Opinion: Weekly remarks: John Boehner says health costs will soar; Obama sees economy rebounding
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I’m House Republican Leader John Boehner. At the beginning of this year, I told President Obama and Speaker Nancy Pelosi that Republicans would be ready to work with them whenever possible to address the nation’s biggest challenges.
I also said that where there are differences, it was our obligation as a party to explain to the American people how we would do things better. And on the ‘stimulus,’ the budget, the energy bill and healthcare, we have done exactly that.
As a matter of fact, only Republicans have offered solutions to lower healthcare costs and make it easier to obtain quality, affordable coverage without imposing a massive burden on the American people.
We first released our healthcare plan in June, and over the last six months, we have introduced at least eight bills that, taken together, would implement this blueprint.
You can go right now to healthcare.gop.gov and get all the details, but for now, I just want to share with you four ideas Republicans have proposed:
Number 1: Let families and businesses buy health insurance across state lines.
Number 2: Allow individuals, small businesses and trade associations to pool together and acquire health insurance at lower prices, the same way large corporations and labor unions do today.
Number 3: Give states the tools to create their own innovative reforms that lower healthcare costs; and
Number 4: End junk lawsuits that contribute to higher healthcare costs by increasing the number of tests and procedures that physicians sometimes order not because they think it’s good medicine, but because they are afraid of being sued.
These are four smart, fiscally responsible reforms that we can implement today to lower costs and expand access at a price our nation can afford. Again, you can learn more about these and all the healthcare initiatives Republicans have supported by visiting healthcare.gop.gov.
The best way to get a sense of what Speaker Pelosi’s takeover of healthcare looks like is to
...actually look at it. Just shy of 2,000 pages, it runs more than 620 pages longer than the government-run plan Hillary Clinton proposed in 1993.
This 1,990 pages of bureaucracy will centralize healthcare decision-making in Washington, D.C. It’ll require thousands of new federal employees. It’ll put unelected boards, bureaus and commissions in charge of who gets access to what drug and what potentially life-saving treatment.
And it won’t come cheap. Speaker Pelosi’s healthcare bill will raise the cost of Americans’ health insurance premiums; it will kill jobs with tax hikes and new mandates; and it will cut seniors’ Medicare benefits.
We now have a choice: We can come together to implement smart, fiscally responsible reforms to improve Americans’ healthcare, or we can recklessly pursue this government takeover that creates far more problems than it solves.
It’s clear where the American people stand on this issue. They‘re frustrated and fed up. The ‘stimulus’ bill isn’t working. Unemployment is rising. The debt to be paid by our kids and grandkids is exploding. And now, Speaker Pelosi’s 1,990-page government takeover of healthcare?
Enough is enough. Breaking the bank and taking away the freedoms Americans cherish is not the answer to the challenges we face.
This coming week, Republicans will continue to stand on principle, defend freedom, and fight for our better solutions to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for American families. Thank you for listening. ###
Each week, I’ve spoken with you about the challenges we face as a nation and the path we must take to meet them. And the truth is, over the past 10 months, I’ve often had to report distressing news during what has been a difficult time for our country. But today, I am pleased to offer some better news that — while not cause for celebration — is certainly reason to believe that we are moving in the right direction.
On Thursday, we received a report on our gross domestic product, or GDP. This is an important measure of our economy as a whole, one that tells us how much we are producing and how much businesses and families are earning.
We learned that the economy grew for the first time in more than a year and faster than at any point in the previous two years. So while we have a long way to go before we return to prosperity, and there will undoubtedly be ups and downs along the road, it’s also true that we’ve come a long way. It is easy to forget that it was only several months ago that the economy was shrinking rapidly and many economists feared another Great Depression.
Now, economic growth is no substitute for job growth. And we will likely see further job losses in the coming days, a fact that is both troubling for our economy and heartbreaking for the men and women who suddenly find themselves out of work. But we will not create the jobs we need unless the economy is growing; that’s why this GDP report is a good sign. And we can see clearly now that the steps my administration is taking are making a difference, blunting the worst of this recession and helping to bring about its conclusion.
We’ve acted aggressively to jumpstart credit for families and businesses, including small businesses, which have seen an increase in lending of 73%. We’ve taken steps to stem the tide of foreclosures, modifying mortgages to help hundreds of thousands of responsible homeowners keep their homes and help millions more sustain the value in their homes.
And the Recovery Act is spurring demand through a tax cut for 95% of working families, and through assistance for seniors and those who have lost jobs — which not only helps folks hardest hit by the downturn, but also encourages the consumer spending that will help turn the economy around.
Finally, the Recovery Act is saving and creating jobs all across the country. Just this week, we reached an important milestone. Based on reports coming in from across America — as shovels break ground, as needed public servants are rehired, and as factories whir to life — it is clear that the Recovery Act has now created and saved more than 1 million jobs. That’s more than a million people who might otherwise be out of work today — folks who can wake up each day knowing that they’ll be able to provide for themselves and their families.
We’ve saved jobs by closing state budget shortfalls to prevent the layoffs of hundreds of thousands of police officers, firefighters and teachers who are today on the beat, on call and in the classroom because of the Recovery Act. And we’ve also created hundreds of thousands of jobs through the largest investment in our roads since the building of the interstate highways, and through the largest investments in education, medical research and clean energy in history.
These investments aren’t just helping us recover in the short term, they’re helping to lay a new foundation for lasting prosperity in the long term — and they’re giving hardworking, middle-class Americans the chance to succeed and raise a family.
Because of the investments we’ve made and the steps we’ve taken, it’s easier for middle-class families to send their kids to college and get the training and skills they need to compete in a global economy. We’re making it easier for these families to save for retirement. And in areas like clean energy, we’re creating the jobs of the future — jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced.
In fact, just this week, I traveled to Arcadia, Fla., to announce the largest set of clean-energy projects through the Recovery Act so far: 100 grants for businesses, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners across the country to put thousands of people to work modernizing our electric grid — the system that provides power to our homes and businesses — so that it wastes less energy, helps integrate renewables like wind and solar, and saves consumers money. And that’s just one example.
So, we have made progress. At the same time, I want to emphasize that there’s still plenty of progress to be made. For we know that positive news for the economy as a whole means little if you’ve lost your job and can’t find another, if you can’t afford healthcare or the mortgage, if you do not see in your own life the improvement we are seeing in these economic statistics.
And positive news today does not mean there won’t be difficult days ahead. As I’ve said many times, it took years to dig our way into the crisis we’ve faced. It will take more than a few months to dig our way out. But make no mistake: That’s exactly what we will do.
For the economy we seek is one where folks who need a job can find one and incomes are rising again. The economy we seek is one where small businesses can flourish and entrepreneurs can get the capital they need to plant new seeds of growth.
The economy we seek is one that’s no longer based on maxed-out credits cards, wild speculation, and the old cycles of boom or bust — but rather one that’s built on a solid foundation, supporting growth that is strong, sustained and broadly shared by middle-class families across America. That is what we are working toward every single day. And we will not stop until we get there. Thank you. And Happy Halloween. ###