Nomination of Patricia M. Wald to Be a Member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Boardby Senator Rand Paul
Posted on 2013-12-11
PAUL. Madam President, as we enter into the Christmas season, I
think it is a good time to talk about stories to describe sort of
pastorally where the Senate is. So I have a story today I would like to
tell about how the Senate works--or doesn't work.
So it came to pass that the filibuster was dismembered, dishonored, and indefinitely detained.
With the end of the filibuster came the end of any semblance of comity and compromise on Capitol Hill. The party that never cared much for the rule of law broke the rules of the Senate to change the rules.
Senate rules for nearly 2 centuries allowed the filibuster. The filibuster was simply a requirement that 60 percent of Senators must approve nominations and legislation. This super majority requirement actually fostered more centrist solutions and compromises.
In order to change the rules, though, and kill the filibuster, it required a two-thirds majority to change the rules. However, the party which doesn't and hasn't concerned themselves with the rule of law simply broke the rules.
When the Chair said: That is against the rules, they said: We don't care if it's against the rules. The rules are whatever we say the rules are.
The best way to put this in perspective: You are watching a tennis match. The ball is clearly a foot out of bounds. The umpire says, ``Out of bounds.'' Instead of going by the rules, you have everyone vote. So the audience at Wimbledon votes that it was in bounds when it was really out of bounds.
That is what we have here: We have no more rules and we have no more comity. We have no more compromise. What we have is poison--poison that has been given to us by people who have no concern for the rules.
Historically, it has always required two thirds of the Senate to change the rules. But, for the first time, we break the rules to change the rules. So when the parliamentarian rules to Senate Democrats that: You're breaking the rules, they say: No, it really wasn't out of bounds. It was in bounds or we don't care that it was out of bounds. We don't care what the rules say. We want our way. We are impatient. We want our nominations, and we want them now. We don't care about the history of the Senate. We don't care about the history of the Congress. We want our way or we will pick up our toys and we [[Page S8734]] will go home. We want it now. We want it now. We want all of it. We don't want to talk with the other side. We don't want compromise. We don't want discussion. We don't want negotiation. We want our way or the highway.
The rules, it seems, aren't binding upon the Senate Democrats. To them, the rules are living, breathing, evolving, and apparently optional.
We shouldn't be surprised, though. We shouldn't be surprised that a party that believes in a living, breathing, ever-evolving, whatever- you-want-it-to-be Constitution, might not think the rules of the Senate are important.
We shouldn't be surprised that the party that believes that morality is unfixed, unhinged, unchanged, unchained to any constants, that all ethics are a situation that this party might break the rules--we shouldn't be surprised.
Is anyone really surprised that such a party with no apparent concern for the burden of debt they are placing on every American family would break the rules to get their way? We are told they are upset because the Senate just takes too long. They want their way, and they want it now. They want their people confirmed. They don't want to talk to the other side. They won the election. They want their way.
So now they have it. They have bullied and brayed, and they have won the day. The iron-fisted rule of the rule-breakers has now begun.
There will be no return. Are they going to return to the rules halfway, partway? No. I predict they will only go further. If they don't get their way, if they don't get it quickly enough, I predict they will break the rules further.
What passed for gridlock before this will pale in comparison to the poison that seeps from the hands of those who are careless and reckless with the law.
Where the filibuster once created conversation, the iron-fisted rule of the rule-breakers will stifle it. For you see, contrary to popular belief, the filibuster actually fostered compromise, dialogue, and often results. In exchange for the release of nominations, in exchange for the cooperation of the minority party with the majority party, often there were votes on legislation that not everybody wanted. There were discussions, there were amendments, there was dialogue, because we were forced to talk to each other because one side couldn't always get what they wanted. They couldn't slam their fists down in angry tantrum and say: My way or the highway. We want what we want. We don't care what 50 percent of America wants or what 47 percent of America wants. We want our way, and we want it now.
The tantrum used to not work. But now we will live in an era where the iron-fisted rule-breakers will throw their tantrum and they will get whatever they want.
Contrary to popular belief, the filibuster led to dialogue. Every week, the majority party talked to the minority party. There was a meeting each week in which the agenda for the week was set through dialogue and discussion and compromise, behind the scenes, not always out in public. But there was discussion and compromise every week, because the majority party could not rule with an iron fist.
But now, in the era of the iron fist, in the era of the iron-fisted rule-breakers, why will there be any discussion? Why not just roll over the opposition? Why allow debate? Why have debate? Why have discussion? Why have dialogue? Why have votes? It has been getting less and less-- as the grip gets tighter and tighter, there is less debate. There is less voting. There are less amendments. I don't think the American public likes that. I think the American public disavows this place and is unhappy with Congress in general because of a lack of dialogue. But that is where we are headed. We are headed towards less dialogue, not more.
In the past, Republicans and Democrats would come together. They would agree to votes. They would schedule them for the week. They would agree to dialogue; they would agree to nominations; and they would agree to quick and easy votes for noncontroversial nominees.
But if there is to be no rules, what incentive is there for cooperation? If it is to be my way or the highway--if the majority party is simply to roll over, if they are to beat their iron fists upon the table and say: My way or the highway; we don't need you; we don't care that half the country disagrees with our policy, it is our way or the highway; that is the way it is going to be, then I think there will be less dialogue and less compromise.
Historically, the filibuster encouraged a reluctant President to cooperate with oversight from the Congress. This isn't a Republican or Democrat thing. This is about the separation of powers. This is about the checks and balances to power. This is about a President who might say--or not say--whether or not he would kill Americans with a drone.
This is about using the filibuster to get information from a reluctant President. This is about a filibuster that allowed Congress to get information and to force a President to say: I will not kill Americans with drones.
This is about a reluctant President being asked: Will you detain Americans? Can you put an American in jail without a trial? Can you send an American to Guantanamo Bay? How do we get those answers from a President who is reluctant to answer? Through the filibuster.
The filibuster is an empowerment of Congress. It really isn't Republican versus Democrat. The filibuster is about Congress having power to counterbalance a Presidency. Information about malfeasance or transparency can be pried from a President in exchange for nominations.
Quite typically, holds on nominations were used to get information, were used to force people to testify. Recently, I had questions for the nominee for Homeland Security. I asked him: Does the Fourth Amendment apply to third-party records? This is a big constitutional question, and there are answers. I might not have agreed with his answer. He said he had no legal opinion on the Fourth Amendment.
I asked him: Can one warrant from a secret court apply to all telephone records? Can every American who has their records with a phone company have their records looked at through one warrant? Is that consistent with the Fourth Amendment? And this nominee said: I really don't have an opinion on the Fourth Amendment. I really haven't thought that much about the Constitution. But he is going to lead one of the largest agencies in our government that may well have to do with spying on Americans, and yet has no opinion on the Fourth Amendment.
So what would the filibuster do? Historically, the filibuster would stop his nomination. What would a hold do? Would it be petulant? Maybe at times. But for the most part, holds were placed on nominees who wouldn't answer questions. So if you wanted answers from nominees and you didn't want them to get up there and say I don't recall, 49 times, I can't remember, I don't have an opinion today, sir, on the Constitution; then you would hold their nomination. You would hold their feet to the fire.
The filibuster, holds, about slowing things down--this is about the separation of powers. This is about the checks and balances. Currently we have a President who apparently thinks he is more than a President. He thinks he has a few monarchial powers. He believes more he is a monarch than he is a President because he thinks he can amend legislation. More than 20 times ObamaCare has been amended after the fact. They do not come back to Congress. So what would the filibuster do? What would a hold do? It would say to that President: You will obey the Constitution. We have no way to get him in court on these matters. It is very difficult to prove or disprove the constitutionality by a challenge. The beauty of our Founding Fathers is they separated the powers. One of the powers of Congress is the filibuster. It is placing holds. By doing that we check a rebellious or an adventurous President who thinks he can take this power upon himself.
Montesquieu, who is one of the people we look to about the separation of powers, once wrote: When you allow the legislative power to gravitate to the President, when you allow the President to take this power and he can legislate or do whatever he wants, you are allowing a tyranny. That is why Montesquieu wrote you have to separate these powers so no one body of people, no one grouping within government would assume or absorb too much power. That is what is happening here, [[Page S8735]] by giving up our power for petty partisan reasons.
Let's be very frank with each other. The Senate Democrats have, for petty partisan reasons, taken away the power of Congress, taken away one of the checks and balances on a rogue Presidency. These checks and balances are not something we should stoop to the level of petty partisanship over. By allowing us to do so, what has happened is we have allowed ourselves to give up one of the great checks and balances that was one of the beauties of our Constitution.
The loss of the filibuster truly weakens Congress and it makes the executive, regardless of party, more powerful and less likely to be transparent and less likely to compromise. In short, when you give power to the party in the minority, when you have that power in the party that is in the minority, it works to coax compromise out of people.
In the era of filibusters and holds, someone such as myself who is new to the Senate could place a hold on the Federal Reserve Chairman and release it in exchange for a vote auditing the Fed. Auditing the Fed passed through years ago in the House. It is a transparency bill. We should know what decision happened. Congress created the Fed. People are getting personally wealthy off the policies of the Fed. There is a revolving door between the Fed and the Treasury and the people who sell the Treasury bonds. There are Treasury Secretaries who leave employment in government and make $160 million a year buying and selling the securities that are bought from a bank that we are not overseeing properly.
There are all kinds of reasons why we should audit the Fed. Every Republican in the House voted for it, 100 Democrats voted for it. You rarely have a bill that 350 out of 435 Representatives voted to audit the Fed. It has been over here for 3 years. It has been held hostage by the Senate majority. The only way the minority party ever gets any votes on anything is by using their leverage, by using the leverage of the filibuster, by using the leverage of a hold--I think often to get something good. There are a lot of things that need to be discussed that are never discussed in this body.
Whether your phone calls, the records of your phone calls, the records of your e-mail should be looked at by your government without a warrant, without an individualized warrant, is something that should have a debate here. We are, in the next week, supposed to go back on the Defense authorization bill. The Defense authorization bill, in 2011, allowed for the first time in our history an American citizen to be held indefinitely. It allowed for the first time an American citizen to be sent from America to Guantanamo Bay and held in a foreign prison in a foreign land, forever, without charge, without trial, without lawyer, without accusation.
When I had the debate on the floor with another Senator over this in 2011, I said, incredulously, you mean an American citizen could be sent to Guantanamo Bay without a jury trial, without a trial by a jury of his peers? He said, yes, if they are dangerous.
Who gets to decide who is dangerous and who is not? Are these questions we would want debated on the floor? One year ago we voted to get rid of indefinite detention; 67 Senators voted to get rid of indefinite detention. Then, secretly in conference committee, it was stripped out by a minority of one or two Senators. So this year we have been prepared for 6 months to have a vote on whether an American can be detained in prison without a trial. We will get no vote because of the iron-fisted rule of the rule breakers. The rule breakers have decided no debate, no dialog, no compromise, no discussion of questions until we tell you it is time--and it never seems to be time.
You have to think about this because there have been times in our history when we have detained Americans unjustly. You have to think about how important a jury trial is for everyone and you do not have to go far back in our history to see times when we made mistakes. Remember Richard Jewel, falsely accused, unfairly accused of being the Olympic bomber in Atlanta about a decade ago. If he had been a Black man in 1920 in the South, he might not have survived a day. Fortunately, he lived in an era when we believed in trial by jury, when we believed that no one should be detained without a trial by jury, no one should be kept in prison without a trial. For goodness' sake, can there be anything more American than that? Yet the law of the land says that is no longer true.
Anybody in our society who ever thinks they have been treated unfairly, whether one is an African American or Japanese American who can remember what happened to the Japanese Americans in World War II, should be horrified that our current law says an individual, an American citizen, can be detained.
The President says: I am a good man and I will never use it. He signs into law the authority for all Presidents for all time to indefinitely detain American citizens without a trial. Yet he says: I am not going to do it. That is not a lot of comfort to those of us who believe in the law. I believe the appropriateness or the ability for us to get to dialog and discussion is important; that the American people want it and that the filibuster actually aided that. I think it aided it. It forced us to have discussion. Without the filibuster, I do not think there will be discussion. I do not think compromise will occur. It was infrequent before. I don't think it is going to occur without the threat of filibuster. The Senate will now be run with an iron fist, a fist clenched so tightly, a power wound so closely that dissent will no longer be heard. Debate will be stifled and amendments to legislation will become nonexistent. They are already rare.
Washington described the Senate as the saucer that cools the tea that boils over from the cup of the House of Representatives. The Senate was that saucer that cooled the tea, deliberating, gave review and time for calmer minds to prevail. The Senate was one of those items that our Founders established to separate our Republic from the whims of an unrestrained majority, from the headlong dash of an unrestrained mobocracy. I think the public will be burned more often as the Senate becomes less saucer and more boiling caldron. The loss of the filibuster will lead to more enmity and less compromise. The death of the filibuster is the death of negotiation. Why negotiate if you do not have to? Through brute force and a disregard for the rule of law, Senate Democrats have found temporary victory--but at what cost? We will now become the other House of Representatives. Will debate and amendment then become a thing of the past? Will an iron fist smash the saucer that once cooled the tea? Make no mistake about it, the death of the filibuster is the death of dialog. All power that is taken from the minority party is a leverage that is taken from possible compromise. One day I believe those who have seen fit to break the rules to change the rules will regret their actions. The question is, When cooler heads prevail, will there be anybody left with the spirit of compromise? All one has to do, to see what happens when there is no debate, when there is no dialog, when there is no compromise--all one has to do is look at the health care fiasco. It was passed without any discussion with Republicans--no input, zero input from Republicans. Why? Because at the time, even though we still had the filibuster, Senate Democrats were 60 and Republicans were 40. They did not have to talk to us.
When the majority party does not have to talk to the minority party, they will not. So with ObamaCare, with the unaffordable health care plan he has given us, there was no discussion, no debate--60 Democrats, 40 Republicans. We got a bill that is completely and entirely their baby--no compromise.
The same thing in the House. It passed by brute force by a majority of Democrats and no Republicans.
What we have now is something that is completely unworkable and does not represent the American people. I will be the first to admit we are divided. Not everybody is Republican, not everybody is a Democrat. But the interesting thing is it is about 50-50. It is not 80-20. It is not that everybody or the vast majority in the country want it one way or the other, it is almost 50-50. But instead of having 50-50 solutions come out of here, what is coming out of here is my way or the highway.
You look back, about 1 month ago when the government was shut down, [[Page S8736]] we were trying to open the government. Every day we tried to open the government. We said what about just delaying ObamaCare a little bit? What about delaying just the individual mandate? No way. We will not negotiate with a gun to our head, the President said. The President bellowed: I will not negotiate. You can't make me negotiate. I will not compromise.
Immediately after the government opened back up he did exactly the same thing we were asking for, he delayed the individual mandate. Of course he did it unconstitutionally and illegally because he did it without the approval of Congress. That is the way it has been from the beginning. This is something that we as Americans should be extremely worried about. This is the stuff of kings, this is the stuff of monarchs, and this is the stuff of tyrants because he thinks he can do the legislation by himself.
But if there is no recourse to come back to Congress, what happens? ObamaCare is a story of favoritism, it is a story of dispensing favors to your contributors, your friends. Should not we have a government where your campaign contribution buys you a different sort of scrutiny? It is no longer equal protection under the law, it is protection based on contribution history.
We have given waiver after waiver to special interest groups. You can see them with a big smile plastered on their face when they come out of the White House. There are special interest groups that have been to the White House hundreds of times. Meanwhile, the Secretary in charge of putting up ObamaCare and getting it started was there once. But hundreds of times special interests came. They paid first. They gave their campaign contributions. They paid, they got access to the White House, and they got a waiver.
Why would McDonald's get a waiver and not Burger King? Why would one business get a waiver and not another? Why would a union get a waiver and not another business that is not union? Is that equal protection under the law? Is that the way we are going to live? That is the way you will live if you allow all the power to gravitate to one person who has no checks and balances.
That is why we are supposed to have a separation of powers. That is why we are supposed to live under a rule of law. Legislation is messy and it takes a while. They no longer have the 60 votes to have his way or the highway. They cannot get everything they want so they do it by executive fiat. But realize that an executive can dictate for good and for harm or does one person always know what is best for the country? So we have been dictated to, all of these changes with ObamaCare, but the bottom line is more people are now losing their health insurance than are gaining it. Those who are gaining it, those who have been forced into ObamaCare, will recognize a few things. They are losing their freedom of choice and they are being forced to pay more.
There are two things that are irrefutable about ObamaCare: You have lost your freedom of choice and you are being dictated four plans. Where there was once hundreds of plans you could purchase for insurance, there are four plans left in America you can choose from, and they are more expensive. Why? Because you are told your kids have to have pediatric dental coverage. What if you don't have any kids? You are being told you have to have infertility coverage. What if you are not married? You are told you have to have pregnancy coverage. What if you are not married? The thing is that what has been outlawed is cheaper insurance policies.
Let's think back to the original problem. Eighty-five percent of Americans had health insurance, right? Fifteen percent of Americans didn't. Of the 15 percent who didn't have health insurance, one-third of them were eligible for Medicaid, and we could have helped them by fixing some eligibility with Medicaid or actually trying to help people sign up. One-third of the 15 percent who were uninsured, some reports said, were not here in the country legally, and then one-third of the 15 percent made between $50,000 and $75,000, but they did not buy insurance because they were young and healthy and decided to roll the dice and they perceived health insurance as being too expensive.
The main impediment to the body of people we could have gotten insured was expense. What have we done to help them? We made health insurance more expensive for them. If you are young and healthy, you should want a high deductible with few mandates. That is very cheap. What does ObamaCare give you? It gives you a high deductible and gives you a million and one things you don't need or don't want and it is very expensive. Really what we have done is taken away freedom of choice and given you something you don't want and made it more expensive.
This is the danger of having one-sided, one-party rule. There is no debate and no discussion. And that is what happened with ObamaCare--a lopsided result, a misbegotten legislation that doesn't work, can't work, and is leading to disaster.
Some have said: How can we fix it? Can we make ObamaCare less bad? I am not positive we can. Some are saying--and the President came back unilaterally and said: OK, I will give you another year. Look at it from the perspective of the insurance company. They can offer the cheaper policies for 1 more year. What incentive do they have? You are being told that within a year you have to buy more expensive insurance. Does the insurance company have any incentive to sell insurance that is less expensive again? If you are mandated to buy something more expensive, why would they do something less expensive? Now everybody in the country will be forced to buy something more expensive.
A lot of young people will say: Well, it is more expensive, and the penalty is not that bad for my income. Maybe I would be better off without insurance. Besides, now I can buy it anytime I get sick.
Other than the penalty--there is no incentive to buy health insurance when you are healthy other than the penalty.
Many people may say: I will just wait until I have chest pain, when I am rolling into the emergency room, or until I get in an auto accident, and then I will buy my insurance.
This is about choice versus coercion. We have one party that has decided they know what is best for you. They feel you are not smart enough to take care of yourself. They feel they should be--in a benevolent way--your parents. So you have a party that has decided they will take care of you from cradle to grave, but don't worry, it is free. No big deal. It is free. We are going to give you free health care.
Mark my words. There is nothing free about this. You will pay for this. If you had insurance before, you will pay for this with more expensive insurance premiums. If you didn't have insurance before, you will pay for this with more expensive insurance than you could have bought before.
The question is, How do you make it work? It only works now--if it is going to work at all--through coercion. You are forced to buy something. To me, that is antithetical to what the American Republic was founded upon. We were founded upon freedom of choice. You have freedom of choice every day in the things you purchase. Why is the one thing you are not allowed to have is the freedom of choosing your health insurance? Realize what this stems from. This stems from allowing government to get so completely in one hand that there are no checks and balances. There are checks and balances between the branches of government, and there are checks and balances between the parties. If you let one party get too strong of a hold in Congress, you will get something that is not the product of compromise and not the product of discussion.
Also, if you weaken the body of the Senate--which was intended to slow down legislation--by taking away the ability to filibuster or to place holds on nominees, once you do that, you are going to get away from compromise.
I think it is important that people know, when they look at this and say: Well, that is just obstruction; Republicans with their filibusters and holds are just obstructing the process, if the process is to run headlong away from the Constitution or to run head over heels and trample the Bill of Rights, you would want things to cool off. You would want that saucer the Senate was that allowed the tea to boil over and cool off.
So the question we really have is, Do we want checks and balances? That is a [[Page S8737]] big question. We have gotten to the point in our history where so much power has gravitated to the President--not just this President; Republican Presidents also. This is not a 4- or 8-year evolution; this is a 100-year evolution toward a stronger Presidency. We have now allowed Presidents to go to war without congressional authority. We have allowed them to trample over civil liberties without congressional authority.
We now allow regulatory regimes to write so many rules that your elected officials have little to say over what laws you live under. For example, we complained that ObamaCare was 2,000 pages. The Democratic leader in the House of Representatives said: Don't worry; you can read about it after we pass it. That was a mistake, and that is why so many people still don't understand this piece of legislation.
To top it off, this was a 2,000-page bill, but then 20,000 pages of rules were written. Unelected bureaucrats are writing most of the rules. For example, when ObamaCare passed, believe it or not, I think the original legislation would have let you keep your doctor, period. There was a regulation written 3 months after the bill was passed that changed it and said: You can keep your doctor, but you have to pay more, and it has to obey this rule.
Let's just say you can maybe keep your doctor if President Obama likes your doctor. This rule was not written by Congress. It wasn't part of the legislation. This is a rule that was written afterward.
About 3 months later, as they are writing 20,000 pages of rules, a rule comes up that says: If your insurance ever changes, it is not grandfathered in and you will lose your insurance. It will be canceled. You will be forced to be canceled.
The reason millions of people are having their insurance canceled is because the President authorized this through his bureaucracy without the permission of the Senate.
However, it gets more interesting. Occasionally, when a regulation is passed, we can try to stop it. So 3 months after ObamaCare was passed, they passed this regulation that says: You will be canceled. Millions of people were being canceled because President Obama and his team wrote this regulation.
One Republican Senator, Mr. Enzi from Wyoming, stood up and said: No, we will vote on this. We will vote on whether your policy can be canceled. So what happened? It came back. And guess what. The regulation that says your policy can be canceled if it ever changed-- the regulation that is allowing millions of people to be canceled-- every Democrat in the body voted for it, including a few of them who are running headlong away from the President. They can't get away from the President fast enough. They are running headlong away from the President and saying: Oh, I didn't know that rule was going to be there. I really thought you could keep your doctor.
Bunk. They all knew it. They all voted directly on it. Not only did they vote for ObamaCare, 3 months later they voted for the rule that is allowing millions of people to have their insurance canceled.
So these Senators who are saying: Mr. President, we might need to fix this, and I have a solution, all voted for the rule. We had a direct vote in the Senate on the rule that says: If you like your doctor, you can't keep your doctor. The whole idea when the President said: If you like your doctor, you can keep him, period--which we have now found to be false--we had a chance to fix it. We had a vote in this body. Every Senate Democrat voted to allow your insurance to be canceled. So if you are one of the millions of Americans who have had your insurance canceled, you can thank the Senate Democrats. Every Senate Republican voted to say you should not have your insurance canceled. Every Senate Democrat voted to allow your insurance to be canceled if it ever changes.
While some people have been wondering how many people are going to lose their insurance because of ObamaCare, the answer is everyone because insurance changes gradually over time. So within a few years everybody's insurance policy will change and you will be canceled. Everyone in America will lose their insurance. They will be canceled eventually, and they will have to buy ObamaCare. So people went from having hundreds of choices for insurance to having four choices in America.
Really what this debate is about is whether you believe in freedom of choice, whether you think you are smart enough to rule over your own destiny or whether you want a paternalistic government that makes these decisions for you. Are we so insecure as a people that we need the nanny state? Do we need the nanny state to take care of us? Do we not want choice? Why don't we extend it to all things? Health care is important, but so is food. Why don't we have the government decide what type of food we eat? Why don't we have the government decide how much we can charge? God forbid we charge too much for food. Shouldn't food be cheap and economical and affordable? Maybe the government should own the farms. If the government can distribute health care and health care is so important, so is food and water. How can we let anybody in the private marketplace determine water? How can we let private people control water? Shouldn't we let the government be in charge of everything? The bottom line is this: We shouldn't let the government be in charge of anything that can't be handled by the private marketplace, which means very little should be handled by the government. The reason you want minimal government is that government is not very good at stuff. I tell people that it is not that government is inherently stupid-- although that is a debatable point--it is that the government doesn't get the same signals we get.
In the private marketplace, you get signals. You have to make a profit or you have to meet a payroll. So there are different signals that come. As far as health care and the government running it, there is no signal. They get no feedback. Right now they have a Web site that would have sent any private business into bankruptcy. This would have been a failed initiation, and the company would have gone bankrupt. No company could roll out something as bad as this, but no private company would. The private company is influenced by the marketplace, and they have to make good decisions. The government doesn't make good decisions because it is not required to. That is why when you have a choice on whether something should be done by government or the private marketplace, you want the private marketplace.
Milton Friedman often talked about this. This is a truism of all government: Nobody spends somebody else's money as wisely as they spend their own. The private marketplace will inevitably make better decisions because it is a cruel master. In the marketplace, you have to please consumers all the time, every day. They vote. You have heard the term ``democratic capitalism.'' There is nothing more democratic than consumer and capitalism voting every day, and the people who are rewarded are those who give a product that people want to buy, and they do it in an efficient manner, so people are forced to be efficient. They are forced to have good consumer service.
The consumer is king only in the private marketplace. The consumer is treated as a stepchild if it is government. You are treated with reckless abandon by government. As a physician, I dealt with the government for decades and decades. You know what. It takes at least an hour to get someone on the phone. When you get them on the phone, they tell you they can only answer two questions. If they are not in a good mood, you have to call again. You have to get on the phone again and wait an hour to talk to another bureaucrat who may be surly and may have had a bad day and will probably get a bonus anyway.
If you want government to take over your health care, think of the case of Jonathan Beal. He worked for the EPA for 11 years. He told his boss that he was a spy and that he worked for the CIA. He took 6 months off at a time for years and years. He always got bonuses for good employment, good behavior, and good productivity for 11 years. This is what goes in government. Would that happen for a week or 2 weeks in a private industry? No way would that happen. The government is so big and vast, they have no idea who all is even working in government. We are going to turn that over, our health care system. The bottom line is it will [[Page S8738]] not be efficient, it will not try to save money; it will try to spend money, and it will not lead to us having lower premiums, it will lead to having higher premiums.
Thomas Payne said that government is a necessary evil, and he was right. That sounds kind of harsh, but the thing is we need to have government, but because government is inefficient, we should keep what government does to a minimum. There are certain things we probably can't have private industry do, including a national defense, an Army, a Navy, an Air Force. Government needs to be in place for that. We have decided with most of our infrastructure to have government involved. We have some private entities involved as well. But do we want government involved in every one of our affairs? Do we think government is going to be distributing goods very well? Think of it this way: Tomorrow we nationalize grocery shopping. We nationalize and everybody gets insurance and it will be subsidized. When people go to Walmart, they will just pay a $20 copay. Do my colleagues think they will buy less or more there? People will empty the shelves.
The other day--my colleagues may have heard that food stamp cards stopped working and they didn't have any limits; people just kept loading up thousands and thousands of dollars' worth of stuff. They trashed the whole place, carts were everywhere, and then someone turned the cards back on and there were limits and people had to leave the store. When there are no limits, people will spend without limit. The same goes with health care. So when government gives us something for free, the tendency is to use it. So what we find, for example, with Medicaid--a big part of ObamaCare is the expansion of Medicaid. I wish to help people who can't help themselves. There are a lot of people who are missing both legs and on dialysis and they have $10,000-a-month insurance. I think we can find a way to help these people. But we have now added able-bodied people to this, generation after generation of able-bodied people, so instead of a temporary hand up, a helping hand, we have turned it into something permanent.
But it is also the most rapidly rising cost in State governments, so State governments, I believe, will ultimately succumb to this burden. In our State it will be a 50-percent increase in Medicaid. In fact, for most of the people signing up around the country, three-fourths of them in my State are signing up for prehealth care. It is not truly free. We are going to pay for it. Anybody who is working will pay for it. But the thing is that what they are signing up for is free.
I think if we expand our safety net beyond sort of those who are not able-bodied or we expand it to make it permanent for people, what it becomes is a drag on the economy and a drag on everything and it disallows or prevents us from growing as an economy.
We have been having this debate for a while. The President has decided that people who are working just have too much money and he has to take from those who are working to give to those who aren't working. That is not how we get more jobs; that is how we make the pie smaller. If we keep dividing up the pie and shifting the pie from those working to those nonworking, it doesn't help anybody. It divides the pie smaller. There have been times in our country where we have greatly grown the pie, but we have to get beyond these petty things.
The President preaches fear and envy, class warfare. He preaches that if your neighbor has three cars, send me and I will take one of their cars. I will get some of your neighbor's stuff and I will give it to you. The problem is it doesn't make us rich as a nation.
There has been a discussion for thousands of years about whether it is good or bad to spend time coveting your neighbor's wealth. It isn't healthy personally or spiritually for our country. If I labor my whole day saying my neighbor has a Mercedes and I don't--I should instead be saying maybe my son or daughter will be working at the Mercedes dealer selling to somebody who is buying a Mercedes. Instead of feeling jealous and envious of others, I should be saying we are all interconnected and we want more people to rise and be part of the top 1 percent. Instead of taking a meat-ax to those who are successful in our society and trying to drive them down, we should try--in the 1920s, Coolidge took the top rate from 70 percent down to 23 percent. We had a boom. Employment thrived. He balanced the budget. We did it again under Kennedy in the 1960s. Unemployment was once again cut in half. By the time we get to Reagan, the rates had risen to 70 percent again, and Reagan said our economy will boom if we lower rates on everybody, and he did. He lowered rates from 70 percent at the top rate--the top 1 percent. He lowered their rates. He didn't raise their rates. He didn't say covet thy neighbor. He didn't say I will get you one of your neighbor's cars. He said lower the rates and the economy will boom, and it did. We lowered the rates from 70 on the wealthy to 50 to 28 and we had a decade-long boom with millions of jobs created.
We have to have this debate as a country. We can't say the debate is over. If we say the debate is over and that what we need to do is just divide it up, pass the money around, we are going to be talking about a shrinking pie that we pass around.
We also have a pie right now that has millions of people unemployed. So how are we going to grow this economy? Are we going to grow our economy by saying let's tax people more? It is exactly the opposite.
I was in Detroit last week talking about how we could help Detroit. We can't send money from Houston to Detroit and bail them out. It doesn't work. One, because it is just like when the President did his government stimulus. When the President chose to pick winners and losers, he wound up with a bunch of losers because no central planner knows who is going to win and who is going to lose. Nine out of ten businesses fail. That is why we don't want government choosing the winners and losers.
When they do that, they choose people such as Solyndra. One, it was a little bit unfair on the face of it. The guy who ran the company was the 20th richest man in the country. What business does the middle class--that the President says he is so proud of--what business does the middle class have giving money to the 20th richest man in the country? It turned out people didn't want his solar panels.
But that is the government picking winners and losers, many times based on campaign history and based on environmental politics. It is picking winners and losers and it doesn't work. Why? Because the marketplace, when it winnows out and finds who will be successful in business, who is a harsh task master, but it asks all of you--it asks 300 million Americans every day to vote on which businesses will succeed. So you get to vote every day. So there is a big difference between reducing taxes for those who are in business and trying to stimulate the economy and taxing people in Houston, bringing it up here, and then passing it out to people I think might be good at business in Detroit. No one knows that. No one has that knowledge. Only the marketplace can decide who is a good risk and who is a bad risk.
Banks are part of that, but the consumer votes every day on which businesses are good and should receive more money.
So my plan is basically economic freedom zones. Let's lower the taxes in impoverished areas. Let's don't tax Houston and bring a bunch of money up to Detroit and say: Here, you are going to succeed. The same thing will happen to that money that happened to the last 50 years' worth of money; that is, it was stolen, some of it was misappropriated, some of it was given to the wrong people.
But if we are to lower the taxes for the people in Detroit, I think we could truly help them. My plan would lower the personal income tax to 5 percent for everybody in Detroit. It would lower the corporate tax to 5 percent. We might find people in the suburbs who want to move back into Detroit if their income tax is 5 percent. That is a good thing. People would pay those taxes. Instead of being envious of these people, instead of saying they might buy another car, I might be saying they might buy that car from somebody selling it in Detroit.
The thing is that economic freedom zones and reducing taxes I think would help spur the economy.
[[Page S8739]] There are 20 counties in eastern Kentucky that have unemployment 1.5 times the national rate. A large degree of our unemployment is due to the President and his war on coal. He always talks about a balanced solution, but he doesn't balance his hatred for the coal industry with jobs. He doesn't balance his so-called like for the environment with jobs. When we look at regulations, we should preserve the environment, and we have many Federal regulations that I do agree with on the environment. We shouldn't be able to dump chemicals in a stream. I agree completely with that. The Clean Water Act says you cannot discharge pollutants into navigable waters of the United States. I agree completely. But do we know what they have done over the last 30 years? They have taken that commonsense regulation, which we can probably all agree to, and they now say dirt is a pollutant and your backyard is a navigable stream.
So we have actually put people in prison for putting clean dirt on dry land. As a consequence, I think we spend less time protecting the Ohio River and more time meddling with some property owner. We have gone crazy with regulations because they are now written by unelected bureaucrats. They are not written by people we can unelect; they are written by bureaucrats.
We have to get back to some common sense with these issues. We have to look at how injurious this is. Even things that are well-intended, we think, well, gosh we have to protect the bald eagle and we have to have endangered species protected. I agree. I have two bald eagles in my backyard. They have come for the second year and they are fascinating. They live on the pond behind my house and it is fascinating to see them. But what we have done in the name of protection for the environment and protection for certain species is we have gone nuts with it.
In my State, we are protecting the Indiana bat. I had a guy come up to me and he said: The Indiana bat? They came up to my property and they took a survey and they found one bat. It was already tagged as a brown bat. The scientists had a big fight. Two of them said it was an Indiana bat and the other two said a brown bat, but did they tell me I had to do anything to help the bat? No. They just charged me money to cut down trees on my own land. So it isn't about the bat; it is about money. They charge $2,400 per acre to chop down your own trees.
Another city in my State, Grand Rivers, when it rained, the sewage was flowing into the river overflowing and they were overcapacity and wanted to have a new sewage plant. They couldn't do it because the EPA was saying we need to know how many pocketbook muscles there are. Are we going to stop the building on the planet? No. What it does is cause hundreds of thousands of dollars to be spent looking at this.
The bottom line is, remember, separation of powers is important, and the loss of the filibuster I think is leading toward a one-sided party rule and leaning toward less power here and more power in the executive branch, I think all to the detriment of the voter.
At this point, I see my colleague from Oklahoma has arrived, and I yield the floor.