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Louie G.
Republican TX 1

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  • Government Shutdown

    by Representative Louie Gohmert

    Posted on 2013-10-22

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    GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasize the point being made by my friend, Mr. Franks from Arizona, about the origination clause. I have been talking about this for 3\1/2\ years of when the Senate took a House bill that provided a tax credit for first-time home buyers who were in the military or veterans, took out every single word and took that short little bill and expanded that by thousands of pages--my copy was around 2,500 pages--it had nothing to do with military or veteran home buyers. It had nothing to do with that. They inserted health care. We have found out since it is costing more; and if you like your doctor, you're going to lose your doctor, and if you like your insurance policy, there is a good chance you may lose it. Fortunately, not everybody is losing their doctor, but the promises have been badly broken. It turns out those people, including the head of this administration, were just flat wrong when they said, If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance.

    For example, there is a story here from Kaiser Health News from Anna Gorman and Julie Appleby, dated October 21. I won't read all three pages, but this is what it points out: Health plans are sending hundreds of thousands of cancellation letters to people who buy their own coverage, frustrating some consumers who want to keep what they have and forcing others to buy more costly policies.

    The main reason insurers offer is that the policies fall short of what the Affordable Care Act requires starting January 1.

    On further it says: But the cancellation notices, which began arriving in August, have shocked many consumers in light of President Barack Obama's promise that people could keep their plans if they liked them.

    ``I don't feel like I need to change, but I have to,'' said Jeff Learned, a television editor in Los Angeles, who must find a new plan for his teenage daughter, who has a health condition that has required multiple surgeries.

    He liked his policy. She had a pre-existing condition. Now, because of ObamaCare, he has lost the insurance for him and his daughter, and he is going to have to find another plan, which will likely cost much more.

    The article goes on and says: An estimated 14 million people purchase their own coverage because they don't get it through their jobs. Calls to insurers in several States showed that many have sent notices.

    Florida Blue, for example, is terminating about 300,000 policies, about 80 percent of its individual policies in the State. Kaiser Permanente in California has sent notices to 160,000 people--about half of its individual business in the State. Insurer Highmark in Pittsburgh is dropping about 20 percent of its individual market customers, while Independence Blue Cross, the major insurer in Philadelphia, is dropping about 45 percent.

    The article further down talks about other notices and says: Blue Shield of California sent roughly 119,000 cancellation notices out in mid-September, about 60 percent of its individual business. About two-thirds of those policyholders will see rate increases in their new policies, said spokesman Steve Shivinsky.

    The President, Jay Carney, this administration, Senators who quoted this, Democrats, leaders here in the House, owe millions of people an apology. They owe an apology to those who they told that if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, and people that were told that if you like your policy, you can keep it.

    I know that our President has traveled the world apologizing for things he did not do that were done in prior generations, prior times in this country; but I think in order to keep credibility in this country, it is important that instead of apologizing for things you had nothing to do with, it is important to apologize when people trust you and you make promises and those promises turn out to be totally false.

    I understand that the President's spokesman may have indicated today that they may need to suspend the individual mandate. Mr. Speaker, let me tell you that after Harry Reid and the President refused to suspend the individual mandate--that was the third compromise we proposed before the shutdown. They said, Absolutely not, under no circumstances. Their actions made it very clear that they were saying, We are willing to shut this government down. We have already worked out the purchase and rental and the use of barricades to keep World War II veterans in wheelchairs from getting to see things they want to see. We have worked out barricades for the Martin Luther King, Jr., memorial, that so many come to Washington to see. We worked out barricades across the entire Lincoln Memorial plaza.

    When I asked one park ranger the second day of the shutdown, how many they normally have out there, she said four. Actually, I've been there all hours of the day and night. I rarely see more than one or two in the area; yet I was shown a photograph that had mounted police, most of them on horseback in the picture, with a few of them standing around. It looked like there were at least 16 mounted police there to try to enforce the barricades at the World War II Memorial, which would violate the existing law that says in the event of a shutdown, you are not supposed to spend more money than you were before. Yet this administration, in order to make the hurt be felt across the country by veterans, by people who had their one-time vacation planned for a national park, this administration and Harry Reid were willing to shut down the government, rather than just suspend the mandate that individuals have to buy this insurance. Now they have got to buy it in the next few months. They have got to buy it. By their actions, they were saying, We are willing to shut the government down for over 2 weeks to keep from suspending that mandate to individuals. Yes, the President already issued what should be an illegal order saying that he was not going to enforce the mandate for Big Business under ObamaCare.

    So this side of the aisle repeatedly said, Look, if you are going to suspend the mandate for Big Business--businesses with over 50 employees--then why not just agree to suspend for a year, the same amount of time you are giving to Big Business, do that for the individuals? Then, as the shutdown continued, we saw what a disaster, what a train wreck it was. The Democrats that called it a train wreck, a nightmare, they were exactly right. It was playing out in front of us, and still Harry Reid and this President said, We don't care. We are not suspending [[Page H6671]] the individual mandate. We are forcing individuals to do what we are not making businesses do. Even though it is in the law required for businesses to do it, that seemed like a pretty easy ask.

    That was where we were in the negotiations, right before the last bill we passed about an hour after midnight on October 1, which I saw as basically capitulation. All right, all right, Harry Reid, Mr. President, we are not demanding that you suspend the individual mandate as you have done for Big Business, but here are our conferees, negotiators. It is what the Constitution anticipates, and it is what the law and the rules require.

    Harry Reid, again, by his actions said, We would rather shut this down. We would rather have mounted police out there in the face of our veterans. And as we saw when veterans ultimately took barricades to the White House, we saw, for the first time in my memory, officers of the Federal Government in uniform who were supposed to protect Americans' rights, instead for the first time in my memory, being used, the first time in my lifetime that I can remember, to take away Americans' and specifically veterans' rights that they fought for for all Americans.

    It is almost unthinkable. It is like a bad dream, the Federal Government hiring officers to take away Americans' rights. How far is this administration willing to go to make Americans hurt, to get the money they want? How ironic that leaders in this administration, going to the top, would use the term ``extortion.'' Extortion is when you do some action threatening someone with action if you don't give them all the money that they demand. I always thought when Jay Carney said that Congress is putting a gun to their heads to be paid for doing their job, that that didn't make sense because this is exactly the other way around.

    Some of our Democratic friends are very good at taking action that is offensive to most Americans and then blaming their opponents for doing what actually they are doing when their opponents weren't even doing what was alleged. That is basically what we saw here, people saying Republicans in the House were using extortion. Hardly. The Constitution of the United States gives the Congress the purse strings, control over the money. What this administration said by their actions and made very clear is, We will harm World War II veterans, Korean veterans, Vietnam veterans; we will harm veterans by preventing them from getting to the cemetery in Normandy, being able to pull over and take a picture of Mount Rushmore, trying to take advantage of the Claude Moore farm that operates off of individual expenditures; they would put up barricades at a World War II Memorial that was built entirely with private funds that has a trust fund of millions of dollars that is used for operating expenses; they would go out of their way to spend more extra money just to make Americans' lives more difficult and unpleasant, all the while saying, We will never agree to suspend the individual mandate, the requirement that individuals buy a certain level of insurance or be fined the minimum of either $95 or 1 percent of their income tax, whichever is lower.

    One of these days some of the fact-checking people will actually admit that I have been right and they have been wrong. Even with subsidies, people that make 133 percent of the poverty level are projected to come out of pocket potentially thousands of dollars, one, two, three--one projection that I had read before I talked about this ran $3,000 even after the subsidies.

    {time} 2115 And so, you know, all the mainstream media that is doing everything they can to protect the President, some are coming around and realizing: Wait a minute; there were a lot of things that weren't true. And I appreciate NBC making some of these stories the stories they should be.

    But it is appalling what is happening to Americans, what is happening to the health insurance they once had. It is time for real reform. And as I have said from this podium, going back 3, 3\1/2\ years, a bill that starts out as a fraud is not likely to get better. And when you take a House bill, because of the origination clause, article I, section 7, all bills that raise revenue must originate in the House.

    Now, it could and had been considered that ObamaCare was not a revenue-raising bill. But when Chief Justice John Roberts did the unthinkable and rewrote legislation that clearly defined itself as a penalty and rewrote that as a tax--even though at page 15 he made clear that it was a penalty; it wasn't a tax. It was penalizing people for not doing an act. So under the anti-injunction statute, it was clearly a penalty, not a tax. But then to save it, he had to actually do the unthinkable and say further in the opinion, actually, it is a tax, not a penalty.

    Well, once he defined it as a tax, in order to rule it constitutional, then, clearly, that is a bill that raises revenue. Clearly, article I, section 7 kicks in, and a bill to raise revenue, which is what taxes do, must originate in the House.

    I have heard people say, who have not done the legal research, well, the Supreme Court has decided many times that you don't have to have precisely the same bill when the Senate strikes language in the House bill and puts other language in it and sends it back, then it still originated in the House. Mr. Speaker, I would submit to you that when you strike every single word of a bill, including the title about it being a tax credit for first-time home buyers in the Armed Forces or veterans, you even strike the title and substitute therein about a 2,500-page bill that is all about the government running health care, about getting health care records controlled by Washington, about creating navigators to get your personal information--which, actually, we have been told is just a dream for identity thieves because of how much information will be accessible, be stolen by hackers--you put all of that stuff in there, dictating about what has to be put in vending machines, notices that have to be put, requirements for restaurants--I think there is a requirement for restaurants, they may have to have a place specifically for nursing mothers--you put all of those in there, including issues--and I love the fact that women nurse babies. I think it is one the greatest gifts God gave, but that has nothing do with a tax credit for first-time home buyers in the military or veterans, so, clearly, that bill did not originate in the House. It originated in the Senate. When the only thing that is left of the bill that originated in the House is a number, like 3590, that is not a bill that originates in the House. It originated in the Senate.

    And since we now know after the Supreme Court opinion that Chief Justice Roberts rewrote the law, which the Constitution simply does not allow, but the Supreme Court did it anyway--there are checks and balances. Congress could check the Supreme Court when they act unconstitutionally like that themselves. But he rewrote it to call it a tax after he called it a penalty, so that means it had to originate in the Senate. It did not originate in the House.

    And what limited case law there is indicates it absolutely must be germane to the underlying bill, and that is not germane. There is no way that is germane to first-time home buyers. It is about the government controlling people's health care. It sets up a panel that will decide: Do you get a pacemaker or do you not get a pacemaker? You are too old for a pacemaker. You are going to die early because we are not going to let you have a pacemaker. Are you going to get the surgery you need? You know, like people in England, Canada, others, again, I have had a number of people from England and Canada go, you know: Where are we going to go now when we need immediate treatment when you screw up the greatest health care system in the world? It certainly needed reform. But what people need to understand is you can look at the entire history, recorded history of mankind, going back to the very beginning, when we knew what mankind was doing, and some medical historians say it was around 1900, 1910, 1912, maybe it was during World War I, 1916, '17, '18, maybe it was during the great influenza outbreak and protocols were established, but somewhere around that time, about 100 years ago, it has been said that for the first time in the entire human history you had a better chance of getting well than of getting worse after seeing a doctor. When you consider that just in 100 [[Page H6672]] years this country has been at the forefront of saving lives, enhancing lives, improving quality of life, making incredible breakthroughs in medicine and health care--reforms were needed, but not the government taking it over and making it run like the Post Office, not the government taking it over and making it run like the Department of Education or Energy or Interior, that slows everything down, because when somebody needs heart surgery, they don't need the government in the process of slowing things down.

    It is incredible what has been inflicted upon man by man, and the ObamaCare law is inflicting massive cost increases for most Americans, higher deductibles, running many doctors out of health care. It is time that this administration, if Jay Carney is willing to now say, after the President and Harry Reid shut down the government for over 2 weeks over a little temper tantrum that they did not want to suspend the individual mandate, that is what we were down to, and then after that, okay, just produce conferees--we have got ours; we will get an agreement hopefully by morning so most Americans will never even know the government was shut down--refused to even have conferees to work it out before morning because before that they weren't going to suspend the individual mandate. They would rather shut down the government indefinitely than allow individuals to have the same break that they gave to Big Business. I am a fan of Big Business as long as they treat people fairly and right. Most do.

    But now to say, well, we may suspend the individual mandate, it means all the suffering this administration inflicted upon our veterans, on people on vacation, people that needed Federal services and didn't get them, on those whose loved ones were killed in Afghanistan, and this administration, though we gave them the power to pay the death benefits, wouldn't even do that, played games with their death benefits while they were grieving. This administration was willing to do all that, knowing we are probably going to have to do what the Republicans were asking anyway, but we will try to get--we know the mainstream media will blame it 100 percent on the Republicans. We know that is going to happen. They will give us cover, and so we can refuse something as reasonable as just suspending the individual mandate for a year, something as reasonable as just appointing conferees and working it out before morning. We can refuse to do those things because the mainstream media, MSNBC, CNN, they will give us cover, they will deceive the American public about who is at fault.

    And I am wondering, if this administration goes about suspending the individual mandate that would have prevented there ever being a shutdown in the first place, which was the next to last thing we did before we just capitulated and said, all right, appoint conferees, if they are willing to do that now, I still have hope that even CNN will have to recognize that it was the President and Harry Reid that shut the government down, that inflicted pain and suffering upon the American people who needed Federal services for something that they were agreeable to do anyway.

    We will see. But then again, this is the same administration who weaponized the IRS to go after conservatives. Here is a story from today at Watchdog.org, by Kenric Ward, ``IRS pays illegal immigrants $4.2 billion while stalling Tea Parties.'' It says: On January 19, 2007, file photo, the U.S. Border Patrol detains a large group of suspected immigrants at the Arizona- Mexico border in Sasabe, Arizona.

    While harrying and stalling Tea Party groups seeking nonprofit status, the Internal Revenue Service mailed $4.2 billion in child credit checks to undocumented immigrants.

    Critics say midlevel IRS bureaucrats continue to abuse the Additional Child Tax Credit program by dispensing $1,000 checks to families in this country illegally.

    ``The law needs clarification that undocumented immigrants are not eligible,'' Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, told Watchdog.org in a statement.

    To make Congress' intent clear--that only legal U.S. residents are entitled to the Additional Child Tax Credits-- Grassley cosponsored a clarifying amendment with Senator Mike Enzi, Republican from Wyoming.

    ``Unfortunately, the majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat from Nevada, cut off debate, so we weren't given the chance to offer our amendment,'' said Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    So all the while--and I spoke to another Tea Party group this weekend, different races, all ages, even kids, very, very senior people, both genders, people from all walks of life were there, and out of hundreds of people at that event, there was only one who got more benefits from the government than he paid in.

    {time} 2130 That is the common thread I see with the vast majority of Tea Party people. They pay income tax. Those who identify with the Tea Party are a majority of those paying income tax, the 53 percent, 52 percent, whatever it is. They ought to be able to say something without being called all kinds of criminal names, without being slandered and libeled. They just want fairness, and they are not seeing it.

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to the shutdown and that this administration was willing to make the American people--World War II veterans and so many others--suffer, the survivors of the loved ones who died in Afghanistan, make them suffer, when all they had to do was suspend the individual mandate for a year--and they are talking about doing it anyway--the American people ought to be furious.

    Like I say, I still hold onto that hope that springs eternal in the human breast that even the mainstream media will figure out who was actually at fault for the shutdown, when Republicans submitted compromise after compromise after compromise that included things the administration may do anyway. If we are going to get this country turned around, America is going to have to wake up to who is causing the problems and who isn't.

    With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.


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