Alexander Discusses Health Care Reform, Afghanistan on Fox News Sunday

Says Democrats’ Health Care Bill Feels Like Immigration Debate, Will Cost Americans Jobs

Posted on November 22, 2009

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today discussed the Democrats’ partisan $2.5 trillion health care bill and President Obama’s need to brief Congress on his plans for Afghanistan. Below are Senator Alexander’s remarks: On Republican health care proposals: • “Our goal is to let the American people know what it does for them and to them: that it has higher premiums, higher taxes, Medicare cuts, and puts 15 million more low-income Americans into a medical ghetto called Medicaid. We think if the American people know that, the bill will collapse of its own weight. Then we can get them going step by step toward reducing costs.” • “The bill is fundamentally flawed. If you expect Mitch McConnell to roll in a wheelbarrow with a 2,000-page bill, it's not going to happen. We have plans to let small businesses pool their resources and let people buy insurance across state lines. I think people will be more comfortable with biting off what we can chew instead of arrogance that we can fix the system all at once.” On Democrats’ claims that their $2.5 trillion health care bill is deficit neutral: • “I don't think one out of ten Americans believe that. In fact, there was a column about the Quinnipiac poll that said that's true. It raises premiums; it raises taxes; it cuts Medicare, and it puts big costs on to states. You saw the big 32 percent tuition increase out in California the other day. That's happening in all the states because states can't control Medicaid spending and now we're putting more on it. Chris, this feels more and more to me like the immigration debate of 2007. We had 64 votes to get on the floor then. People didn't like the bill. They weighed in on it. The bill collapsed of its own weight. What we need to do is to go back to step-by-step efforts to reduce costs.” • “If we keep on adding to the debt even in the midst of this recovery, at some point people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession.” On President Obama’s efforts to cut the deficit: • “I believe he wants to do it, but he's not doing it. Senator McConnell, in his first speech this year, said I’ll go to work with you on fixing Social Security. I don't think [the President] heard a word about that. Senator Stabenow just talked about Michigan and jobs. The best job stimulus we could have would be to fix the health care bill. I talked to a major employer yesterday who said the one thing that was certain about the bill in the Senate is it would take 15 percent of his profits. I said, what does that mean to you? He said, that means we won't be hiring any new people and we won't be building any new buildings any time soon. As far as small business goes, I mentioned this step-by-step process Republicans would like to do. Republicans have a proposal that we've tried to bring up repeatedly which the Democrats have blocked, which will allow small businesses to pool their resources and offer more insurance at lower costs and cut money from the federal government’s deficit. That is what the Congressional Budget Office has said. So, [the Democrats’] health care bill is adding costs and will cut jobs.” On Afghanistan: • “[The President should] show a sense of urgency and come on up to Congress and tell us exactly what he plans to do -- not in an exit strategy, but in a success strategy. Ask for bipartisan support and try to get the country to follow him in that mission all the way through to the end. President Bush wasn't able to get that bipartisan support. Iraq became Bush's war and President Obama wants to make sure, I would think, that [Afghanistan] doesn’t become Obama’s war. That would not be good for the country.”