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John T.
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  • Obamacare

    by Senator John Thune

    Posted on 2014-12-09

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    THUNE. Madam President, a Bloomberg headline Monday noted: ``Half of the Senators Who Voted for ObamaCare Will be Gone in 2015.'' ObamaCare, it seems, has not been kind to the party that jammed it through Congress.

    In fact, the third ranking Democrat in the Senate admitted as much 2 weeks ago when he told an audience that Democrats made a mistake after the 2008 election by putting all their focus on passing a health care law. He further said: Unfortunately, Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them. We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem--health care reform.

    Now, as a result, my colleague from New York said: ``The average middle-class person thought, `the Democrats aren't paying enough attention to me.' '' Well, Democrats weren't paying enough attention to middle-class families. The American people didn't support the health care law, and they made that clear. But Democrats just ignored their objections and forced it through anyway.

    They were far from frank about what was in the bill. In fact, ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber essentially admitted that Democrats were deliberatively deceptive when passing their health reform law. Gruber said: This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. . . . Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the `stupidity of the American voter' or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.

    That is from Jonathan Gruber, as I said, an architect of ObamaCare.

    Well, 4\1/2\ years after the law has passed, it is clear Americans were right to be concerned. The law that was supposed to reduce the cost of health care for American families is actually driving up prices.

    Each Friday my office puts out a document featuring the ObamaCare headlines of the week. I would like to read a few headlines from the past week that I think give a picture of where we are with this law.

    This is from the Associated Press: ``Healthcare.gov average premiums going up in 2015.'' From the Wall Street Journal: ``More Cost of Health Care Shifts to Consumers.'' From Businessweek: ``Obamacare's Future: Cancer Patients Paying More for Medication.'' From Gallup: ``Cost Still a Barrier Between Americans and Medical Care.'' From the Fiscal Times: ``High Deductible Plans Have More People Delaying Treatment.'' From U.S. News & World Report: ``Americans Unhappy With Obamacare Shopping Experience.'' And from The Hill: ``Security Flaws Found in Obamacare Fee Calculator.'' And I could go on. Those are just headlines from last week. I could read similar headlines from the week before and from the week before that.

    Any way you look at it, ObamaCare is a mess. The President promised the law would lower premiums by $2,500. In fact, the average family health care premium has increased by $3,064 since the law was passed, and family premiums are still going up.

    The President promised Americans could keep the health care plans they had and liked. In reality, ObamaCare has forced millions of Americans off their plans.

    [[Page S6435]] The President promised that Americans would be able to keep the doctors they liked. In fact, Americans have lost the doctors they liked and trusted, not to mention access to convenient hospitals and needed medications.

    The President promised that shopping for ObamaCare would be like shopping on Amazon or Kayak. The reality is the President's own former Health and Human Services Secretary recently admitted it was more like buying an airline ticket using your fax machine.

    We are still just talking about the ways ObamaCare has harmed Americans' health care. But the damage hasn't been confined to health care. ObamaCare is also hurting our already sluggish economy.

    Take the ObamaCare tax on lifesaving medical devices, such as pacemakers and insulin pumps. This tax has already eliminated thousands of jobs in the medical device industry, and it is on track to eliminate thousands more if it isn't repealed. In fact, this tax is so bad that even Democrats who voted for ObamaCare support repealing the tax.

    Then there is the ObamaCare 30-hour workweek rule, which has forced employers to cut workers' hours and wages, and there are the numerous-- numerous--ObamaCare rules and regulations that are making it difficult for small businesses to hire and create jobs. It is no wonder that Democrats are rethinking their decisions to support this law.

    Americans have made it clear they do not like ObamaCare, and Republicans are listening. One of our top priorities when we take the majority in the Senate in the new Congress will be working to repeal this law and replacing it with real reforms--reforms that will actually cut costs and improve Americans' access to health care.

    In the meantime, we will focus on chiseling away at the law's most harmful provisions. We want to repeal the job-killing medical device tax and restore the 40-hour workweek so that employers will no longer be forced to cut workers' hours in order to afford health care costs. Many Democrats as well as Republicans opposed these ObamaCare provisions, so I look forward to bipartisan repeals.

    The senior Senator from New York was right when he said Democrats made a mistake when they decided to focus on the President's health care law instead of on jobs and the economy. In poll after poll, Americans have made it clear they want their representatives in Washington focused on creating jobs and on growing the economy, and that is what the new Republican majority in the Senate intends to do.

    We will take up legislation to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline and the 42,000-plus jobs it would support. We will take up House-passed bills that have been gathering dust on the Democratic leader's desk.

    We will work with the President to expand trade promotion authority to open new markets for American agricultural products and manufactured goods, and we will take up legislation to repeal the President's national energy tax, which could eliminate tens of thousands--hundreds of thousands--of jobs and devastate entire communities.

    We also intend to take up big projects that would help put our economy on a path to long-term health, such as legislation to simplify and streamline our costly and inefficient Tax Code.

    The election results were pretty decisive. Americans made it very clear they were tired of the Democrats' policies and they wanted a change in Washington, and Republicans are listening. Our priorities in the next Congress will be the American people's priorities. We will focus on creating jobs and growing our economy, and we hope the Democrats will join us. The American people have been waiting long enough.

    Madam President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The assistant bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.

    Mr. COBURN. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

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