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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 12, 2013 12:30am-2:31am EST

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use its legislative power to build the largest middle class the world has ever seen. those living-wage jobs, every one of them means a foundation for a family. if you want to talk family values, then fight to have this body, this senate work on legislation that creates living-wage jobs. quit paralyzing the senate. then we have, of course, the fact that this new strategy just in these recent months, so -- a deliberate attack on the balance of powers. the constitution envisioned three branches in balance. it has no hint of any kind that a minority of one branch should be able to undermine the operation of the other two branches. but some colleagues have seized upon a strategy of trying to undermine the integrity of our judiciary.
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some colleagues have seized on a strategy of trying to undermine the capability of the elected executive branch, the president and his executive branch. read your history. balance of powers. not the ability of a minority of one branch to undermine the success of the other two branches. we need these three branches each doing their assigned roles. so here we are now after this long set of strategies, of paralysis on moashedz --, motions to proceed, on executive branch nominees, on shall judicial nominees, the first step towards restoring the function of the u.s. senate and said we should return to the up-and-down votes as envisioned
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by advice and consent, as envisioned by alexander hamilton who railed against the notion that a minority would be able to knock block the will of the majority in a chamber. and in a strategy of tral paralysis we're here rather than having voted much earlier in the day and instead of working on legislation that would create jobs, we're standing here through a series of nominations as the minority inn cysts on wasting the valuable commodity of time of this chamber. i hope that my colleagues who are intent upon creating this huge imbalance between the branches will reconsider, that they will decide they want to see this chamber become what it was when i was here in the 1970's and when i worked for congress in the 1980's, a great blibd, what -- deliberated --, deliberative
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body. what it was when we fought world war ii, build the great middle class. that's what the united states wants to see. may we make it so. thank you, mr. president. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. scott: thank you, mr. president. to change the rules our friends on the left had to break the rules. mr. president, we're here tonight because the obama administration and our friends on the left needed a distraction. by invoking the nuclear option, leading up to tonight's vote on nina pillard to the d.c. circuit, they are attempting to quiet a disaster of their own making. please note that this is a court that will hear the a.c.a. disputes. it was easy enough for them to paint a rosy picture of life after obamacare and for three years, they did it and they did their best to do so. but words can only go so far and no speech will help the failed
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implementation of the monster they have created. health care premiums for the average american family have already gone up by $2,500 since obamacare has become law. let's say that one more time. the average premium that an american family will have to face and then pay is $2,500. as costs continue to rise for middle-class americans, the median household income has dropped by more than $3,600 under president obama. so if you take $2,500 and you add in the drop of income of $3,600, the difference for the average american household under president obama's watch is significant. that doesn't even take into consideration the skyrocketing
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costs and the increasing deductibles under obamacare. according to "the wall street journal," the average individual deductible for what is called a bronze plan on the exchange, the lowest priced coverage, is a $5,000 average deductible. this is 42% higher than the average deductible today of $3,589 that you would currently purchase in 2015. tell me how this helps those in need, how does it help the most vulnerable in our society? the answer is simple. it doesn't. and so we're here tonight because democrats need a break from having this pointed out to them again and again and again as newspapers, magazineses, tv stations have been doing for the last several weeks.
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folks in south carolina -- i'll tell you that in south carolina, we have about 4.7 million people. 600,000 or 700,000 folks do not have health insurance coverage. 4.6 million, 4.7 million south carolinians of which about 700,000 today do not have health insurance. but under obamacare, we would hope, we would hope that the number would go down, not up up. go from 7 hoopt down to 600,000 or 500,000, 400,000. it is over 430,000 of the 700,000 people are eligible for obamacare. but the number is not going down. the number is going up. because 150,000 south carolinians have received cancellation notices. let's frame that a little bit.
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we have 700,000 uninsured of which 430,000 are eligible for obamacare. and yet instead of seeing the number of uninsured go from 700,000 down to 600,000 or 500,000 or 400,000, we've seen the number go up because 150,000 people have received cancellation notices. 150,000 south carolinians have received cancellation notices. so -- someone would obviously ask the question how many folks have signed up for obamacare in south carolina? if 430,000 south carolinians are eligible to sign up, we ought to answer the question how many have signed up? as of late november, only 600
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south carolinians had successfully signed up for obamacare. that means that under the implementation process of what some consider the solution to america's woes on health insurance, only 600 south carolinians have been able to successfully sign up for obamacare even though 430,000 are eligible, 700,000 do not have insurance but only 600 of them have been able to sign up for obamacare. you know, when you think about those numbers, it reminds me of the fact that the challenges that we face with going through the process of seeing the d.c. court stacked to hear the disputes, part of the challenge we see is that obamacare hasn't worked so stacking the court seems like the most likely option for our friends on the
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left. when we started out having this conversation about obamacare, we started having a conversation about those who were uninsured and i think every american in our country wants to see greater access to health insurance. but the vast majority of americans do not want to see the government take it over and now we understand why. in 2009, 2009, not 1999, but 2009, we had an estimated cost for the unaffordable care act of around $900 billion. 2011 they came back and said wait, wait, wait, wait. i need to take another look at this. and the estimate came back of $1.8 trillion. so 2009, $900 billion. and in 2011, the number had already increased to $1.8 trillion or 100% increase in the estimated cost of the affordable care act.
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and now just two more years later we see the number could perhaps eclipse $3 trillion. and all we're talking about is the upfront price tag. the price of obamacare on the front end. but we haven't delved into the actual cost of obamacare because those estimates say on the back end of the affordable care act we're going to see a $7 trillion increase or addition to our debt. and we started in 2009 or 2010, 2009 with $900 billion, 2011, $1.8 trillion, perhaps over $3 trillion, adding $7 trillion to the deficit. but that's not the whole picture. you see, families in south carolina, families in south carolina still have to struggle with finding access to affordable health care and obamacare is simply not providing the access. so we see families like the hawks. the everyday american family.
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mr. hawks loves his family. in greenville, south carolina, he loves his family. he spends 12 to 14 hours a day working hard as a financial advisor in south carolina and mr. hucks, unfortunately, faces the challenges of buying health insurance through obamacare. and as he went through the process of trying to figure out what would happen -- and certainly he liked his coverage but, of course, he can't keep it, period. he can't keep it. he just cannot keep his coverage. so as i was talk to mr. jason hucks in greenville just about two weeks ago, jason currently has a blue cross/blue shield high deductible plan, i want you to remember the word deductible, we'll come back and have a conversation about deductibles. he has a high deductible plan that covers him and his wife and their cute two little boys.
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so instead of having a conversation between mr. and mrs. hucks about planning for the college education of those two fine young men, they're having instead a conversation about can they afford the health care coverage. so what's happened? let's take a look. their current plan with a $10,000 deductible cost them over $415 a month. to stay on the blue cross/blue shield plan under obamacare, mr. hucks and his family would have to pay nearly a thousand dollars a month, $895, almost a thousand dollars a month. more than doubling the premium. and they will see their deductible increase by 150%.
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so a deductible that was $10,000 -- it's pretty high, significantly high. but go to $25,000 for this young family of four. that just doesn't seem right to me. it doesn't seem fair. we believe in fairness. but for those who are most vulnerable, having access to $25,000 before their health insurance company is able to start paying is quite a high price to pay. digging into your savings account for $25,000. because obamacare takes their $10,000 deductible, not to $15,000, not to $20,000, but to $25,000. this is simply not fair.
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this is not how we treat the most vulnerable in our society, by seeing their deductible go up by 150%. i simply don't understand. it's just -- it's just wrong. it's not right. and even if they were willing to switch companies, he would still see his rates rise almost 75% and his deductible would still rise from $10,000 to $12,000. no wonder they're trying to stack the d.c. courts because when you see a young family not planning for a 529 plan, not planning to send their kid to clemson university or the university of south carolina, but instead they're planning on tightening their belts because they have to have a budget. and making plans to not have a
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$10,000 deductible but have a $12,000 deductible with a 20% increase in the deductible and a 75% increase in the cost. this is the effect of the affordable care act. it becomes unaffordable for the average american family. as for a plan with co.s co-pays, mr. huk says flatly he can't afford to have a conversation about co-pays, because a plan with a co-pay would skyrocket his premiums from $415 or so to as high as $1,200 or $1,500 a month. so instead of being able to go see a doctor and have a conversation and pay a 20% co-pay, instead of having the opportunity to -- to do what many of us have been doing for the last decade-plus, paying a
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$15, $20, $25 or $30 co-pay to see a doctor, instead he doesn't have a $10,000 deductible, not a $15,000 deductible, but a $20,000 deductible. this is wrong. it is not right. mr. huk's family is an example of how it is not just premiums that are rising but deductibles are going through the roof. this is painful for a family that should be planning for college but instead of planning for college, no, they're planning to spend more money on their health care because the affordable care act is so unaffordable. the ne"the new york times" recey quoted someone faced with this problem as saying the deductibles were so high, $4,000 to $6,000 a year, that it very much defeats the purpose of having insurance.
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i wonder why we say that. well, let's just think about it for just a minute or two. think about a family -- think about a family who has a $4,000 deductible. what does that mean to your average family? where americans are spending over 100% of their income? what that means to the average family is that you've got to figure out how to pay $4,000 in visiting your doctors, getting your x-rays, having everything done at the doctor's office, getting your blood work done, before you saw your $4,000 deductible and before your health insurance plan starts paying. but under obamacare, you would think that this number would go down. but it doesn't. it goes up. as a matter of fact, it goes up
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so quickly that in the first year of obamacare, it goes from a average out-of-pocket expense of $6,350 to over $12,000. not $4,000. not $5,000. not $6,000. but over $12,000 of out-of-pocket expenses. and so i'm looking forward to the day that we have a serious conversation about a free market solution that would reduce the cost of health insurance and at the exact same time create greater access for the average person in america to afford a free market health insurance policy. that's where we need to go. that's where the conversation should be. but instead of having that conversation, we're having a conversation about deductibles jumping $5,000, out-of-pocket expenses going up significantly. and what i should have said is
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that when you combine the out-of-pocket expenses and the deductibles, the out-of-pocket total for a year is $12,000. the average deductible is a little over $5,000. we're talking about a significant taking from the average american family, taking their money out of their pockets in the form of deductibles, taking out of their pockets in the form of a co-pay. and, god forbid that you actually go outside of the network. in many of these plans -- in many of these plans, we're talking about zero coverage out of network for ambulatory care. so you bear 100% of the cost. so don't travel to the wrong place, the wrong plan, at the wrong time. you'll find yourself stuck without benefits. because, unfortunately, the a.c.a. isn't affordable for most
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americans. we find that sad. we think we're having a conversation about nominees here today and we think that we're having a conversation about nominees because president obama has somehow, some way been treated than president bush and other folks. but the facts are simply inconsistent with the reality. the ultimate universe has been great on the left. the presiding officer: all postcloture time has expired. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: we're going to have the confirmation of cornelia pillard. that will be the first vote. then, mr. president, we're going to have -- i don't believe there will be a need for a roll call vote on the quorum. i think there will be enough senators here that the chair will be able to see clearly there's 51 senators here. and then we'll have a cloture on executive calendar numbers 378. that's chi chai i feldblum.
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now, mr. president, we will have -- the next vote will be tomorrow morning at about 9:00 -- not about, it will be at:00 tomorrow morning. this morning, i'm sorry. and, mr. president, we're -- we're going to do everything we can to finish our schedule before christmas, but it's going to be pushing it. so we'll do our best. but this session doesn't end until the end of the year. and so we're going to continue working until we get our work done. i'm not going to yield back all of our time on all of our nominations. we'll do those piece by piece. i hope the body's been able to understand what a waste of time this has been but we're going to confirm these nominations and that's a step in the right direction. the presiding officer: the question occurs on the nomination. a senator: ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
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voigh vote:
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the presiding officer: have all senators voted? does any senator wish to change his or her vote? if not, the yeas are 51, the nays are 44 and the nomination is confirmed. the clerk will report the motion to invoke cloture. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of i could rachel felled bloom of the district of columbia to be a member of the equal opportunity employment commission signed by 19 senators. the presiding officer: the chair dlects the the clerk to call the roll to determine the presence of a quorum. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. the clerk will continue to call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: a quorum is present. the question is, is it the sense of the senate to debate on the nomination of chai rachel felled bloom to be a member of the equal opportunity employment commission. the yeas and nays are mandatory under the rule.
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the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: does any senator wish to vote? any senator wish to change his
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or her vote? if not, on this vote, the yeas are 57, the nays are 39. and the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, equal employment opportunity commission, cie rachel feldblum of the -- can i rache chai rachel feldblum.the presidt to rest sez 15 of the 113th congress, there will now be up to eight hours of postcloture consideration of the nomination. the majority leader. mr. reid: it's my understanding, if i yield back 40 minutes, the vote would occur at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. reid: i yield back 40 minutes of democrat time. the presiding officer: the time is so yielded.
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a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mr. flake: i rise to address the nomination and some other issues. madam president, let me just say a few words about nominations. the senate just confirmed president obama's third nominee to the d.c. circuit court this year and did so without the support of a single senator from the minority party. i have only been in the senate for a year but i understand the importance of minority rights and the moderating effect that the minority has on the nominations and on legislation as a whole. requiring the support of at least some of the minority senators encourages both the nomination and appointment of more mainstream nominees.
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i think in the case of executive nominees, it ensures the heads of executive agencies responsible to both a minority and majority parties. minority input reinforces the separation of powers and safeguards the ability of congress to conduct effective oversight. let me just give a couple of examples of where i think this is important and something that we have lost once the nuclear option was employed with regard to executive appointments. earlier this year, we had the appointment of a person to head the environmental protection agency. extremely important agency, important to arizona, particularly arizona with a lot of federal lands, a lot of state lands, public lands in general, where actions of the federal government are perhaps amplifi amplified. and so that was an extremely important appointment. i ended up voting for gina mccarthy. i think she is a good nominee
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and i understand the president won the election, he has -- he has the power to appoint his people and his team. and unless there are extraordinary circumstances, he ought to have that right. and i voted for most of his nominees, nearly all of them, in fact. and in this case, though, the head of the environmental protection agency, while she was the nominee, knew that she needed 60 votes. she knew that she ought to see not just the members of the majority party but those in the minority as well and she made the rounds, to my office as well as others. and we had a good meeting. i explained to her the importance, for example, of the dust regulations that were promulgated by the e.p.a., where arizona has a problem. we have occasional dust storms that aren't recognized as such. and sometimes we have to fill out paperwork that was costly and time-consuming just to convince the federal government
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that an occasional dust storm does blow through. it has nothing to do with the air quality or protections or provisions that have been put in place but just because of the conditions on the grouped. the -- ground. but the e.p.a.'s guidance and regulations just haven't caught up to that yesterday. she was understanding of that. she had worked at the state level and -- and agreed to talk to the stakeholders and interested parties in arizona about this issue. she made good on that promise. we had that conference call a few days -- or a few weeks later. and it was the first time that many of these people in arizona had been heard on the issue. they had a good meeting with the e.p.a. and it will, i think, lead to better regulations come out of the e.p.a. that was a product that we had
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not just to the majority party but to the minority party as well. i feel that's been lost and i think that's a shame. i wish we could go back to the system that we had and the system the senate has operated on for a long, long time. when i gave my maiden speech here on this floor a few months ago, i mentioned that the party holding the gavel is on a short leash. bringing even the most noncontroversial resolutions to the senate floor requires the agreement, or at least the ack acquiescence, of the minority party. i mentioned at that time, that over the past decade both parties have chafed under these arrangements. both parties have at times considered changing the rules that would in some measure make the senate more like the house. i mentioned at that time -- up to that time that both parties had resisted that urge and had
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been convinced by their own members and others that it wasn't the way to go. unfortunately that's no longer the case, and i think this body, this institution will be the poorer for it. and i hope that we can return to the traditions of the senate, one where consensus is the hallmark of this body. i hope that we can get there. let me turn my attention to one of the issues that i think is a good example of what happens when one party moves legislation through this body too quickly without consultations from the other party, and that has to do with the affordable care act. the affordable care act passed with not a single republican vote in the house or in the senate. and i think it is a good example of what can happen if legislation is rushed through without consultation or input from both parties. let me just talk a little about
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some of the issues that have come up with the affordable care act, better known as obamacare. "the wall street journal" had an editorial that talked about some of the issues that are going on with the enrollment data. it said, most of washington seems to have bought the white house claim that 36 federal exchanges are finally working. they go on to explain what working really means. "a charitable reading suggests that obamacare's net enrollment stands for about a negative 4 million. that's the estimated 4 million to 5.5 million people tha who he had their individual plans liquidated as obamacare noncompliant -- they were liquidated because they were noncompliant with obamacare. that has offset that 662,000 who have signed up on the state and federal exchanges and the
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803,000 -- 803,077 who have been found to be eligible to receive medicaid. it means that net enrollment, people who now are covered by insurance of some type, has gone down by about 4 million. i think that when you consider that things are picking up in terms of people signing up but they're still being dropped far faster from private insurance plans than they're being picked up. it goes on, this editorial from "the wall street journal," saying, "h.h.s. is boasting of enrollment for november that was four times as high as october yet 62% of the total was in state exchanges less prone to crashing than the federal version. then again 41 states posted signupsignups including eight ss
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that run their own exchanges. oregon managed to scrape up just 34 people. among the federal signups, no state is reaching the critical mass necessary for stable insurance prices." i think that -- one thing -- problem they mention as well is that these figures are probably misleading. a larger problem, they say is that none of these represent true enrollments. h.h.s. is reporting how many people "selected" a plan on the exchange, not hoi how many peope have actually enrolled in a plan with an insurance company by paying the premium. h.h.s. has made up its own standard. i this i when we find out that there's probably a prat pretty e dropoff between those who actually enroll and those who sign up, then we'll realize that these figures are misleading as well. let me turn to another issue, a related issue on this.
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michael tanner of the cato institute had a piece the other day we are says the good news is, if you want to call it that, roughly 1.6 million americans have enrolled in obamacare so far. the not-so-good news is that 1.46 million of them actually signed up for medicaid. if the trend continues, it could bankrupt both federal and state governments. he notes that medicaid is already america's third-largest government program trailing only social security and medicare as a proportion of the federal budget, almost 8 cents of every dollar that the federal government spends goes to medicaid. that's more than $265 billion a year. as these medicaid rolls expand, we know that that's going to be a huge expense and probably a greater number of people signing up than anybody thought would do. the federal government has committed to pick up 100% of the
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cost of new enrollees for a three-year period and then 0e% thereafter -- and then 90% thereafter. if the federal government makes good on that pledge, it may cost us more than we figure and it'll increase the pressure on the federal government. if the federal government shifts the cost to the states, then the states are going to need to be prepared for a big increase as well. mentioned state governments pay another $160 billion for medicaid today. for most states, medicaid is the single-largest cost for government. new york spent more than $15 billion on medicaid last year, roughly 30% of all state expenditures. the kaiser foundation projects that just over the next ten years new york taxpayers will shell out some $433 billion for the program. there are going to be increasing pressures on state budgets as well. so these are some of the things
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that we haven't considered yet. as we go into the new year, the next big shoe to drop will be in april or so when insurance companies actually see who is eenrolling and who is not in the exchanges. i think everyone's fear is that there are too few healthy 28-year-olds signing up and more who are more high-cost enrollees, and the numbers just won't add up, and insurance companies will be forced to jack up their rates, which will make insurance even less affordable than it is today and could increase the pressures that we're talking about here both on the federal government, on state governments, and, most importantly, on families across the country. i found of of interes of interea story by cnn.
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cnn went and looked at four stories after the obamacare so-called fix. they concluded that -- in their headline, "many are still left out." let me just go over a couple of these, and it gives some idea of what families are facing. and let me just say, this mirr mirror, it's exactly what i'm hearing at home from neighbors and family and friends and exactly what i'm experiencing enrolling in the federal exchange as well. these kind of cost increases. it reads, "in the face of mounting criticism, president barack obama announced last month that he would allow insurance companies to renew so-called subpar plans for existing consumers, but nearly a month later not everyone has seen the benefit of the policy change." they note that they spoke to four people in the days and weeks that followed the president's announcement to see how they have been affected. the results were varied and for some of them, the future remains
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uncertain. when you read through the stories, it seems for everyone it is a pretty uncertain and more costly future. they take one -- the first person they talked to, a woman by the name of katherine. she said, it's a 280% increase in premiums for her feasm i fam. it was in september when katherine received her letter, the much-maligned web site had yet to be fixed. katherine knew that she would have to sign up for a new insurance plan but didn't expect her options to be so costly. she's a mom and a navy veteran, employed part-time as a nurse. her husband, a small business owner. the employer -- her employer offers insurance plans but because she was not working full-time, getting a policy to cover her family of three was
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expensive. unfortunately for her a provision in the new health care law states that, since her company offers plans that she could afford to cover herself, but not her family, she does not qualify for a subsidy from the federal government, even though she is below the income threshold. she's subject to an unusual loophole that requires her to pay the full premium on the new policy if she wants to cover her family or leave her job to get the subsidy. so you're seeing here a huge increase in premiums. 280% increase in premiums. that mirrors what i've been hearing from others as well. just down the street from me at home, greg and linda live. i got an e-mail from greg, a friend of ours, the other day. he said that he and linda, who are near 60 years old, had their insurance canceled because it was noncompliant with the new
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law. they went out and shopped on the exchange and found that the cheapest policy -- or the policy that most closely mirrored theirs -- actually not assed good as theirs but most closely mirrored theirs was double the price, nearly $00 a800 a month. that's what i'm hearing again and again and again. you read through these stories, you see it again and gend againd again. by most people's standards, valuvalentina was in excellent health. works out seven days a we, competes in triathlons with a group of friends, participated in ten to 12 races this year. she is a moderate democrat, hoped that this would help her get access to insurance and allow people who could not get
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insurance plans within their reach. she had had a plan but then everything changed in october. she was notified by her insurer that her plan could not be renewed for 2014. the comparable plan offered was a 29% increase in premiums with higher co-pays as well as significantly higher prescription costs. now, people i talk to, virtually all of them will say, not only is there an increase in premiums, but there are higher co-pays, higher max out-of-pocket costs. it's just not as affordable as it was before. and i think the fear that all of us vs i have is that we go intoe new year and we see the numbers of those who are actually signing up or not signing up. it simply means that rates are going to go up again and again. once the employer mandate kicks
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in and a lot of businesses then unload their employees into the exchange, you're simply going to seat same problem -- going to see the same problem. only those who can afford or those who are more expensive to insure will be signing up. by and large, too few healthy individuals to lower the cost for everyone in a high pi pool will enroll so costs will simply go up again. we can't have this go on, mr. president, for very much longer. this is called the affordable care act, but i think most of us are finding that it is anything but. let me just go to one more of of these stories while i have time. this is a connecticut psychologist by the name of martin. plenty of experience dealing with insurance companies. he's been practicing in the state for 11 years, runs two
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offices. they sent a letter, bluecross blueshield sent a letter notifying him that his plan would no longer be offered for renewal when it expires in january. they said that he needed to shop on the exchange. he goes on to explain, it's simply not as affordable as his old plan. mr. president, we have got to, as we go along in this coming year, find out how we can actually make good on the promise that was given to have health care that is actually accessible and affordable for those who can't access it now. we all know that the current system doesn't work very well. it needs to be changed. but changed in this manner simply means that more people are uninsured and are unsure about their future as well. i appreciate this opportunity to be here and to speak about this
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tonight. mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: thank you, mr. chairman. -- thank you, mr. president. "good morning america," wyoming. in i would i would it is midnight now. i suspect that were people watching and probably wondering what's going on. we're here at this hour dealing with a nonessential distraction and it is being done so that it's a distraction from the mounting obamacare problems. none of these nominees need to be confirmed, not even the circuit court judges, maybe especially the circuit court junls. -- judges. i was here when president bush tried to fill those judges on the d.c. circuit and i remember senators reid and the chairman of the judiciary committee making an impassioned speech
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that they weren't needed, that the workload was too low in the district of columbia. that they should not be approved. and of course since they were in the majority, they had the capability to ever keep that from happening. but when the shoe is on the other foot, they need those d.c. court judges, even though the caseload has not gone up so they broke the rules to change the rules and part of that was so that -- we're calling it obamacare ii. it was so that the american people would be distracted from the problems they're having signing up for obamacare. some of my constituents ask that i not call it obamacare. they ask that it i call it the obama tax because that's what the supreme court said was the legal part of it, that we can virtually tax anybody anything we want as long as we call it a tax. if we put it in the commerce clause, that won't work. but that's the ruling that we got from the supreme court. so right now the democrats are
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trying to distract us from what's going on across this country and, oh, boy, is it going on across this country. so we should be dealing with the problems of obamacare so that each day the health care law is going to fail to live up to the promises made by the administration. how many people have heard the president say and he started doing this clear back in the joint sessions of congress so that he could explain his law, he said if you like the insurance you've got, you can keep it. that hasn't been true almost since day one. it especially has not been true since some of the regulations have been put in place. so we have a failed law. let me tell you how bad it's failing. a couple of weekends ago i got to cheyenne, wyoming early enough to address some school kids. i actually read a children's book to kindergarten classes of a whole school. and after i finished a little
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girl came up, couldn't have been any taller than that, and she said are we going to be able to fix this health care mess? if it's gotten down to cind gartdners you -- kindergarteners, you know the adults are talking about it even more. we shouldn't be playing the grinch that stole christmas and doing a whole bunch of nonessential appointments that could well wait until after christmas or next year without hurting the courts at all. but, again, they want this outcry, they want this to detract from what's happening with obamacare. millions of people have lost their health care plans that they were told they could keep. and, of course, the president has been forced now to admit that he broke his promise. but he didn't remove the promise from the white house health care web site. a week ago it still said if you like your plan, you can keep it and you don't have to do a
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thing. well, i guess that might be partly true because he announced a new initiative he said would really allow people to keep their existing health insurance plans this time. he should have added if you wanted to be honest, for a short time. because that's all he gave them. and that isn't even true because one thing he doesn't have the power under the constitution to do is to rewrite or ignore the laws. we passed a law by this body and the house and he signed it and he continually talks about how that's settled law. and you can't change it. and then about twice a week, he changes it without authority, ignoring the written laws passed by congress. so it would also mean he'd have to be willing to ignore a 2010 administration regulation that's prevented insurers from continuing to offer insurance for millions of individuals and
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small businesses. that's right at the same time the president was promising out of one side of his mouth people could keep their health insurance, the other side was approving rules that would make that impossible. and everyone who was in the senate at the time knew it. it was right there in the federal register and it was written by the president's own administration. congress knew, and the administration knew the president was not telling the truth. but he kept making the promise anyway. when one party has 60 votes in the senate, the minority party has very limited things it can do. there are a few exceptions to the majority leader's control, but essentially he decides what the senate can debate and vote on and i've noticed that if an amendment comes up that he doesn't like instead of having us vote on it, he pulls the bill down. now, that's not the way that it used to be. we used to be able to put
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amendments in and even if the majority didn't like the amendment we still had to vote on it. if they didn't like it, they voted it down. but that doesn't happen anymore. a number of bills we've done around here have been prevented from having amendments. and sometimes this negotiation process that the leader uses takes two or three weeks. the amendments could be voted on in a week if they were allowed to be voted on but this process of negotiating so he can tell the minority what amendments he's willing to address of ours, that takes away the right for us to represent our constituents. problems are different in the west. problems are different in wyoming. problems are different in big cities. you can't have one size fits all that works for everything. the reason there are so many members of the senate and so many members of the house is so that the unintended consequences might be found before a bill becomes law. that hasn't been the case around
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here. that definitely was not the case on obamacare. so the leader has helped the majority to prevent us from being able to bring up any amendments on any number of topics and that's led to what we're doing tonight. we're taking advantage of some of our rights as the minority to see if we are going to get a chance at all. nobody ever expected one party to be able to dictate to the other party, of course, the other side did have 60 votes and when you got 60 votes you can do anything you want because there's no such thing as a filibuster if you can get all 60 votes. you'll probably remember that the majority had to kind of buy some of those votes. yeah, there was the nebraska cornhusker kickback, and that senator decided not to run again. and there's been the louisiana purchase and that senator is up
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for election. and there was the florida deal and the new york deal that dealt with medicare advantage. none of the rest of the states got those deals. and they had to be done, those are places where there are a lot of seniors and it was going to take away some of their capability for health care insurance that they already had. in fact, the bill stole $716 billion from medicare and medicare was going broke. and it did it to make new programs. it didn't do it to fix medicare. tomorrow in the finance committee we're going to be marking up a doc fix, a thing so doctors will be paid adequately, there was a provision to continually reduce the amount they're getting and as you reduce the amount doctors can get even in times of inflation pretty quick the doctors can't afford to run their practice. when they can't run their practice, they they don't see medicare patients and, in fact, some practices shut down. others sell out to the hospital.
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do you think it's cheaper to get health care from a doctor or health care from a hospital? that drives up the cost again. so one sure way to inject something not approved by the majority leader is to find and offensive regulation and petition the senate for a debate and a simple majority vote. we have this thing called the congressional review act and that's exactly how it works but you got to keep your eye on the federal register. and because that's where the administration reports what the effects are going to be and what the actual regulations are and sometimes the regulations have more of an impact than the law itself. and that was the case in this instance. again, it dealt with this if you like your insurance you can keep it but there was a regulation that came out in 2010 that took away that right. yes, i'm the accountant, i read the bills, and now i even have to admit i read the federal register, but there are a lot
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of dollars mentioned in there and some of those are consequences of the bill. and if you can catch one of those regulations within 60 days of the regulation's publication and get enough people to sign a petition, you're guaranteed eight hours of debate and an up-or-down vote. and if you miss that date, it can't be brought up again. and once it's been brought up, it can't be brought up again. and so if you lose the vote or you lose the opportunity, it can't be brought up again. that opportunity is gone. and that's an opportunity the democrats in the senate squandered. every single one voted to defeat my resolution and many ridiculed the effort. over the next few months their constituents are going to make them answer for this. and i can tell some of them are already antszy over it -- antsy over it, they're drafting bills and when you draft a bill in the
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context of a crisis, there's -- the legislative rule, if it's worth reacting to, it's worth overreacting to. so once again, it isn't something brought through the correct process and ironed out so there aren't unintended consequences. and they'll have to pay a price. they need to pay attention when there's a rule that's going to affect people adversely and i have heard their arguments, there were a number of issues in this regulation and there were two that they thought they are good -- were good. two they thought were good. isn't any reason they couldn't have voted for the thing, brought those two back. that's how it ought to work. i really think congress ought to have the right to review every major regulation and if we don't have a majority vote for that regulation it should never go into effect. now, a lot of the regulations are written by the administration but the direction for doing the regulation comes
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from congress. it's to get into a level of detail that we don't handle here but maybe we should. maybe that ought to be our biggest job to make sure that the regulations are what we want to have happen and to be sure that the unintended consequences aren't even in the regulation. but we've kind of given that away, but now we need to be sure we take back some oversight over that. otherwise you've got an administration that's a runaway and that's a situation that we have right now. so i fought against the new health care law for the past four years because i knew there was no way the president could keep all of the promises he was making about how the law would affect the average americans. as an accountant and a former small business owner, i understood that you can't mandate that everyone must purchase gold plated health insurance plans without increasing costs and causing millions of people to lose their
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existing insurance plans. in fact, i've talked about exchanges and the exchange there is not the one i envisioned at all. i didn't expect that the federal government is going to say there are only four types of plans, bronze to platinum but if you don't pick out one of our four plans, you can't have a plan. we did prescription part d and at that time there were only two companies that were providing seniors with prescription drugs in wyoming. i was a little worried about what was going to happen if we opened the market a little bit. i was hopeful that it would cause more competition. and that's exactly what happened. instead of two companies providing the pharmaceuticals, 48 of them were intefd in doing that. that created confusion but there was an exchange you could go in to and list the drugs you were taking. and when you hit the button, it said these are the companies
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that can provide that drug and this is the price that you'll have to pay. before that went into effect, it saved seniors 25%. that's what competition does. that's how the insurance plan should be set up. i've had a ten-step bill since before the president became a senator that suggested how we could provide insurance for everyone. another thing that kind of fascinates me is the president talks about how we eliminated the caps for chronic illnesses so that nobody has to lose their insurance or lose their pay just because they have a chronic illness. you know what the flaw in that juan is? if you're in medicare, there are still caps. if you're a senior, there are still caps. we didn't remove those. so even that's not a completely true statement. so -- there's a little bit more
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here. if you can't keep the health plans you like, then you're going to have a tougher time keeping the doctors and the hospitals you like. and we're hearing those stories all over the nation right now. of course, the biggest problem and the one that's this little kindergartener was raising is getting on the web site to even be able to sign up for one of these policies that has more in it than what a family might want. particularly what an individual might want. we've had a lot of discussion on that. but that web site's just the tip of the iceberg. that's what we've seen so far. the web site failures. and i think a lot of people have noticed that there are some web site failures out there. in fact, i remember jay leno saying you got to watch these health care sites because there are 700 sites already trying to steal your personal information, steal your identity. but he did point out that
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there's one way to know if you're on a phony site. if you're able to sign up, you're on a phony site. so yes, there have been web site failures. here's what's coming yet. higher premiums, canceled coverages, you can't keep your doctor, if you cant see your doctor, do you have any insurance at allam ? i don't think. and the fraud and identity theft i mentioned and higher co-pays and deductibles. pretty universal. might be a few examples of where this has been benefited somebody but most of the people are paying through the nose and finding out it's very hard for them to be able to afford the insurance that they want. so should get ready for the next wave of disappointment and frustration. by the expectations created by this president and his public relations machine, as they come crashing up the harsh reality of the real world.
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obamacare casualties will continue to grow even as the president launches media blitz after media blitz and those cost some money,iness denltsly -- ints dentallyincidentally, in ao convince people that bigger debt for this country is a good thing. one of the things that we were able to get in the bill was a requirement that the senate and the house had to come under the same rules as everybody else when it came to exchanges. that's created quite a bit of consternation around here. in the committees, it's improved things. i remember about four months ago in the finance committee, we were having a hearing with the people doing this web site, this web site that has all the failures. and we were asking, both sides were asking intense questions because we wanted to be sure this thing would work. and one of the questions was, you know, how's it -- how's it coming? and they said, oh, it's fine. we've already beta tested it.
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it will work when it comes to october 1. everything will work. well, i remember senator baucus saying, could we get a list of the people that beta tested it. to my knowledge, he's never gotten that list, because what we found out since is, it hadn't been tested yet at that time. would that be considered a lie? not sure that all the hearings are under oath. maybe they ought to be. but at any rate, it wasn't rea ready. as it turned out, there was 26 hours of beta testing. talking to some of the other companies that would have liked to, that tried to bid on that and bid for a final project instead of bidding for a cost-plus job -- that's what we got was a cost-plus job -- so any way that they complicated it makes it more expensive, makes them earn more money. but tawrkin talking to some of e other companies, they should that that have been beta tested for at least six weeks to six
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months. and not only that, they should have had professional hackers trying to get into that system to see what's happening. now, we keep having hearings on this and i remember one of them, secretary sebelius was there, and we were asking about the security of the information. and i'm still trying to figure this out. she should that the information goes in there and it pings around to the different people that need it but none of it is stored in the system. and everybody's saying, so how do you retrieve your record? well, i guess that's a problem that some of the americans are having. they put that information in there, they try to retrieve their record, they can't get their record. so it's -- it's a system that's fraught with a lot of problems and should never have happened. but i guess that's what happens when you -- when you get in a hurry and you aren't ready for it and you're more interested in public relations and media blitzes than you are in getting it right. i know the president went coast to coast and all over the place and he sent other people to try
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and convince people that higher premiums and worse coverage and a bigger debt for this country is a good thing. oh, yeah, that's another interesting thing at our hearing. we were asked, they said that the premiums came down and so there were some extensive questions about that because there weren't very many people that were aware of any of it come down. and the explanation was that the administration's estimate was that there would be that the prices would go up by 68%. and they only went up by 45%. so that was a reduction in rat rates. no, that was an increase in rates. and you can't fool the american people that way. a lot of this is smoke and mirrors attempt -- a lot of this is a smoke-and-mirrors attempt and it's not working. so what's the opposition doing? we're doing a bunch of judges that don't need to be approved, and that's to take the attention off of obamacare. but we're not going to let that happen. the american public deserves to know what's happening with
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obamacare. the american public is concerned about it. when you've got kindergartners concerned about it, you've got a lot of people concerned about it. in fact, we did a cookie party at our office today. my wife bakes a couple thousand cookies every year and it's for the people that do the real work around the senate. it's for the additio -- the jand the carpenters and the electricians and plumbers and guards and people that work in the restaurants. and they all come by. and i was surprised at how many of them were concerned about what's happening with their insurance. and their ability to -- to get on it. and some of them even recognized the effort that i made in 2010 to get the congressional review act, that only window that we had to reverse that lie that if you like your insurance, you can keep it. so during the health care deba debate, the president and his congressional allies also promised that the new health care law would reduce health insurance premiums for american families. i covered that briefly but i and
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my colleagues argued that rather than saving money, the new law instead would drive up the costs of insurance for millions of families. there's no way in there to increase the competition. you're going to increase the competition, you need to have the sale of insurance across state lines, you need to have people be able to go through an association to get a big enough group that they can effectively negotiate with an insurance company. there are a lot of ways of getting that to increase. and that didn't happen. so essentially we're at -- there were also some co-ops that were formed. and now it looks like the money that went to the co-ops may have been money poured down the drain because apparently they're not doing too well. so disastrous planning and implementation of the web site
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has drove up cost. if 60 votes passed the whole thing without a single republican vote, that they would be stuck with it. and that's exactly where the majority is at the present time. stuck with it. so people are learning how much their premiums are increasing and the more they do, the more people will not appreciate how the president's promise failed to reflect the reality of the new health care law. i think they really thought they might get to just kind of pick what they needed and find out what the cost was. that was -- that was my idea fr how we ought to do it. i presented that with the president at the summit. after the bill was passed. he should have done it before the bill was passed but he did it after the bill was passed. a dozen of us and a dozen democrats got invited to the blair house to tell him what we thought should be in the bill. and the strange thing about that was, every time that a republican threw out an idea, he just chopped it to bits.
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he didn't comment on the democrat ones. at the end of the day, he gave a speech that he'd obviously written the day before because it didn't deal with any of the ideas that we had discussed on either side of the aisle. and he obviously rejected every one of the republican ideas. i talked about exchanges at that and said you should be able to go on-line, have a list of insurance possibilities and you could check whatever possibility you thought you needed. one of the things they talk about is if you're a 60-year-old lady that's had a hysterectomy, you probably don't need maternity care so you wouldn't check that box. but you'd check the boxes that you thought applied, that you'd really like to have. and when you hit the "enter" key, it would bring up the list of companies that would provide exactly what you wanted and tell you what the cost would be. you wouldn't have to sit down with a dozen or two dozen insurance agents and hear their
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pitch for why they're the best. you would be able to tell what you wanted and then you'd be able to see who provided it and what it would cost. and then you'd have choices. and that would inspire competition. partly because each of the companies would know what the other companies were selling things for. and that sometimes brings prices down as well. so we had disastrous planning and implementation and people are starting to learn how much their premiums are increasing. the president and his allies also promised that the new law would improve the economy and protect medicare beneficiaries. i've always been wondering how that would work. we now know that the small businesses across the country are not hiring workers because of the impact of the health care law and the impact that it will have on their bottom lines. i'm traveling wyoming and i run into a guy who says, you know,
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i've got this great business and it's time for me to expand and thank -- town i want to go to, there's a -- expand, and in this town i want to go to, there's this phenomenal location and it's the perfect location, and the price is right. should i expand? one of the questions that i ask is, how many employees do you have? and if he says 45 or 50, i say, i'd take another look at it because you better see the effect that obamacare is going to have on what you're trying to do. and in most of those instances, they have not increased. there are a number of problems that way. i was in a small business committee hearing and i was kind of wondering what aggregation meant. that's a pretty big word to use in there. but they were able to explain aggregation. and aggregation means that this rule that if you're under 30 hours, you're considered part time. so we changed it from being under 40 hours to being under 30 hours before it was part time.
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and that's caused a lot of people to take two jobs and not get benefits with either of the jobs. so they're getting a reduction in pay because of this law. but here's the kicker. that doesn't help the small businessman anyway. here's how aggregation works. you've got 10 employees at 29 hours. that's 290 hours. you divide by 30. then you find out that you still have 9 2/3 employees. so by making this drastic cut, you were only able to reduce your numbers by one-third of an employee? again, that's kind of a fraudulent situation to rope people in to doing the obamacare thing. now, another way that aggregation works, according to this hearing that i went to, is that if you own a piece of one business and you own a piece of the other business but you don't own a majority of either of the emphasis -- either of the
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businesses, the two have to be combined to find out whether you have to come under obamacare or not. that's wrong. that's fraud. these things ought to be real clear. and i think that if we ever were able to get a vote on raising that part-time work up to 40 hours, i think you'd see a huge number of people that would vote for it or a huge number of people that wouldn't be around here much longer. and of course the small business administration says that a small business isn't 50 employees, a small business is 500 employees. so just by changing those two things in obamacare, we could probably have more jobs in the economy than the stimulus package ever provided. there are other changes that we could make in obamacare that would have a bigger effect than the stimulus package. oh, that's right, that's not a very high mountain to climb, is it? the other thing we ought to do is eliminate some of the regulations that have been put out there. i know of six regulations that if we got rid of them, it
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wouldn't affect our way of life but it would increase jobs and the economy more than the stimulus. we could have an increase in the economy around here but we can't do it if we keep loading up the businesses with more regulation. you know, we had a government shutdown awhile ago and i got a letter from a trucker in pinedale, wyoming. he said he was getting a little tired of all the people who were riding in the wagon and how many fewer people were pulling the wagon. and what he's referring to with that is every time we expand the government, every time we do one of these new programs and put a whole bunch more people on the payroll, heck, we got a whole bunch more just in i.r.s. people that are supposed to be checking on obamacare. if you put them in the wagon and the private sector has to pull it, there is a point where they can't pull it anymore. and what he was suggesting was that if we wanted to really find
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out about america, that the private sector ought to have a shutdown. and it wouldn't take 16 days for us to realize the effect of the private market. and that's something we've got to watch out for, because that is where the taxes come from. oh, yes, all of us in government pay taxes. none of us pay as much in taxes as we receive in wages. so we're riding in the wagon and it's getting tougher and tougher to pull. and obamacare is one of the things that really loaded the wagon up. heck, it just -- just with the regulations that they have to pull around, it's a tremendous, tremendous burden. a small businessman can't read the thousands of pages of regulations that come out, but you know what? they have to. i was able to get a review committee, if there's over a million dollars in costs, to new regulations. and that's a pretty severe
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committee. they really do a good job. i'm pleased with the people that are on it. unfortunately, again, we're missing an enforcement piece to that so that, again, the regulation disappears for small businessmen if it's going to be really detrimental. we try to do these one-size-fits-all around here. that's what obamacare is. well, that's four sizes fit all. but one-size-fits-all or four-sizes-fit-all won't take care of america. this is the most diverse country probably in the whole world, and the most successful country in the world because it is so diverse, because we have so many people doing so many different things, and it's also been one of the most invo innovative cous in the world. we want to be innovating things for the whole world and have the otr


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