Alexander Votes No on First Health Care Reform Bill

Says Bill Would Have Added a Quarter Trillion Dollars to National Debt, Calls for Reform Bill to Be Written Publicly

Posted on October 22, 2009

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) made the following remarks today on the floor of the Senate: • “Yesterday was the first vote on health care reform, and I think the American people got a very strong first impression from that vote. The leader sought to add a quarter trillion dollars to the national debt on the first health care vote. And the Senate said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that.’ All Republicans, all 40 of us, and 13 Democrats said no yesterday on the first vote on health care reform. We’re not going to start by adding a quarter of a trillion dollars to the national debt. We just finished a year in which we added $1.4 trillion to the debt, three times as much as the year before, and as much as we added to the entire national debt in the first 200 years of the republic.” • “When I was a young Senate aide in 1968, we had a very controversial issue before the Senate called the Civil Rights bill. Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States. Everett Dirksen was the Republican Leader sitting over where Mitch McConnell sits today and the Democratic majorities were bigger then than they are today. But President Johnson didn’t have the Democratic leader write the civil rights bill in a closed room in the Democratic leaders office. What did he do instead? He was very wise. He had it written in the Republican Leader’s office. So in Senator Everett Dirksen’s office in 1968 for several weeks, as I recall, several staff members and hangers on were going in and out, and the bill was written in the full light of day. And in the end, the bill passed—a bill that was more controversial and difficult than this health care bill, I’d say.” • “Increasingly, Americans are skeptical of this comprehensive $1 trillion-plus, full-of-surprises proposal that’s being written in the back room, and by growing margins they hope that we will focus clearly on reducing the cost of health care premiums, reducing the cost to our government and then going step by step in the right directions to make health care affordable for all Americans.”