Health Careby Senator Mike Lee
Posted on 2013-03-05
LEE. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent for leave to engage
in a colloquy with Senator Barrasso for a period of time not to exceed
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Sequestration Mr. LEE. Mr. President, the President of the United States has spent the last few weeks campaigning around our great country at taxpayer expense, telling Americans about what he characterizes as the catastrophic impact of the sequester. He said, for example, that the sequester will visit hardship on a whole lot of people. He said it will jeopardize our military readiness, it will eviscerate job-creating investments in education and energy and medical research. He said the ability of emergency responders to help communities respond to and recover from disasters will be disregarded. Border Patrol agents will see their hours reduced. FBI agents will be furloughed. He said Federal prosecutors will have to close cases and simply let criminals go. Air traffic controllers and airport security will see cutbacks, which means more delays at airports across the country. He said thousands of teachers and educators will be laid off and that tens of thousands of parents will have to scramble to find childcare for their kids. And he also continued: Hundreds of thousands of Americans will lose access to primary care and preventive care such as flu vaccinations and cancer screenings.
Today we see the predictions of doom and gloom have not come to pass. We have seen that many of these statements have been severely exaggerated, if not disproven. People in my home State of Utah have found the effects of the sequester to be not quite what the President predicted. One of our local Utah news stations reported that ``there were no signs of sequester pain'' at the airports. When asked about sequestration, one Utahn responded: ``If they can't handle a 2 percent reduction in spending then I guess we need to get better and brighter,'' meaning we need to get better and brighter people running our government.
Other press reports indicate the administration's doomsday claims have misled the public. The Washington Post reported that the Education Secretary's claims about teacher layoffs turned out simply not to be true. And Politico recently published a story showing the President's claims about some capital staff getting pay cuts to be false.
I ask Senator Barrasso, after all these scare tactics over the last 2 weeks, does the President have a credibility problem with the American people when it comes to the sequester? Mr. BARRASSO. I believe my friend from Utah is absolutely correct. There is a creditability gap here. These modest cuts should prompt Washington to take a closer look at how we spend taxpayers' money. I saw today that the White House is now--they claim because of the sequester--canceling White House tours. It is astonishing when they say they will not cut the personnel there in terms of the security, but they will cancel the tours. I would invite people from all around the country who are planning a trip to Washington to come to the Senate, come to the House, and come to the Capitol. We will make sure they receive tours if they would like.