Opinion: Weekly remarks: GOP’s Kevin Brady and Obama on jobs, deficit and healthcare myths
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Hi, I’m Congressman Kevin Brady. I’m proud to represent southeast Texas in Congress, and serve as the lead House Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, which keeps tabs on America’s economic health.
There are three big myths hurtling around Washington these days: no jobs equals an economic recovery, government-run health care will make it more affordable and deficits don’t matter.
The American public – to their credit – isn’t buying any of these.
Start with the economy. We’re all pleased to see the stock market go up, but middle class America knows hundreds of thousands of jobs are disappearing each month. Many of them may never reappear.
As families in my communities and across the country watch the national unemployment....
...rate close to topping double digits -- with very few real signs of relief ahead -- they have one question for the White House: ‘Mr. President, where are the jobs?’
Last January, the White House promised us all that if Congress passed the massive trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ bill, jobs would be created immediately and the unemployment rate would stay under eight percent.
Well, since then, nearly 3 million more Americans have lost their private sector jobs. Over 2 million have simply quit looking for work because they are so discouraged. And that’s frightening. And over 9 million Americans are working part time because they can’t find a full time job. And those who do worry if they’ll be the next person standing in the unemployment line.
The truth is: no jobs, no recovery. Let’s finally admit America’s recovery can’t be built on the unsteady Democratic doctrine of spending more, borrowing more and higher taxes. It’s failing our families.
The second myth, that government-run health care will make it more affordable? Americans inherently know government interference drives costs up, not down. The massive health care plans being crafted behind closed doors in Washington will ultimately allow the government to decide what doctors we can see, what treatments the government thinks you deserve and what medicines you can receive.
The Democrats’ plans are loaded with new federal mandates and higher taxes on insurance plans, treatments and equipment – all of which will be passed down to patients. New taxes on professionals and small businesses will drive jobs out of our economy and push more families into a government-run plan.
At a time when families and workers want more choices and more options, Democrats in Washington are bent on creating a one-size fits all plan that Americans can just take or leave. By the way, these same Democratic members of Congress are making sure they and their families aren’t included in the plan. That should tell you something.
The third myth: deficits don’t matter? Tell that to your kids and grandkids and see what they have to say thirty years down the road.
Whether it’s wasteful stimulus spending, a cap-and-trade national energy tax that will put millions more out of work, or the trillion dollar health care experiment, congressional Democrats in Washington are boring new holes in our economic ship at a time when employers throughout America need a life preserver to help them stay afloat.
Liberal policies that will keep people out of work longer will only make the deficit worse. Americans know that deficits matter to our dollar, to our economy, to our future.
The federal budget deficit tripled to a record 1.4 trillion dollars this year. The government spent 199 billion dollars on interest alone -- or almost 10 times the entire budget for NASA.
Under the Obama Administration’s budget, our country is set to rack up 6.7 trillion dollars in debt over the next decade -- almost equal to all the federal debt accumulated in our nation’s history.
Democrats in Washington continue to pursue costly policies that tax too much, spend too much and borrow too much, all of which are discouraging small businesses from job creation and innovation while launching our national debt into the stratosphere.
Make no mistake, our children and grandchildren will end up buried under a mountain of debt if we continue down this dangerous path of taxing, spending and borrowing.
Let’s set aside the myths. Let’s get real.
Real economic growth starts when the people who have taken the hardest hit in this recession -- our small businesses -- get back to creating jobs. It’s what these businesses that employ more than half our nation’s workforce do best. Republicans want to give them new tax relief tools and get out of their way.
Republicans remain hopeful that this deep and painful recession will soon run its course, but Americans deserve better than a jobless recovery, which is no real recovery at all for American workers and families. Americans deserve affordable health care. And they deserve a nation that can pay its debt and live within its means.
That’s what Republicans believe. That’s what will create the jobs that will grow our economy and put our nation back on the path to long-term prosperity. This is Congressman Kevin Brady. Thanks for listening. ###
Over the better part of the past year, a great debate has taken place in Washington and across America, about how to reform our health care system to provide security for people with insurance, coverage for those without insurance, and lower costs for everyone.
From the halls of Congress to the homes of ordinary Americans, this debate has helped us to forge consensus and find common ground. That’s a good thing. That’s what America is all about.
Now, as the debate draws to a close, we can point to a broad and growing coalition of doctors and nurses, workers and businesses, hospitals and even drug companies – folks who represent different parties and perspectives, including leading Democrats and many leading Republicans – who recognize the urgency of action.
Just this week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a reform proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support. For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation. As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history.
But this is not the time to pat ourselves on the back. This is not the time to grow complacent. There are still significant details and disagreements to be worked out in the coming weeks. And there are still those who would try to kill reform at any cost. The history is clear: for decades rising health care costs have unleashed havoc on families, businesses, and the economy. And for decades, whenever we have tried to reform the system, the insurance companies have done everything in their considerable power to stop us.
We know that this inaction has carried a terrible toll. In the past decade, premiums have doubled. Over the past few years, total out of pocket costs for people with insurance rose by a third. And we know that if we do not reform the system, this will only be a preview of coming attractions.
A new report for the Business Roundtable – a non-partisan group that represents the CEOs of major companies – found that without significant reform, health care costs for these employers and their employees will well more than double again over the next decade.
The cost per person for health insurance will rise by almost $18,000. That’s a huge amount of money. That’s going to mean lower salaries and higher unemployment, lower profits and higher rolls of uninsured. It is no exaggeration to say, that unless we act, these costs will devastate the US economy.
This is the unsustainable path we’re on, and it’s the path the insurers want to keep us on. In fact, the insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking open their massive war chest – to marshal their forces for one last fight to save the status quo. They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people.
Of course, like clockwork, we’ve seen folks on cable television who know better, waving these industry-funded studies in the air. We’ve seen industry insiders – and their apologists – citing these studies as proof of claims that just aren’t true. They’ll claim that premiums will go up under reform; but they know that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that reforms will lower premiums in a new insurance exchange while offering consumer protections that will limit out-of-pocket costs and prevent discrimination based on pre-existing conditions.
They’ll claim that you’ll have to pay more out of pocket; but they know that this is based on a study that willfully ignores whole sections of the bill, including tax credits and cost savings that will greatly benefit middle class families. Even the authors of one of these studies have now admitted publicly that the insurance companies actually asked them to do an incomplete job.
It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” Well, not this time.
The fact is, the insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits, bonuses, and administrative costs that do nothing to make us healthy – that often actually go toward figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.
Now, I welcome a good debate. I welcome the chance to defend our proposals and to test our ideas in the fires of this democracy. But what I will not abide are those who would bend the truth – or break it – to score political points and stop our progress as a country. And what we all must oppose are the same old cynical Washington games that have been played for decades even as our problems have grown and our challenges have mounted.
Last November, the American people went to the polls in historic numbers and demanded change. They wanted a change in our policies; but they also sought a change in our politics: a politics that too often has fallen prey to the lobbyists and the special interests; that has fostered division and sustained the status quo. Passing health insurance reform is a great test of this proposition.
Yes, it will make a profound and positive difference in the lives of the American people. But it also now represents something more: whether or not we as a nation are capable of tackling our toughest challenges, if we can serve the national interest despite the unrelenting efforts of the special interests; if we can still do big things in America.
I believe we can. I believe we will. And I urge every member of Congress to stand against the power plays and political ploys – and to stand up on behalf the American people who sent us to Washington to do their business. Thank you. ###