Alexander Says Democrats Ignore Americans on Health Care, Jobs

“People are saying, ‘We don't want it.’ The Democrats are saying, ‘We don't care’ …. The real issues are jobs, terror, and debt.”

Posted on February 28, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, appeared today on ABC’s “This Week” to discuss the White House’s health care summit and the Democrats’ health care legislation being debated by Congress: 

On passing health care by reconciliation:  

• “It's for the purpose of taxing and spending and -- and reducing deficits. But the difference here is that there's never been anything of this size and magnitude and complexity run through the Senate in this way.  There are a lot of technical problems with it, which we could discuss.  

• “It would really be the end of the United States Senate as a protector of minority rights, as a place where you have to get consensus, instead of just a partisan majority.

• “It would be a political kamikaze mission for the Democratic Party if they jam this through after the American people have been saying, ‘we're trying to tell you in every way we know how, in elections, in surveys, in town hall meetings, we don't want this bill.’” 

On the White House health care summit: 

• “I think that was great opportunity for us to say why we thought the President's bill is not a good bill and what we think we ought to do: establish a goal of reducing costs and go step by step toward that goal. We offered a number of good ideas, some of them the president agreed with.  If he'll put his bill aside, we can go after this together.”  

On what Americans are saying about the Democrats’ health care legislation: 

• “[Americans] don't want their Medicare cut.  They don't want their taxes increased.  They don't want their premiums increased.  Millions of American will have their premiums increased.  The governors are up in arms about the new cost on states, so people have decided that Washington is taking over too much.

• “People are saying, ‘We don't want it,’ and the Democrats are saying, ‘We don't care.  We're going to pass it anyway.’  And so for the next three months, Washington will be consumed with the Democrats trying to jam this through in a very messy procedure an unpopular health care bill. Then for the rest of the year, we're going to be involved in a campaign to repeal it.  And every Democratic candidate in the country is going to be defined by this unpopular health care bill at a time when the real issues are jobs, terror and debt.” 

On President Obama and the Democrats’ bill: 

•                     “This is a car that can't be recalled and fixed. There are too many things wrong with it: it raises taxes a half trillion dollars; it cuts Medicare a half trillion dollars to spend on a new program at a time when Medicare is going broke in 2015; it raises insurance premiums; it shifts big costs to states that will drive up state tuitions; I have heard from governors on this, and it dumps 15 million low-income Americans into a program called Medicaid where 50 percent of doctors won't see new patients. You can't fix that.” 

On using a step-by-step approach to reform health care: 

•                     “I've watched the comprehensive immigration bill, the comprehensive cap-and-trade bill, the comprehensive health care bill. They fall of their own weight because we're biting off more than we can chew. I think we do better as a country when we go step-by-step toward a goal. The goal should be reducing health care costs. 

•                     “A 2,700-page bill is going to be unpopular because you're hiding something in it. Policy skeptics believe in the law of unintended consequences. It will have surprises like the Cornhusker Kickback – that was probably the death blow.”