November 10, 2009
Last weekend the U.S. House of Representatives passed a monstrous $1 trillion dollar health care reform bill by the narrowest of margins, 220 votes for and 215 against. While the passing of the bill marked a victory for those who support a government run health care system and saddling tax payers with the burden of its cost, it is not by any means the last word, or even the most important word, in this debate. A battle was lost but the outcome of the war is still hanging in the balance. Before we talk about what is ahead, let's talk about the bill that was passed, and the votes that were cast in the House.
As it was when the Senate Finance Committee voted to move its health care reform bill out of committee, one Republican voted for the House bill. As in the Senate Finance Committee vote, the administration is claiming the House vote as a bipartisan piece of legislation. That is analogous to saying a football team that had one win in 16 games had a winning season. What hasn't been said is that 39 Democrats voted against the bill. The President and House leader Pelosi had to use all of their methods of persuasion, some nice, some not-so-nice, to get a very narrow victory on a bill that cuts our Medicare, raises our insurance premiums, vastly increases the size of our government, and hikes our taxes at multiple levels.
What's ahead? Many in the Senate have commented that the House bill is "dead on arrival" indicating that many provisions of the House bill are not acceptable and pointing to a Senate bill which, if passed, probably won't look like the House bill. If that happens then the conference committee's job of combining both bills into one could be difficult if not impossible. The important thing to remember is that this war isn't over. Our fight to preserve quality health care choices for us and our families, to protect our Medicare benefits, and to free our great country from the tax burden that will fall, not only on us but even more heavily on our children and our grand children, must not wane. If there has been one thing I've heard as I've talked with you it is the fact that our country just isn't being fiscally responsible. You've said over and over that expanding government, spending more money and increasing taxes is not the answer. President Reagan felt the same way when he said, "Government is not the solution to our problems; the government is the problem." Part of our government, the House of Representatives, has passed a bill that is estimated by the CBO to cost over one trillion dollars. What scares me is that's the ESTIMATED cost. Let's turn to history to see how well the government has estimated costs.
Our government's track record is deplorable. The only time that the estimate was better than predicted was when the private competition option was selected for Medicare Part D, much to the chagrin of those who wanted another government bureaucracy to "solve" this problem. Even when including this single estimate that came in lower, the average actual cost of these government programs historically has been over 3 times larger than the estimated cost. I think it is safe to predict that we're not talking about a $1 trillion dollar outlay; we're talking about over $3 trillion dollars. Can America afford a program of that magnitude? Should we? There are solutions that reform health care without crippling our economy, the House Republicans unveiled a bill that made a lot of sense and offered it as a substitute for the Democrats House bill. The Majority Democrats shot it down, and proceeded to pass their massive measure.
We need to continue the fight in the Senate. You have spoken through our Listen campaign and we have listened. We delivered the results to the White House and spent days on the Hill last week bringing your message to those who ultimately voted last Saturday night. We will continue to ask you how you feel and continue to send your comments, concerns and suggestions to the White House and Congress. We can make a difference, we're getting our message through, and most importantly you're letting your voice be heard. Now is the time to redouble our efforts, it is critical now to hear from you. Send me an email, fill out our survey, call, write or fax your Senators. Help support us as we get the word out. We can enact some common sense solutions to health care reform, if we continue to fight.
One last thought, regarding tomorrow, Veteran's Day 2009. We all should pause to thank the men and women who are protecting our freedoms. As an Air Force veteran, I served with pride. I stop now to remember those friends of mine who were taken in two airplane training crashes within 6 months of each other. I lost some good friends, some brave comrades in arms, and I still honor their sacrifice. We all owe a debt that can never be paid to those brave Americans in our Armed Services. They face danger every day so that we may live in a comfortable peace.