Democrats moved one step closer to passage of their $2.5 trillion government-run health care boondoggle on a straight party-line vote Saturday night, proving once again that there are no “moderate” Democrats in Washington, D.C. today.
The vote for cloture on the Motion to Proceed — which brings the House-passed health care bill to the floor as a shell to substitute Harrycare — passed 60-39. Sen. George Voinovitch (R-Ohio) was not in Washington to participate in the vote but was celebrating with his hometown gang the 30th anniversary of first being elected mayor of Cleveland. He said he would have voted against the motion. Only 60 votes in favor of cloture would move the bill to the Senate floor. Voinovitch’s vote could not have affected the outcome.
In what Hill staffers referred to as the new “Louisiana Purchase,” supposed “moderate” Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) — who claimed to be a holdout — voted in favor of Motion to Proceed due to the inclusion in the bill of what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated to be $100 million in Medicaid subsidies for “certain states recovering from a major disaster.” Under closer examination, the “certain states” were found to mean only Louisiana. Landrieu later boasted the payoff was actually over $300 million.
Which begs the question: is the CBO off by 200% on all of its scoring?
So-called “moderate” Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) said in remarks from the Senate floor Saturday, “We simply cannot ignore the growth in the federal government since the year 2000. I can assure you that the American people have not ignored it … We should be stopping the growth of government.”
Then Lincoln voted against killing outright the government takeover of one-sixth of the nation’s private economy through government-run health care. Go figure.
All Republican senators rejected the Motion to Proceed outright, honoring the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the American people. Leadership and rank and file Republican Senators alike gave impassioned floor speeches against Harrycare throughout the day.
A few highlights:
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Republican Leader:
“A vote in favor of proceeding to this bill is a vote in favor of adding to the tax burden of the American people in the midst of double-digit unemployment. A vote in favor of proceeding to this bill is a vote to raise health insurance premiums on people who were told, they were told, that they could expect their health insurance costs to go down. A vote in favor of proceeding to this bill is a vote in favor of deep cuts to Medicare for tens of millions of seniors — seniors who depend on it totally. A vote to proceed to this bill is a vote to continue the completely out-of-control spending binge congress has been on all year. A vote in favor of this bill tells every American family sitting in a waiting room tonight, wondering when they’ll get to see a doctor or how much it’s going to cost, it’s not our concern. And worst of all, a vote in favor of this bill is a vote in favor of the spending binge that’s leading to a massive and unsustainable long-term debt that will shackle our children to a future they can’t afford.
“That’s what tonight’s vote is all about. If it wasn’t, none of us would be here on a Saturday night with the nation watching and waiting to see what we do here. They’re watching because they know that none of this — none of this is inevitable. All it takes is one vote, just one. The simple math is this, if there were one Democrat, just one of our friends on the other side of the aisle — just one who would say no tonight, none of this would happen.
“The voices of the American people would be heard. We’ve seen all the surveys. We know how they feel. If just one Democrat were to say no tonight, he’d be saying no to the premium increases, no to the tax cuts, no to the Medicare cuts. Just one on the other side of the aisle. And then we could start over with a common-sense step-by-step approach to fix the problem that got us here in the first place, and that was that health care costs too much.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference:
“Every other word we hear from the other side is that this vote tonight is ‘historic.’ I agree: it’s historic, but my view of why it’s historic is a little different than theirs. This bill is historic in its arrogance — arrogance that we in Congress are wise enough to take this complex health system that is 16 percent of our economy and serves 300 million Americans and think we can write a 2,000-page bill and change it all — all at once.
“It’s arrogant to dump 15 million low-income Americans into a medical ghetto called Medicaid that none of us or any of our families would ever want to join. It’s arrogant to send to the states, which are going broke, a big chunk of the bill. It’s arrogant to tell the American people that the bill will only cost $849 billion and think they’re not smart enough to read it and figure out that it will actually cost $2.5 trillion when it’s fully implemented. It’s arrogant to say paying for the physicians’ reimbursement is not an important part of a health care bill — even as they run over here in the dead of night and run up the deficit with a separate quarter-trillion-dollar bill to fix that. It’s arrogant to cut and tax Grandma’s Medicare, which is going broke, and then spend it on somebody else. It’s arrogant to tell us that it’s going to reduce premiums for most Americans when, in fact, it increases premiums for most Americans.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee:
“Sen. Reid’s health care bill is the product of three senators meeting for weeks behind closed doors to remake America’s entire health care system. You can do a lot of nefarious things when you meet in secret, but you can’t change the rules of math — and Sen. Reid can’t make the health care numbers add up.
“The American people are serious about smart health care reform, but they recognize a shell game when they see one. When fully implemented, this $2.5 trillion bill guarantees higher taxes and more deficit spending.
“Democrats’ claims of fiscal prudence are a sham. Any legislation can technically qualify as deficit neutral if taxes are raised high enough to offset the spending. This is exactly what Democrats have done, calling for half a trillion in new taxes ranging from penalties on small businesses, fees for medical devices, and taxes on individuals who — in the government’s opinion — have too little or too much insurance.
“Rather than stabilize Medicare, which millions of Americans have paid into all their lives, the bill raids its coffers to pay for this new, untested government program. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office noted that these cuts may ‘reduce access to care or diminish the quality of care’ for our seniors. Medicare is heading toward insolvency and every effort should be made to effect savings, but it is totally unacceptable to use Medicare efficiencies to fund a huge new program that history tells us will spiral out of control.”
And Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R-S.C.) post-vote remarks:
“Some senators may have made a career-ending decision tonight. If this bill ultimately passes, voters will hold them responsible. Americans will not soon forget who voted to sell out our freedom in order to give Washington more control over our lives. The Reid-Obama health care takeover is an irredeemable disaster that cannot be fixed with a few amendments, because it is rotten to its core. Every senator that voted ‘yes’ tonight voted to support a bill that will raise insurance premiums, raise taxes, fund abortions, explode our debt, kill jobs, cut Medicare benefits and lead to government-rationed care.
“Our health care system needs reform, but we need to fix what’s broken not end what’s working. This bill isn’t reform; it’s a Trojan Horse for Democrats to enact their decades-long dream of a single-payer system that allows Washington to control every aspect of health care.
“Democrats who claim this debate is just about helping the uninsured are lying because this bill will adversely affect every single health care plan, every patient, every doctor, and every hospital in America. This bill contains a government-forced insurance scheme that, besides being unconstitutional, will require every American to have a Washington-approved health care plan or face steep penalties. Americans don’t want career politicians controlling their lives from a distant capitol.
“Americans have completely lost trust in Washington politicians who have rammed through reckless bailouts, a failed stimulus, and a Cash for Clunkers program that went broke in days. They don’t believe the rosy economic forecasts of this bill after they were promised the same with Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, which are all bankrupt. Americans know they will be forced to pay for this $2.5 trillion government takeover, and they know it will leave their children and grandchildren with crippling debt.
“I will continue to fight for real health care reform that allows Americans to choose from hundreds of health plans that they can afford, own, and keep. Americans should be able to access policies from any state, free of frivolous lawsuits, and with the same tax treatment of those who get their insurance from their employer. I hope Senators will finally listen to the American people and stop this rampage to take over health care so we can enact commonsense solutions that allow Americans to control their own health care decisions."