Alexander: “Democratic Policies Are Pushing States Over a Financial Cliff, Turning Them into Bankrupt Wards of the Central Government”

Says “Senators Who Vote for This Health Care Bill Should Be Sentenced to Serve as Governor and Try to Pay for It”

Posted on January 20, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate:

  • “Massachusetts voters yesterday sent a clear message that the Democratic majority in Congress is not in touch with the American people and that we should restart the health care debate. Senator-elect Scott   Brown’s independent voice will help provide a much-needed check and balance to a Congress that has become dominated by more taxes, more spending and more Washington takeovers.”


  • “Nothing demonstrates that need more than the so called health care reform—a 2,700-page attempt to remodel 17 percent of the American economy that was concocted in secret, presented to the Senate over the weekend before Christmas during the worst snowstorm in years, voted on in the middle of the night and passed five days later on Christmas Eve without one single Republican vote.”


  • “Now that the people have spoken, we should abandon these arrogant notions of trying to turn our entire health care system upside down all at once and instead set a clear goal of reducing health care costs, and then work together step by step to re-earn the trust of the American people – an approach Republican senators urged exactly 173 times on the floor of the Senate during the last year.”


  • “A good place to restart the health care debate would be to abandon plans to send a huge bill to states to pay for Medicaid expansion.”


  • The sixty senators who voted for this so-called health care reform  legislation ought to be sentenced to go home and serve as governor for two terms and try to pay for it.


  • “Because what these senators would find is that states are broke and that there will be either higher state taxes or higher college tuition or both to pay for what the Democratic governor of Tennessee has called ‘the mother of all unfunded mandates.’  That mandate arrogantly expands Medicaid and, to help pay for it, will send a three-year, $25 billion bill to governors, who in turn will send the bill to taxpayers and students.  That’s like your big-spending Uncle Sam hiring someone to paint your house and then sending the bill to you, even though you’ve told Uncle Sam that you’ve spent all your available money sending your kid to college.  Remember, Uncle Sam doesn’t have to balance his budget, but you do.”


  • “I speak today not only as a United States Senator but as a former governor worried about our states and as a former president of a great public university worried about our college students, many of whom are seeking an education to find a job.  Washington policies are turning our federal constitutional system upside down. They are transforming autonomous state governments into bankrupt wards of the central government.  In doing so, they are making it harder for states to support public higher education, therefore damaging its quality and the opportunity for Americans to afford it.  Gov. Schwarzenegger of California says ‘with a $19 billion deficit the last thing we need is another $3 billion bill [for Medicaid].’  At the University of California, students are paying a 32 percent tuition increase.  Why?  Because, according to The New York Times, ‘the University of California now receives only half as much support from the state per student as it did in 1990.’  And why is that?  Because when governors make up their budgets, it usually comes down to a choice between exploding Medicaid costs and higher education, and Medicaid—hopelessly entangled with expensive Washington policies and mandates—wins.”


  • “The second recent big blow to states and to public higher education has been the stimulus package, which was hailed as bailing states out but instead will soon push them over a financial cliff.”


  • “Now some in Washington are suggesting a new stimulus program to bail out the states.  Why should we even consider such a thing when the last stimulus package is about to help the push the states off a financial cliff?  And why would we pass a new health care bill that makes it worse for states—that is, for every state but Nebraska?”


  • “The No. 1 topic on the minds of most Americans today is jobs. Running up the cost of health care, raising state taxes, damaging the quality of our universities and community colleges and restricting access to them is a good way to kill jobs, not to create jobs.”


  • “Wouldn’t a better course be to restart the health care debate, and take a series of steps to reduce health care costs without the Medicaid mandate?  Instead of expanding Medicaid and sending the states the bill, why not reform Medicaid which has become an embarrassing, administrative nightmare where $30 billion a year goes to waste, fraud and abuse, according to the Government Accountability Office?   Instead of dumping 15 to 18 million more low-income Americans into a Medicaid program in which 50 percent of doctors won’t take new patients, shouldn’t we try a better idea?”