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The debate in Washington this month reached a level of intensity that I have never seen. People took to the streets and to the halls of Congress to loudly declare in one united voice their strong opposition to the government takeover of health care. And, after fifteen months of ignoring the political minority and the will of the American people, the House of Representatives passed a final version of the legislation. I joined the entire Oklahoma delegation opposing this costly and flawed legislation.
While the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has scored this legislation at costing $938 billion dollars over the next ten years, it is important to understand that the full consequences this bill will have on our federal budget cannot fully be recognized at this time. Many economists believe that the true cost of this bill once it is fully implemented, could be more than $2.6 trillion by the year 2043. Our national debt is more than $12 trillion currently, and is expected to rise above $14 trillion by 2011 – making our national debt almost equal to the size of our entire economy. Spending another trillion dollars on this program is simply not feasible and will do nothing more than burden our children and grandchildren with crippling debt they may never be able to pay.
It’s not just the cost of this bill that concerns me. Its content is also very disturbing. In addition to including $528.5 billion in cuts to Medicare and $569.2 billion in tax increases, it also includes $20 billion in unfunded mandates – requirements on states to dramatically increase their contribution to their Medicaid program. Many states are already struggling through the current economic crisis and are being forced to cut much needed programs. They certainly should not be forced by the federal government to cut even more programs – or raise state taxes – in order to comply with these new federal mandates.
And as they did in the Senate with the ‘Cornhusker Kickback’ and the ‘Louisiana Purchase,’ backroom promises were made to some members in exchange for a yes vote. In a last minute effort to assuage pro-life Democrats to abandon their constituency and their core beliefs, President Obama vowed to issue an executive order that would reinforce a ban on the use of federal funds for abortions. However, an executive order cannot change statutory law, no matter how much the president may want to believe it can. The only way to truly prevent taxpayer funding of abortions is to enact a law that prevents taxpayer funding of abortions – and this health care legislation does the exact opposite.
I think we can all agree that there are problems within our health care system that need to be addressed. But this almost one trillion dollar, 2,700 page bill is, quite simply put, not the right solution. In an effort to pass a health care bill – any bill – this Congress has lost its way. The American people deserve better, and as their representatives in Congress it’s time we gave them that.