Prayerby Senator Jeff Flake
Posted on 2013-09-24
FLAKE. I came to the floor to urge my colleagues to do everything
we can to ensure that ObamaCare is delayed, guaranteeing the least-
harmful pass forward for patients, providers, and taxpayers.
We all have stories from our home States that highlight what many of us have said was going to happen when the Federal Government began its takeover of the Nation's health care system.
Because of ObamaCare, a constituent of mine in Arizona who owns a number of restaurants is eliminating the entry-level job of busboy because he can no longer afford to employ busboys and pay the new health care expenses for his other employees. Eliminating a restaurant- wide position is a decision that he had to make because of ObamaCare.
Another Arizonan, Michael Monti, who runs a historic restaurant in Tempe, was recently featured on the local news because he is being forced to decide about whether to offer health insurance to his employees working more than 30 hours a week or paying the penalty from the Federal Government. Again, it is likely that employees will be laid off or not hired.
He doesn't want to cut back his employees' hours. That doesn't help his business. I am sure it doesn't help his employees. Like other business owners, he doesn't have any other option.
Sadly, these stories are not isolated incidents. Companies like Trader Joe's and Home Depot have recently announced they will end health benefits for part-time workers next year, and those employees will be directed to the new insurance marketplaces.
SeaWorld announced that it will be cutting back employees' hours as well. UPS will no longer cover the health insurance for some 15,000 employees' spouses.
Just when we need a full bore, full-time economy, America is becoming a part-time economy. These are the effects of ObamaCare.
I believe that it is helpful to have this debate come sharply into focus as it has been over the past 24 hours. Like many of my colleagues, I have opposed ObamaCare from the beginning. I think every Republican in the House and in the Senate has done so.
I voted to do away with this legislation more than 30 times. Earlier this month I introduced S. 1490, a bill that would delay by 1 year all of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that are supposed to take effect on January 1, 2014, or later.
I believe we all know the President has already decided to delay the employer mandate. Doesn't it make sense to delay the rest as well? How can you tell individuals there is still a mandate for you to buy insurance but to tell employers you are going to get a year break.
As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to our constituents. We have to do everything we can to make sure that this train wreck of a law doesn't continue to wreak havoc. As we continue to discuss the need to delay this onerous law, I hope that Senators will join me in devoting the same time and energy to fix the fiscal problems facing this country.
In this debate we are told we have two choices. We have a continuing resolution with a price tag of about $986 billion--about $20 billion more than the law allows--or we risk a government shutdown. It is disingenuous to tell our constituents that these are the only two choices, a shutdown or a CR that busts our budget limits.
The majority leader is going to amend the CR to get what he wants. Shouldn't other Members be afforded the opportunity to offer amendments as well? Wasn't this the promise the majority leader made to the Senate when we made changes in January? The Senate should be given the opportunity to vote on a continuing resolution that respects the Budget Control [[Page S6857]] Act and funds the government at the $967 billion level for next year. Passing a bill above that limit--above the limit set by law--will cause a second round of sequester cuts in January. Why would we do this? Lurching from fiscal crisis to fiscal crisis is no way to run a country.
You can say what you want about it, but the Budget Control Act has provided us at least some meaningful cuts in spending we wouldn't make otherwise. Last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported our debt is on track to total 100 percent of our Nation's output in 25 years. Interest on the national debt will consume 14 percent of our annual budget in 10 years' time, up from 6 percent today.
Those projections demand we take a harder look at our spending and, at the very least, we should be allowed to vote on a fiscally responsible continuing resolution that meets the $967 billion budget threshold.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Montana.