Wicker Says Democrats Ignored Public on Health Care

Report From Congress
By Senator Roger F. Wicker

Wicker Says Democrats Ignored Public on Health Care
Legislation Will Cost Jobs and Balloon Debt

Congressional Democrats under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi apparently believe they know better than the overwhelming majority of Americans when it comes to health care. On March 21, House Democrats passed a massive health care bill, which will place our nation’s health system under the control of the federal government. Nearly 60 percent of Americans oppose this health care bill, including the half trillion dollars in Medicare cuts, federally-subsidized abortion, and the higher premiums and taxes we will all see under the new law. Some of those who helped pass the bill claimed that they rose above politics. I believe Democrats rose above public opinion.

Historically Harmful Bill
House Democrats are calling the health care vote “historic,” and in several unfortunate ways, it is. Speaker Pelosi boasted from the House floor that Congress “will be joining those who established Social Security [and] Medicare.” What the Speaker failed to mention is that the health care bill is the first major social initiative in our nation’s history that was passed on a purely partisan basis. Two-hundred nineteen Democrats voted for the bill, but 34 Democrats and all 178 Republicans stood firm in opposition. That vote is in sharp contrast with votes on the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and those creating Medicare and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, all of which passed Congress with broad bipartisan support.

The historically bad bill also will lead to the largest tax increase ever, burdening American families and small businesses with almost a half trillion dollars in new taxes, fees, and penalties. The Internal Revenue Service will have to hire more than 16,000 new agents at a cost of $10 billion just to enforce the law.

While Democrats proclaim their “historic victory,” many others believe this is a disastrous moment for the American people. “Disgraceful and dysfunctional” is how Dr. Edward Hill, a Mississippi physician and former president of American Medical Association, described the health care bill. Dr. Randy Easterling, president of the Mississippi State Medical Association called the bill “a huge step in the wrong direction.” I am hearing similar statements from thousands of Mississippians who are contacting me from every corner of the state to voice their outrage. They want to know how we can continue to fight the government takeover of American health care.

Court Challenges to Constitutionality
On March 23, the President signed the legislation, making it the law of the land. Last week, the Senate took up a measure which Democrats touted would “fix” some provisions in the law. However, this package, considered under the reconciliation fast-track process, would simply add more spending, more taxes, and more Medicare cuts to the health care package. The reconciliation bill also includes a government takeover of the student loan system. This ill-advised provision would result in students being overcharged for their federal loans to help pay for the Democrats’ new health care plan. Additionally, because it eliminates the current student lending system, thousands of jobs in the student loan industry would be lost. Unfortunately, the legislation was sent to the president to be signed into law.

Senators and Representatives are not alone in the fight. Elected officials across the nation, including our own Governor Haley Barbour, are looking for ways to protect Americans from the bad ideas and mandates the law imposes. Governor Barbour has urged Attorney General Jim Hood to file a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality. I appreciate Governor Barbour’s leadership in these efforts. Several state attorneys general have already begun an effort related to the new “individual mandate.” Many argue that this provision, which requires all Americans to purchase insurance coverage or face a financial penalty, is unconstitutional. This battle will play out in our federal court system over the coming months and years.

Repeal and Replace
I have sponsored a bill to fully repeal the health care law. Congress should take the law off the books and replace it with the sensible and less costly alternatives put forward during the health care debate that could gain bipartisan support and not result in job loss. The House and Senate would need super-majorities to override a guaranteed veto by President Obama – and much depends on who is elected to Congress this fall.