is that this bill has to be deficit-neutral and what we are talking about here has to be paid for. my friend and colleague from new hampshire has identify what we received earlier from some estimates and proposals dealing with coverage. they are numbers that did provide sticker shock in terms of the cost, and the number of people who will be affected. those proposals are no longer operative and have not been drafted by the committee. we are still working to find out how to get coverage, how do we
get numbers down for the cost of this program, so it is deficit-neutral over the ten years, and how do you get the numbers up of those who are going to be covered and participate. it is no small challenge. seven american presidents in as many congresses in the last 60 years have grappled with the issues and none have succeeded. as my colleague has pointed out and the president and i do, the present system is unsustainable and it has to be address sod we have -- addressed so we have to sit down to discuss how to accomplish the goal that we all want. senator enzi agrees on this. the question of how we get there and how we do this is where the debate is. it is hardly a debate completed or overwith or a fate decome plea, and grappling with the numbers so that it is is a pay or play, and stay in the
employer-based plans. that is critically important, if we end up with a massive migration out of the employer-based plans, we have a whole other issue to grapple with. i am the first to admit, this is a difficult set of problems to grapple with and identify, and it has defied solution for over half a solution. but the fact is that 14,000 people a day are losing their health care coverage and those who have it can't afford it, and if they have it, out of pocket expenses make it impossible to play. 80 to 90 million of our fellow citizens in a calendar year are without health insurance coverage. every one of us here in the desk have health coverage and we have the federal health benefit package and while we are worried about the crisis, none of us have to worry about paying for it, because we have a good health care plan, but that is not true for our millions of citizens, and they need that help and the economy cannot sustain the system that is going to cost as much as 50% of
people's gross income and in very few short years if we do not respond to. this so it is a critical time and a time to come together on this, and i am determined to try the achieve this. obviously, this is the irs if phase of this and it will take melding bills together, and working with the house and working with the president and others to come up with a final package to do the exact things that senator gregg has talked about, providing insurance for all, a quality program, as well as of course to see to it that we have really the ability for people to remain where they are if they like that. so, those are the challenges before us, but i hope that before we decide that something is an abject failure even before we have had a chance to propose ideas and to work with each other, the american people i think are looking for some optimism and looking for us not to sit at a table like this as we unfortunately always do where we are divided by republicans and democrats. they want us to act as americans
here and come together where we can and knowing there are differences on how we approach these matters, but they fully expect us to work together to come up with a solution. that is the challenge. and virtually everyone at this table has been a chairman at one point or another of a committee, and majority or minority status and it is not easy to pull them together to come up with a product. one quarter of the united states senate is working at this and not to mention the other body in the white house who are trying to pull together something that makes sense. the easiest thing for me to do at this point is to throw up my hands in frustration and say it will not work and we are no different than any other congress that has preceded us. we cannot solve it and cannot do that, so let's move on to something else and maybe some future congress can come up with the answer. but none of us want to be indicted by history because we have not come up with an answer of how to pay for this to make it deficit-neutral, but allow us
to increase access for million of americans who are excluded in a quality system to allow people to get good health care in the future. that is the daunting challenge that faces us. we have done a good job and i have thanked my colleagues on prevention and quality and workforce issues, and i realize that not every amendment has been agreed to and we have not reached accommodation on every single point, but most of us believe that we are headed in the right direction in this matter. so i think it is time that we take that break, obviously, with this fourth of july break coming up to step back and take a breath. have some ideas that we can put on the table, and ask our staffs to work and listen to each other before we come back on the sixth of july, and confront the remaining issues that this committee has the responsibility to deal with, and then to work with our remaining colleagues on other committees to try to put this thing together in the end, and in the end it may fail and may not make it, but i hope it is not the conclusion, but i don't believe in declaring failure before we have started the process. that is not the answer that the
american people want to hear. they want to know we have rolled up the sleeves and gone to work on it and doing our very best to come up with an answer. every single day that we are here, we have an obligation to try to get this right. everyday we are going to be away for the next 10 days another 14,000 people everyday are going to fall through the cracks, every single day that many will lose health care. imagine, if you will for a minute that you are that father or mother or that family and lord forbid that something happens in that family that puts them at risk, and all of the sudden, they find themselves without the ability to care for their child or spouse, and none of us want to be in the position and none of us want to see our constituents in that moment. we won't solve that problem, obviously if we pass a bill five minutes from now. i realize that there are provisions that don't kick in immediately, and i realize that it won't solve the answer immediately, but the idea to come up with some kind of security that the family is counting on us is something we