tv Book TV After Words CSPAN December 21, 2009 12:00am-1:00am EST
americans toward politics and public service her class starts at 7:00. please me brief if you can. the senate is coming back again. texas? >> caller: i am for it. i am for the bill because i am a veteran myself. if i did not have my virginia benefits and i just lost my job, i would be stock. my partner, his wife quit her job and a company will not even let her put him on the insurance policy. there's a lot of people without health care and it is sad. i think some of those senators should have some of these people out here it. >>host: okay. florida we brief.
>> caller: i am canadian born and raised and was their most of my life and want to tell you you have no idea how terrible this will be. >>host: want to take you back to the floor of the senate. beginning live coverage with c-span2 and in one hour from now the first of the key votes on it cloture which could lead to a final vote to possibly on christmas eve or sooner. enjoy the rest of your night. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order. the chaplain, dr. barry black, will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray.
eternal god, help of the ages, as we labor a great while before day, give our lawmakers the wisdom to see the right and the courage to do it. cause them to be men and women of integrity, so that our citizens can lead quiet and peaceful lives in all godliness and honesty. remind our senators that you have called them to be servants of the people during this challenging season, so that they must not succumb to pessimism and cynicism or grow weary in well doing.
gird them with fortitude. illumine them with the light of truth, and make them more than conquerors in the faith that the kingdoms of this world are to become the one and radiant kingdom of your redeeming love. lord, please remind the many workers who support the legislative process that you see their diligence and will reward their faithful sacrifices. we pray in your great name. amen. the presiding officer: please
join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance to the flag. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, december 21, 2009. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable mark udall, a senator from the state of colorado, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: robert c. byrd, president pro tempore. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the time until 1:00 a.m. will be equally divided and controlled between the two leaders or their designees, with the majority leader controlling the final ten minutes prior to 1:00 a.m. and the republican leader controlling the ten minutes immediately prior. mr. alexander: mr. president?
the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: mr. president, i intend to take ten minutes of the republican time. will you please let me know when one minute remains. the presiding officer: the senator will be notified. mr. alexander: i thank you, mr. president. mr. president, there may be a number of americans who are switching over from the minnesota v. carolina football game and they may be wondering what in the world is the united states senate doing coming into session at midnight on a sunday in the middle of a snowstorm and getting ready to vote at 1:00 a.m. so let me try to explain that for just a moment. the reap is that the majority leader, the democratic majority leader, who's the only one that can set our schedule, showed up yesterday with a 400-page amendment. yesterday. this amendment had been written in secret for the last six weeks. the assistant democratic leader said last week on the floor he had no idea what was in it. of course, none of us on the republican side knew what was in it. so almost no one here knew what was in it.
it was presented to us and then the democratic leader said, well, we're going to start voting on it and we're going to pass it before christmas. now, this is an amendment to the health care bill which when fully implemented will cost about $2.5 trillion over ten years, according to the congressional budget office, which restructures one-sixth of our economy, which affects 300 million people, which will raise taxes by about a trillion dollars when fully implemented over ten years, which will cut medicare by about a trillion dollars when fully implemented over ten years, not to make medicare more solvent, because, as we know, it's -- it's going to become insolvent, according to its trustees, by 2015. but to spend on a new entitlement. and it will also shift to the states a great many expenses, so much so that our democratic governor has said it's the mother of all unfunded mandates. the governor of california has said it's the last thing we ne
need. take your time, get it right. but the democratic leader and his colleagues insist that we need to bring this up in the middle of a snowstorm, write it in secret, vote on it in the middle of the night, and get it passed before christmas eve. now, why would they want to do that? well, mr. president, i think the answer is very clear. it's because they want to make sure they pass it before the american people find out what's in it. because the american people by nearly 2-1, according to the cnn poll, don't like what they've heard about the health care bi bill. and when they have to start explaining what's in it, they're afraid it will be worse and it will never pass. republicans are not the only ones who believe that we ought to stop and think about big issues before we deal with it. eight democratic senators -- senator lincoln and bayh and landrieu, lieberman, mccaskill, nelson, pryor and webb -- wrote senator reid on october 6, saying, as you know,
to senator reid, "americans across our country have been actively engaged in the debate on health care reform. without a doubt, reforming health care reform in america is one of the most monumental and far-reaching undertakings considered by this body in decades. we believe the public's participation in this process is critical to our overall success." i'm quoting from the eight democratic senators. and they go on to say they want to make sure that the bill is on the web site for at least 72 hours before we vote on it. mr. president, this bill was given to us yesterday, 400 pages of it we hadn't seen before. 72 hours would be tuesday. so the minimum requirement, according to the eight democratic senators and all 40 republican senators, we shouldn't even think about voting on it until at least tuesday. and then one would think we would be amending it and debating it and considering it and thinking about it and trying to find out what it actually does. according to the eight democratic senators, by publicly
posting the legislation and the congressional budget office scores 72 hours before it's brought to a vote in the senate and by publishing the text of amendments as they're debated, our constituents will have the opportunity to evaluate these policies. as their democratic elected representatives, it's our duty to listen and to provide them with a chance to respond to proposals that will impact their lives. yet we're presented with it in the middle of a snowstorm on saturday, we're meeting at midnight, we're voting at 1:00 a.m., we're -- it's demanding that it be passed even though most of the provisions, as the senator from maine has said, don't even begin to take effect for four more years. what's the rush, mr. president? i think the rush is that our friends on the other side don't want to explain to 40 million seniors how you can cut a trillion dollars out of medicare. now, it's exactly $470 billion over the next ten years, but
when fully implemented, a trillion out of medicare and spend it on a new program without reducing medicare services to 40 million seniors. the director of the congressional budget office has already that said for the 11 million seniors who are on medicare advantage that fully half their benefits will be affected. i think our friends on the other side don't want the american people to understand why the $578 billion in new taxes that are going to begin to be imposed next year, they're going to have a hard time explaining how that will create new jobs in america at a time when we have 10% unemployed. and they really don't want the american people to find out that the director of the congressional budget office said that if we put those new taxes on insurance premiums, on medical devices, all al almost f them will be passed on to the consumers, and as a result, premiums will go up. there are some very strong words
that have been coming from the other side about republicans saying that this bill will actually increase the cost of health care. it's not republicans who are saying that, mr. president. here's what david brooks in "the new york times" said in his analysis of the bill when he gave the reasons for it and the reasons against it this week. and came to the conclusion that if he were a senator, he'd vote against it. the second reason to oppose this bill, said mr. brooks is that -- and i quote -- "according to the chief actuary for medicare, it will cause national health care spending to increase faster." that's right, mr. president, we're going to raise taxes, cut medicare, send the big bill to the state. all for what? quote -- "according to the chief actuary for medicare, it will cause national health care spending to increase faster." so if you're paying x for premiums, you're going to be paying more as a result of this bill. health care spending goes -- continues david brooks, "is already zooming past 17% of our
gross domestic product to 22% and beyond." then it's going to be hard to explain to the 9 million people that the congressional budget office letter said would lose their employer insurance under this bill why that will happen. of course, it will happen because under the bill as a whole, as employers look at the mandates and the costs, many will decide not to offer health insurance and so those employees will find themselves either in medicaid, the program for low-income americans into which 15 million americans are going, a program which 50% of doctors won't see new medicaid patients. it's like giving you a ticket to a bus when the bus only runs half the time. that's where many of these americans will go. or they'll go into the individual market and the individual market will have higher premiums. now, the other side says, ah,
but there will be subsidies for some of you. but the premiums are going to be higher. the health care costs are going to be higher. the majority doesn't want to explain why this bill changes the bipartisan agreement not to have federal funding for abortion that's been agreed to since 1977. they don't want to take time for the american people to understand the class act, the long-term insurance act, a new entitlement, which sounds wonderful, but the democratic chairman of the budget committee described it as a ponzi scheme worthy of bernie madoff. that is because the amount of money that would be paid in -- a person pays a people are july of $28.80 per yea year for five ye, and then they'll have a long-term benefit for a long time after that. mr. president, it's obvious why the majority -- thank you, mr. president. it's obvious why the majority
has cooked up this amendment in secret, has introduced it in the middle of a snowstorm, has scheduled the senate to come in session at midnight, has scheduled a vote for 1:00 a.m., is insisting that it be passed before christmas -- because they don't want the american people to know what's in it. it's a deeply disappointing legislative result but our friends on the democratic side seem determined to pursue a political kamikaze mission toward a historic mistake which will be bad for the democrats, i am convinced, but, unfortunately, even much worse for our country. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. mccain: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona is recognized. mr. mccain: mr. president, as we approach in less than an hour the -- a very important vote. some have called it historic. some call it pivotal. some -- it's been given very -- various adjectives and adverbs.
i think it might be appropriate to discuss for a minute or two how this all began. it all began in the presidential campaign. i don't really like to spend much time recalling it. but health care was a big issue in the presidential campaign. and on october the 8th of 200 2008, just less than a month before the election, then-candidate obama said -- and i quote -- concerning health care reform -- quote -- "i'm going to have all the negotiations around a big table. we'll have negotiations televised on c-span so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies" -- keep that in mind, the drug companies -- "or the insurance companies." now, that was a statement made by then-senator/candidate obama. so what we have seen here -- what we have seen here is a dramatic departure.
there's never been a c-span camera. there's never been a negotiation, a serious negotiation, between republicans and the other side. there has never been. i s -- i say that with the knowledge, mr. president, of someone who has negotiated many times across the aisle on many agreements. so don't stand up and say that there were serious negotiations between republicans and democrats. there never were. but there was negotiations with the special interests, with phrma, the same ones that the president said he was going to see who the american people were on the side of. clearly this administration and that side of the aisle were on the side of phrma because they got a sweetheart deal of about about $100 billion that would have been saved if we had been able to reimport prescription drugs. the aarp has a sweetheart deal. there is a provision in this deal for them, plans that medigap insurance sold by aarp are exempt from tax on insurance
companies. the a.m.a. signed up because of the promise of a doc fix. there was throughout this. we should have set up a tent out in front and put persian rugs out in front of it. that's the way this has been conducted. so of course then the special interests were taken care of. then we had to take care of special senators. and one deal is called we've got new words in our lexicon now -- the louisiana purchase, the cornhusker kickback. i got a new name. the florida flimflam. the one that gives the medicare advantage members in florida around the country the benefit, but my constituents in medicare advantage don't. and so in answer to this -- in answer to a question today, the majority leader said, quote -- "a number of states are treated differently than other states." really? "a number of states are treated
different than other states. that's what the legislation is all about. that's compromise." where is that taught? where is that taught? a number of states are treated differently than other states. that's why legislation is all -- that is what legislation is all about. that's compromise. my friends, that's not what the american people call governing. that's called exactly what the -- an opposite, a contradiction to what the president of the united states said where he says we'll have negotiations televised on c-span so that people can see who is making arguments. i see the leader from illinois over there. just a few days ago, i said what's in the bill? the senator from illinois says i don't know. i'm in the dark, too. i can give him his own quote. so here we are, as the senator from tennessee said, in the middle of the night, and here we are, my friends, about to pass a bill with 60 votes. now, 60 votes represents 60% of
this body, but i can assure my friends on the other side of the aisle it doesn't represent 60% of the american people! in fact, 61% of the american people, according to a cnn poll, say they want this stopped. they approve -- they disapprove of it. and i guarantee you when you go against the majority opinion of the american people, you pay a heavy price, and you should, and you should. and i'll tell you -- i tell my colleagues right now that when you -- this will be -- if it is passed and we are not going to give up after this vote, believe me. when you -- for the first time in history, for the first time in history, there will be a major reform passed on a party-line basis. every reform -- and i have been part of them -- has been passed on a bipartisan basis. this will be a strict party-line basis. you know, i was thinking today
about this vote, and i was thinking about the other times and other examples i have had of courage or lack of or the fact that in the face of odds that you have to stand up for what you believe in, and i thought about back when i first entered the united states naval academy at the young age of 17, and one of the first things they told us about in our learning of naval traditions was about a battle that took place early in the revolutionary war. an american ship run by a captain engaged a british ship, the mighty british navy, and the american ship was outgunned and it was outmanned, and as they came together in mortal combat, the dead and dying all around and the british captain said do you surrender, and that captain, that captain john paul jones said "i have not yet begun to fight." i tell the american people we're going to go around this country, we're going to the town halls,
we're going to the senior centers, we're going to the rotary clubs, we're going to carry this message. we will not do this. we will not commit generational theft on future generations of americans. we won't give them another another $2.5 trillion of debt. we won't give them an unfair policy where deals are done in back rooms, and we, we, all of us on this side of the aisle will stand up for the american people and we have just begun to fight.
mr. harkin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa is recognized. mr. harkin: mr. president, you know, for the last several weeks, all we have heard from the other side is attack, attack, attack. all we have heard from the other side is no, no, no. you know, they keep talking. i just heard the senator from arizona saying that this is not a bipartisan bill, and i heard so much talk on the other side in the last several weeks about how this should be bipartisan. well, let's look at that for a second. as i see it, the republicans have no bill of their own. our bill has 60 democrats, a supermajority, a supermajority. well, i guess there is a bill over there. it's the coburn-burr bill. it has seven cosponsors.
that's it. that's it, nothing else. not all of the republicans are supporting it. my friends on the other side are all over the place. they can't even agree among themselves what they want to do. they have no comprehensive bill like we have come up with. so i keep hearing that we democrats are not bipartisan, but who do we deal with? just the senator from arizona, just the senator from tennessee? how about the senator from oklahoma or the senator from south carolina? well, i'm sorry. i feel sorry the republicans are all split up. they have not done their own homework, to pull their own senators together for something positive. so what they have done is they have pulled together to say no, to try to kill the reform bill that we have worked so hard on
all year. now, we extended a hand. now, if we had really wanted to ace out the republicans, we would have followed their lead and what they did in 2001 when they ran through that tax cut for the wealthy. they did it on reconciliation so we couldn't filibuster it, so we couldn't have any debate on it. that's what they did. that's what they did. we didn't do it that way. president obama said we want to hold the olive branch out, we want to work with republicans, so that's what we tried to do. under the leadership of senator dodd on our committee, we had numerous meetings with republicans. we had a markup session that lasted 13 days, 54 hours. we accepted 161 of their amendments. and in the end, everyone on the republican side voted against it. senator baucus bent over backwards. week after week he went -- he not only went the extra mile, he went the extra hundred miles to
try to get republicans to work with them on this bill. and in the end, only one republican would vote for the bill out of the committee. so that's what we have. we just have -- i'm sorry to say my friend on the other side were in total disarray. they have nothing we can agree on. well, we have something we have agreed on. 60. a supermajority that have greap greap -- that have agreed upon moving a bill forward, a pivotal point in our history in a decades-long march towards comprehensive health reform. eluded congresses and presidents going back to theodore roosevelt. my friends on the other side defend the status quo. they want us to vote our fears, fear, fear. everything you hear it seems on the other side is fear, be
afraid. well, it's not going to work this time because what the american people want is not fear. they want hope. they want the hope that they will have the health care that they need when they have to have it at a price that is affordable. they want to have the peace of mind and security of knowing that their children, if they have a pre-existing condition, will be covered by health insurance. they want to have the peace of mind of knowing if they lose a job, they don't lose their health insurance. the american people want the hope and the security of knowing that if they get ill, they won't be dropped by their insurance company. they want the hope and the security to know that they aren't just one illness away from bankruptcy. we are the only country in the world, the only one where people can go bankrupt because they owe a medical bill. no other country would allow that to happen. we're the only one.
this bill is going to stop that. people won't have to fear going bankrupt because someone in their family got a chronic illness for a disease that's going to cost a lot of money. the american people want us to move forward, and we're going to do it tonight at 1:00. we're going to move forward. we're not going to vote fears. we're going to vote hope. we're going to tell the american people that we are going to do three big things. first of all, we're going to cover 94% of americans with health insurance. 94%. 31 million people out there without health insurance are going to get health insurance. secondly, we're going to crack down on the abuses of the insurance companies. no more canceling your policy
just because you got sick. no more lifetime caps, which basically cause more and more people to go into bankruptcy. no more of those lifetime caps. we're going to make sure your kids can stay on their policy until they are age 26. we're going to do away with all these pre-existing condition clauses. next year for children up to age 18 and then for everyone later on after we get the exchanges set up. insurance companies will not be able to rescind your policies or drop you because you got cancer or heart disease. and if you're a person, if you're out there and you have your own health insurance policy right now and you like it, you can keep it, you can keep it. but guess what this bill will do. it will lower your premiums and it will improve your coverage if you want to keep your own health insurance that you have right
now. mr. president, every year about 45,000 americans die in this country because they have no health insurance. johns hopkins did a study and said that kids, children, who have no health insurance are 60% more likely to die because of hospitalizations than kids who have health insurance coverage. it's a moral disgrace. the health insurance policies of america, what we have right now, is a moral disgrace. you can talk to people from other countries, our closest allies, our closest friends that share so many of our values. and when they find out about our health system, they say how can you put up with it? this is disgraceful. you're the leader of the free world. you're supposed to set the example. and what a terrible example we have set in health care.
what a terrible example. we finally arrived, mr. president, at one of the most significant moments in the history of the united states senate, one of the most significant. our former chairman, senator ted kennedy, who fought all his life for national health insurance, who years ago, back in the 1960's said that health care ought to be a right, not a privilege, said that over 40 years ago, almost 50 years ago, that health care should be a right and not a privilege. it was always his highest priority. it was his great dream of an america where quality, affordable health care is that right. he thought of it as a moral imperative.
a more imperative. a lot of times we lose that. we hear all this debate about how much this and this and who's going to lose this and all these scare tactics. we see all these numbers and all that kind of stuff. we forget the essence of it. it is a moral imperative. we are called upon to right a great injustice, a great wrong that's been put upon the american people for far too long. it is a moral imperative that confronts us now, that we will vote on in a half an hour. we are closer than we've ever been to making ted kennedy's dream a reality. a lot of people have worked very hard on this bill. i mentioned senator baucus. i mentioned senator dodd. senator reid, our leader. the amount of hours that he has spent and the days he has spent
here without his family, without going home, being here all the time working. our assistant leader, senator durbin. so many people have worked so hard on this bill. we've had so much input on this. everyone has had input on this bill. our republican friends have had input on this bill. they had it in our committees. i said we accepted 161 amendments. so i guess you can say this bill has a lot of authors. but there's really only one author of this bill: senator ted kennedy. senator ted kennedy. it's his bill because it does get us the start -- the start. to my friends, i say this is not the end of health care reform. it's the beginning. but we must make this beginning in order to fulfill that dream and really make health care a
right, not a privilege. so in a half an hour, let's make history. the other side says fear. we say hope. the other side says no. we say yes. we say yes to progress, yes to people, yes to health care as an inalienable right of every american citizen. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president, parliamentary inquiry. the presiding officer: the senator from texas is recognized. mr. cornyn: mr. president, earlier today senator grassley raised a parliamentary inquiry on, based on rule 44 of the standing rules of the senate. as my colleagues will recall, this was a rule that the senate passed pursuant to the honest leadership and open government
act of 2007. and the question had to do with whether the manager's amendment that we're getting ready to vote on complied with rule 44's earmark disclosure requirement. at the time the chair indicated the disclosure list was not submitted. at the time that was about 6:00 p.m. today. my inquiry is: is the chair aware of the disclosure list being made available as required by rule 44 now as we vote in the next 30 minutes? the presiding officer: the chair is not aware at this time whether that statement has been made. the senator from connecticut is recognized. mr. dodd: mr. president, i want to take a few closing minutes if i can. i spoke earlier this evening about the importance of this moment that we all have come to appreciate, i believe, a moment that has been years in the making. going back, as all have pointed out, or most pointed out in favor of this legislation, dating back to the early part of the last century with theodore,
a former republican who first advocated the notion of a national health care system in our nation. harry truman articulated in very specific terms. it was 69 years ago this month, mr. president, that mr. roosevelt identified the four freedoms. the freedom of religion, the freedom of speech, the freedom from want and the freedom from fear. it is that last freedom that franklin roosevelt talked about in december of 1941 that is deserving of our attention at these closing minutes. whatever else one may argue about the specifics of this bill it is that fear that so many of our fellow citizens have over whether or not they will be confronted with a health care crisis and have the resources to address it and the ability to have a doctor, a physician, a health care provider, a hospital to provide them with that kind of help when they need it. that fear is not just for those
who are without health care, even for those who have health care insurance. that fear persists. this evening, more than anything else, beyond the specifics of the legislation in front of us is our desire to address that freedom, that freedom from fear that was addressed so eloquently almost 70 years ago. so this evening we attempt anyway to begin that journey of eliminating those fears that so many of our fellow citizens have over the loss or the inability to acquire the kind of health insurance or the ability to have a doctor. so we're poised to make a monumental vote on legislation that finally makes access to quality health care a right for every american. if you don't believe it's a right, it's only a privilege, i suppose you could come to a different conclusion. and there are those, i guess, who believe it is a privilege to have access to health care as an american citizen. those of us on this side of the aisle believe it is a right that you have. and as such, as a right, you
ought not to be denied that right based on the economic circumstances, your gender, your ethnicity in this nation. you ought to have access to that health care as a fundamental right in our nation. obviously we need to participate, engage in responsible activities that will make sure that we contribute to the well-being of all of our nation to reduce the cost of health care. this is a comprehensive bill. it's been more than not just a year specifically on this effort, but goes back 40 or 50 years in terms of drafting and efforts have been made to achieve what we're trying to achieve this evening. at the end of the day, however, this legislation is really about freedom from fears, i said a moment ago. the bill frees americans from the fear that if they lose their job they'll never find insurance coverage again. the bill frees americans from the fear that they might get sick and be unable to afford the treatment they need. and the bill frees americans from the fear that one illness, one accident could cost them everything they built -- their
homes, their retirement, their life savings. in a nation, mr. president, founded on freedom and sustained by unimaginable prosperity, as i mentioned before, this bill is long overdue and critically important. no american can be free from fear when getting sick could mean going broke. this fight is older than most of us who serve in this body. our path has been illuminated by a torch lit years ago in the days of harry truman and sustained for decades by good people, republicans and democrats, the nixon administration, the clinton administration, members like john chafee who worked tirelessly trying to craft a good health care bill. you heard others talk about the greets they had not acknowledging his ideas when he proposed them. we might have been able to address this issue years and years ago. so good people have tried to come up with some answers to this issue. it is with a note of sadness this evening that we're going to have a partisan vote on this matter.
i wish it were otherwise. i'd like to point out that of course many others have fought and khaoepblged us to -- and challenged us to come up with these answers. but tonight this is our answer, the 60 of us who will vote to go forward with this. as senator harkin pointed out, this is hardly the final matter on this answer but it allows us to begin that process of addressing these issues in a more thoughtful and comprehensive way in the years ahead. of course no one was a better champion of all this, as senator harkin pointed out, that than or beloved colleague from massachusetts, senator ted kennedy. he understood you could never solve all of these issues in one fell swaofplt it was going to take an incremental approach to get us there. while i can guarantee you if he were to read this bill there would be disappointments he'd have in it. if he could have written it on his own, he'd write it differently. i guarantee you as i stand here
this evening that were he among us this evening he would urge all of us to move forward on this bill, address it, vote forward to allow this nation to begin to gap pell with this issue -- grapple with this issue that should have been solved more than 50 years ago. this evening as we come down to the final minutes of this debate, let us remind ourselves that i think history will judge us well for taking up this challenge once again and asking ourselves to give americans the opportunity to live with freedom from those fears that they have this very evening. and tonight we begin to alleviate those fears. and i urge my colleagues to support this effort. i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: stphr-pt. the presiding officer: the republican leader --
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader is recognized. mr. mcconnell: tonight marks the culmination of a long national debate. passions have rung high, and that's appropriate. because the bill we're voting on tonight will impact the life of every american. it will shape the future of our country. it will determine whether our children can afford the nation they inherit. it is one of the most consequential votes any of us will ever take, and none of us take it lightly. but make no mistake, if the people who wrote this bill were proud of it, they wouldn't be
forcing this vote in the dead of night. here are just some of the deals we've noticed. $100 million for an unnamed health care facility at an unnamed university somewhere in the united states. the bill doesn't say where. and no one will even step forward to claim it. one state out of 50 -- one state out of 50 -- gets to expand medicaid at no cost to itself while taxpayers in the other 49 states pick up the tab. the same senator who cut that deal secured another one that benefits a single insurance company. just one insurance company in
his state. do the supporters of the bill know this? i would say to my colleagues, you think that's fair to all of your states? what about the rest of the country? the fact is a year after the debate started, few people would have imagined that this is how it would end. with a couple of cheap deals, a couple of cheap deals and a rushed vote at 1:00 in the morning. but that's where we are. and americans are wondering tonight how did this happen? how did this happen? so i'd like to take a moment to
explain to the american people how we got here, to explain what's happened and, yes, what's happening now. everyone in this chamber agrees that we need health care, health care reform. everybody agrees on that. the question is how? some of us have taken the view that the american people want us to tackle the cost issue, and we proposed targeted steps to do it. our friends on the other side have taken the opposite approach, and the result has been just what you'd expect. the final product is a mess. a mess. and so is the process that has brought us here to vote on a bill that the american people overwhelmingly oppose.
any challenge of this size and scope has always been dealt with on a bipartisan basis. the senior senator from maine made that point at the outset of the debate and reminded us all of how these issues have typically been handled throughout our history. the social security act of 1935 was approved by all by six members of the senate. the medicare act of 1965 only had 21 dissenters. and the americans with disabilities act in 1990 only had eight senators who voted no. americans believe that on issues of this importance, one party
should never be allowed to force its will on the other half of the nation. the proponents of this bill felt differently. in a departure from history, democratic leaders put together a bill so heavy with tax hikes, medicare cuts, and government intrusion that in the end, their biggest problem wasn't convincing republicans to support it, it was convincing the democrats. in the end, the price of passing this bill wasn't achieving the reforms americans were promised. it was a blind call to make history, even if it was a historical mistake. which is exactly what this bill will be if it is passed.
because in the end, this debate isn't about differences between two parties, it's about a $2.3 trillion, 2,733-page health care reform bill that does not reform health care and, in fact, makes the price of it go up. the plan i'm announcing tonight, the president said on september the 9th, "will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government." "my plan," the president said, "would bring down premiums by $2,500 for the typical family." "i'll not sign a plan that adds a dime to our deficit," the president said, "either now or
in the future." and on taxes? no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase, he said. he said he wouldn't cut medica medicare. he said people who like the plans they have wouldn't lose their coverage. and americans were promised an open and honest debate. that's what i'll do in bringing all parties together, then-senator obama said on the campaign trail. not negotiating behind closed doors but bringing all parties together and broadcasting these negotiations on c-span. well, that was then.
and this is now. but here's the reality. the democrat bill we're voting on tonight raises health care costs. that's not me talking, it's the administration's own budget score keeper. it raises premiums. that's not -- that's the nonpartisan congressional budget office talking. it raises taxes on tens of millions of middle-class americans, and it plunders medicare by half a trillion dollars. it forces people off the plans they have, including millions of seniors. it allows the federal governme government, for the first time in our history, to use taxpayer dollars for abortions. so a president who was voted into office on a promise of change said he wanted to lower
premiums. that changed. he said he wouldn't raise taxes. that changed. he said he wanted lower costs. that changed. he said he wouldn't cut medica medicare. and that changed too. and 12 months and $2.3 trillion later, lawmakers who made these same promises to their constituents are poised to vote for a bill that won't bend the cost curve, that won't make health care more affordable, and that will make real reform even harder to achieve down the road. now, i understand the pressure our friends on the other side are feeling and i don't doubt
for a moment their sincerity. but my message tonight is this: the impact of this vote will long outlive this one frantic, snowy weekend in washington. mark my words -- this legislation will reshape our nation. and americans have already issued their verdict. they don't want it. they don't like this bill. and they don't like lawmakers playing games with their health care to secure the votes they need to pass it. let's think about that for a moment. we know the american people are overwhelmingly opposed to this bill.
and yet the people who wrote it won't give the 300 million americans whose lives will be profoundly effected by it as much as 72 hours to study the details. imagine that. when we all woke up yesterday morning, we still hadn't seen the details of the bill we're being asked to vote on before we go to sleep tonight. when we woke up yesterday morning, we still hadn't seen the details of the bill we're going to be asked to vote on before we go to sleep tonight. how can anybody justify this approach? particularly in the face of such widespread and intense public opposition? can all of these americans be wrong?
don't their concerns count? party loyalty can be a powerful force, we all know that, but americans are asking the democrats to put party loyalty aside tonight, to put the interest of small business owners, taxpayers, and seniors first. and there's good news. it's not too late. all it takes is one, just one. all it takes is one. one can stop it. one can stop it or everyone will own it.
one can stop it or every single one will own it. my colleagues, it is not too late. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader is recognized. mr. reid: all over this great country of ours, people are dying soon, far too soon. more and more americans who come down with the flu or even develop diabetes, suffer a stroke are dying far earlier than modern science says they should die. more and more americans who contract skin cancer or have a heart condition are dying rather than being cured.
pull out the medical records of these patients and the official forms will tell you they died from complications of disease or maybe some surgery. but what's really killing more and more americans every day are complications due to our health care system. much of our attention this year has been consumed by this health care debate. and a national study done by harvard university found that 45,000 times this year -- nearly 900 times every week -- more than 120 times every day, an average every 10 minutes without end, an american died as a result of not having health insurance. every ten minutes. the numbers are numbing. they don't even include those who did -- have health insurance but who died because they couldn't afford a plan that met their most basic needs. this country, the greatest and richest the world has he have see --has he have seen, is the y
advanced nation -- has ever seen, is the only advanced nation on earth where dying for lack of health insurance is even possible. and to make matters worse, we're paying for that privilege. the price of staying healthy in america goes up, it goes up, it goes up and not surprisingly, so do numbers of americans who can't afford it. in fact, medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcy in america. and there's -- the second choice is way down the list, it's medical bills. that's why we're here. just as we have the ability to prevent diseases from killing us too soon, we have before us the ability to provide quality health care to every american, and we have the ability to treat our unhealthy health care system. that's what this historic bill does, it protects patients and consumers, it lowers the cost of staying healthy, and greatly reduces our debt. this landmark legislation protects america's youngest citizens by making it illegal for insurance companies to
refuse to cover a child because of preexisting condition. mr. president, it protects america's oldest citizens by strengthening medicare and extending its life for almost a decade. we're also taking the first steps to close the notorious loophole known as the doughnut hole that costs seniors thousands of dollars each year for their prescription drugs. these are some of the reasons that aarp, the american association for the advancement of colored -- i'm sorry, the american associatioamerican assd people, not the naacp -- i'm sorry about that, mr. presiden mr. president -- these are some of the reasons that aarp and its 40 million americans are supporting this bill. contrary to what we heard my distinguished friend, the republican leader, say, premiums are reduced, mr. president, by 93 -- 93% of people who have insurance will have reduced premiums. this effort also strengthens our future by cutting our towering
national deficit by as much as $1.3 trillion over the next two decades. what my distinguished republican counterpart is saying is without basis in fact. these aren't numbers that i came up with. these are numbers the congressional budget came up with. $1.3 trillion. that's a trillion with a "t." it cuts the deficit more sharply than anything congress has done in a long, long time. it lowers costs. i've talked about medicare. my friend, the republican leader, said it's going to reshape our nation. that's why we're doing it, mr. president. that's why we're doing this. we want to reshape the health care delivery system in our country. is it right that america has 750,000 bankruptcies a year, about 08 approximate% of them ae
caused by -- about 80% of them are caused by health care costs. 62% of people who file bankruptcy have health insurance? we are reshaping the nation. that's what we want to do. we have to do it. with this vote, we're rejecting a system in which one class of people can afford to stay healthy while another cannot. it demands for the first time in american history that good health will not depend on great wealth. good health should not depend on how much money you have. it acknowledges finally that health care is a fundamental right. that my friend, senator harkin, spoke about so clearly. a human right, not just a privilege for the most important. president johnson, formerly the majority leader of the united states senate, signed medicare into law when he was president. with the advice -- and i quote -- "we need to see beyond the