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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  December 11, 2009 5:00pm-6:54pm EST

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like president superiors, i'm as confident that he will succeed at anything he attempts and he demonstrates the courage and commitment that we recognize in him. his humility belies his dedicated service to our nation, provides great comfort knowing that hundreds of marines will have the opportunity to work and live and learn and serve with first sergeant simmons. he's a testament to the marines, to our nation, to his family, to his home state of kansas. and to karen his wife, thank you for your support and sacrifice while your husband serves this nation, i enjoyed meeting you. i know that first sergeant simmons can do what he does because of your love and support. thank you, first sergeant bradley simmons, for your distinguished service to the people of ohio and for your continued commitment to protecting our nation and the prosperity of all americans. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. lemieux: thank you, mr. president. it's always good to follow my colleague from ohio. i want to speak today about the health care bill, and i
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specifically, mr. president, want to speak about this new report that we received from the office of the actuary from the centers for medicaid and medicare services. and this report, mr. president, unfortunately confirms many of the problems that we already knew. but now this report comes from an independent actuary who works in the very agencies that have to implement our federal health care programs. and this actuary has reviewed the proposal that is before us, the proposal that is intended to be health care reform. and the review and report of this actuary shows the significant problems with this proposal and why we must start over and take a step-by-step approach. the first thing that this report goes through -- and i had the opportunity, mr. president, to read this report this afternoon in my office word for word and go through it line by line. and i hope that all of my colleagues do, on both sides of the aisle, because there is many troubling things that this
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report shines light upon. first of all, the proposal that we're debating increases the cost of health care. now for americans who are at home and might be watching this or turning in to c-span to see various senators on the floor of this great body, they think that the reason we are here is to reduce the cost of health care and to promote more access for health care. those are the two big goals. that's what the president told us. we are going to lower the cost of health care for americans. this report shows that national health care expenditures are going to go up from 16% of the gross domestic product to 20%. the chief actuary says on page 4 of this report that we're going to spend $234 billion more on health care over the next ten years. we're going to spend more on health care. we're not going to reduce costs.
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we're going to increase costs. moreover, the federal government in its provision of health care is going to spend -- and this is also on page 4, $366 billion more in health care provisions. now, we are told that this proposal is budget-neutral or that it actually creates a less of a deficit. it cuts the deficit of the federal budget. but we know, and this has come out this week, that this is just gimmickry, because the taxes start before the benefits. for four years we pay the taxes, and then the benefits don't start until 2014. so four years of penalties without any benefits. and this is like if you were to go buy a home and you went to go buy the home and you said, okay, we're going to live here for the next ten years, and the real estate agent said to you, well, that's fine. you're just going to pay for the
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first four years, but you don't get to move in until 2014. now staepls sitting around their -- now families sitting around their kitchen tables, that's not how they balance their budgets, but that's this strange world that washington is, that you can set up this budget gimmickry in order to get it to so-called budget-neutral. and the actuary of c.m.s. recognizes that. he says on page 2 of this report, "most of the coverage provisions would be in effect for only six of the ten years of the budget period. the cost the estimates shown in this memorandum do not represent a full ten-year cost of the proposed legislation." it's not budget-neutral. it's just a gimmick. the second problem that the actuary points to is that it jeopardizes access to care for seniors. now, my colleagues have been saying this for the past couple of weeks. you can't take a half a trillion
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dollars out of medicare and have it not hurt the provision of health care for our seniors. this plan is going to gut medicare as we know it. it severely cuts funding for medicare. and in this bill, it goes through all of the cuts to medicare advantage to, home health, to the hospices. the actuary goes through all of these cuts. and what does the actuary conclude is going to be the result? our friends on the other side of the aisle say this is not going to cut medicare. it's going to save medicare. well, how do you take a half a trillion dollars out and save medicare? the actuary understands it because he knows doctors that provide services under medicare for seniors or for the poor under medicaid aren't going to take these reimbursements anymore. they're not going to see people and provide health care. so it's not health care reform if the doctor won't see you. right now in this country, 24%
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of doctors aren't taking medicare. 40% aren't taking medicaid. and the actuary says that providers for whom medicare constitutes a substantive portion of their business could find it difficult to remain profitable and might end their participation in the program, possibly jeopardizing access to care for beneficiaries. so the second reason we're doing health care reform -- access to care -- is going to be hurt for seniors by this bill. and that's on page 9, for those of you who are following at home. by the way, we're going to put this report on our web site at if you want to read it, you can read all the details of it. the next thing that the actuary discovers with the problem of this bill that for the 170 million, 180 million americans who have health insurance, your premiums are going to go up. not down. we're not going to bend the cost curve down.
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health care is going to be more expensive for you, more expensive than if we were to do nothing and not complement this bill at -- not implement this bill at all. the chief actuary says premiums for the government-run plan, for example, would be 4% higher than for private insurers. so we don't achieve that goal. now what's going to happen when we put all this burden on businesses? because we know that under this program that we are going to penalize businesses if they don't provide health insurance. we're going to penalize individuals if they don't provide health insurance. so what are small businesses going to do who are hardly making it now? in my home state of florida we have 11% unemployment, mr. president. our small businesses are suffering. the actuary says on page 7, "some small employers would be inclined to terminate their existing coverage." so they're going to drop their health insurance. you're an employee in a small business, they drop your health
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insurance. now you must go buy the federal program where you're going to be subsidized. what does subsidized mean? it means that every man and woman in this country is paying taxes to help pay for that health care insurance, taxes we can't afford, spending we can't afford. not in a world where we have a $12 trillion budget deficit. so we're just pushing the cost off on our children and our grandchildren. and that's when the deficit is going to come home to roost. the actuary also says the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health insurance is going to cause employers to scale back coverage. so if you have one of these better health care plans, the cadillac plans, your employer is now going to be incentivized to give you less coverage, less benefits, less access. is that what we thought reform was supposed to be? now we also know from the actuary we're going to raise taxes in this bill.
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as my friend, the senator from arizona, was just saying, we're going to tax device makers, we're going to tax pharmaceutical companies, the implements and devices that save our life, the medicines that save our life. and we know there are $64 billion of penalties in this bill. the actuary says on page 5 if you're a small business or you're an individual and you don't provide the insurance, you're going to be packed. you're going -- you're going to be taxed. you're going to be penalized $64 billion in penalties. the actuary says we anticipate such fees would generally be passed to health consumers. this is the taxes on the devices and the drugs -- in the form of higher prices and higher insurance premiums. mr. president, i also want to address one point here before i conclude. my friends on the other side of the aisle have been saying, look, they're not going to be any -- there are not going to be cuts to benefits because we're going to run a more efficient
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system. there's going to be less fraud, abuse and waste. we all want that. that makes a lot of sense. but the actuary in evaluating this, and he talks about this on page 12, he finds that the cuts and the reductions in here are negligible. in fact, he can't even sufficiently provide evidence to know what the estimates of the savings might be, at best $2.3 billion for all of the efficiencies and savings. now remember, this is a $2.5 trillion program, and there's $2.3 billion in savings. like 1%. so it's not the efficiencies that are going to make up the cuts. it's going to be a cut in benefits to our seniors. it's going to be higher insurance premiums for americans. that's not health care reform. it's why the "wall street journal" called this bill the worst bill ever. and in talking about this new proposal to expand medicare and
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drop the aid from medicaid, this morning in the "wall street journal" kind of corrected itself and said that's even worse than the worst bill ever. mr. president, like you, i'm new to this chamber. i've been here about 90 days, and it's a great honor to serve in the united states senate and represent 18 million people in florida. but it's also a little bit frustrating, because the way that the senate works is not the real world. it's not like moms and dads who sit around the kitchen table and try to figure out how to make ends meet and only can spend as much money as they take in. that's not how we work in this institution. we don't work in a reasonable way. my colleague, the senior senator from utah, is going to speak in a minute, and he eloquently was on the floor the other night talking about when you do real reform, you get 80 senators to vote on a proposal. if this bill passes, 60 democrats will vote for it, 40 republicans won't. and if just one democrat would
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feel their conscience and not vote for this bill, we could start over, we could work together in a bipartisan way and help those 45 million americans who don't have health insurance. but we wouldn't do it by robbing from medicare. we wouldn't do it by raising taxes. we wouldn't do it by creating a $2.5 trillion new program. so, mr. president, i have struggled to try to figure out a way to try to explain to the american people how bad this bill is because i know it's hard. you're sitting at home in your living rooms, around the kitchen table trying to understand what washington's up to and it's hard to understand it. so i've thought about cultural references and historical references and maybe even things in pop culture that i could use as an analogy to try to help explain what's going on here in the united states senate. and the only thing i can think of is the wizard of oz, because in the wizard of oz, dorothy gets thrown up in that tornado
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into a place that doesn't play by the rules, doesn't make any sense that's sort of the united states congress. dorothy and the lion and the tin man and the scarecrow, they're told follow the yellow brick road, you'll get there. all your answers will be solved, everything will be great. that's sort of like this phrase we hear around here, make history, make history. just get it done, make history. pay no attention to the cuts in medicare, pay no attention to the higher taxes and the higher premiums that people are going to have to suffer under. and like the tin man -- excuse me -- like the scarecrow who doesn't have a brain, it's not very thoughtful to put more expenses and more taxes on the states with medicaid who can't afford it. like the tin man who doesn't have a heart, it's not very thoughtful, it's not very good to take money out of health care for seniors. and like the lion who has no
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courage, we don't have the courage to do what's right and work together in a bipartisan way. because when you get to the end of the yellow brick road and you get to oz, you find out at the end of the movie there's nothing behind the curtain. this isn't health care reform. we need to start over, mr. president, and we need to get it right. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i rise today -- i appreciate the remarks of my distinguished colleague from florida. i think people really need to listen to him. and i'm grateful to have him in the senate, what a fine man he is and a good example to all of us. and i appreciated his remarks. i rise today to explain why i believe that the reid health care bill is not only bad policy for this country, but also undermines the constitution and the liberty it makes possible. i urge my colleagues to resist
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two errors that can distort our judgment and lead us down the wrong path. those errors are assuming that the constitution allows whatever we want tpo do -- whatever we want to do and ignoring this question altogether. we have only the power the constitution grants us because liberty requires limits on government power, and we have our own responsibility to make sure that we stay within those limits. james madison said that if men were angels, no government would be necessary. if angels were to govern men, no limits on government would be necessary because neither men nor the governments they create are angelic, governments limit on govments are both necessary to protect not just liberty but limits on government as well. these limits come primarily from a written constitution which delegates enumerated powers to the federal government. here is how the supreme court put it just a few years ago:
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this is in the united states v. morrison in 2000. quoting marbury v. madison, one of the most important decisions every by the supreme court, probably "the" single most important decision back in 1803. quote -- "every law enacted by congress must be based on one or more of its powers unumerated in the constitution. 'the powers of the legislature are defined and limits; and that those limits may not be mistaken or forgotten, the constitution is written'." unquote. the important words there happen to be limits. no one likes limits, least you will all politicians with grand plans and aggressive agendas. it is tempting to ignore or forget the limits that the constitution imposes on us by pretending that the constitution means whatever we want it to mean. but we take an edge to support and defend the constitution, not to make the constitution support
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and defend us. the constitution cannot limit government if government controls the constitution. in april 1992 during a debate on welfare reform legislation, the senior senator from new york, senator moynihan, with whom i served, made a point of order that an amendment offered by a republican senator was unconstitutional. here is what senator moynihan said: "we do not take an oath to balance the budget, and we do not take an oath to bring about universal peace. but we do take an oath to protect and defend the constitution of the united states." now, applying that sage advice today, we do not take an oath to reform the health care system beeorto bring about universal coverage but we do take an oath to defend and protect the constitution of the united states. for the past eight years my friends on other side of the aisle insisted that the constitution sets limits that the president must obey. the constitution, they said, does not mean whatever the president wants it to mean.
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compelling circumstances or even national crises, they said, cannot change the fact that the constitution controls the president, not the other way around. it is easy to insist that the constitution controls another branch of government than the constitution does not mean whatever another branch of government wants it to mean. the real test our commitment to liberty, however, is our willingness to to point that same finger at ourselves. i ask my colleagues, is the constitution rock solid, unchanging, and supreme for the executive branch but malleable, shape-shifting in the eye of the beholder for the legislative branch? a principle applied only to others is just politics and politics alone cannot protect liberty. we must be willing to say that there are lines we may not cross. it means we may not use and -- means we may not use and steps we may not take. the constitution empowers
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congress to do many things for the american people. just as important, however, is that the constitution also sets limits on our power. we cannot take the power without the limits. i want to address several constitutional issues raised by this legislation. the first is the requirement in section 1501 that individuals obtain not simply health insurance but a certain level of insurance. failure to meet this requirement results in a financial penalty, which is to be assessed and collected through the internal revenue code. we hear a lot about how senators on the other side of the aisle are supposedly defending the big, evil -- on this side of the aisle, excuse me, are supposedly defending the big, evil insurance companies while those on the other side of the aisle are defenders of the american families. this insurance mandate exposes such partisan hypocrisy. let me just ask one simple
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question. who would benefit the most from the unprecedented mandate to purchase insurance or face a penalty enforced by our friends at the internal revenue service? the answer is simple. there are two clear winners. under this draconian policy -- and neither is the american family. the first winner is the federal government which could easily use this authority to increase the penalty or impose similar ones to create new streams of revenue to find more out-of out-of-control spending. second, the insurance companies are the most direct winners under the -- under this insurance mandate because it would force millions of americans who would not otherwise do so to become new musters can. i cannot think of a bigger windfall for corporations than the federal government ordering americans to buy their products. right now states are responsible for determining the policies that best meet the particular
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demographic needs and challenges of their own residents. that is the stance states. massachusetts has decided to implement a health insurance mandate while utah has decided not to do so. this bill would eliminate the state flexibility so that the federal government may impose yet another one-size-fits-all mandate on all 50 states and on every american. i cannot think of anything more at odds with the system of federalism than america's founders established, a system designed to limit government and protect liberty. i can understand why this mandate is so attractive to those who believe in an all-powerful federal government. after all, raising the percentage of those with health insurance is easy by simply ordering those without insurance to buy it. while government may choose the ends, the constitution determines the permissible means. that is why one of the basic principles is that congress must
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identify at least one of our powers enumerated in the constitution as the basis for any legislation that we ultimately pass. the health insurance mandate is separate from the penalty used to enforce it. the only enumerated power that can conceivably justify the mandate is the power to regulate interstate commerce. for more than a century, the supreme court treated this as meaning what it says. congress cannot use its power to regulate commerce in order to regulate something that is not commerce. congress cannot use this power to regulate interstate commerce in order to regulate intrastate commerce. in a classic judicial understatement, the supreme court has said that -- quote -- "our understanding of the reach of the commerce clause has evolved over time" -- unquote. init has. since the 1930's, the supreme court has expanded the power to
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regulate interstate commerce to include regulating activities that substantially affect interstate commerce. that is obviously far beyond by orders of magnitude what the commerce power was intended to mean, but that is where things stand today, and some say it justifies this health insurance mandate in this bill. using the constitution or even the supreme court's revision of the constitution as a guide requires more than a good intention fueled by an active imagination. the supreme court has certainly exspandexpanded the categories t congress may regulate but every one of its cases has involved congress seeking to regulate just that: activities in which people have chosen to engage. even the supreme court has never abandoned that category altogether and has allowed congress -- or allowed congress
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instead to require that individuals engage in activities. in this case, by purchasing a particular good or service. the court has never done that. let me mention just three of the supreme court's commerce clause cases. in its very first case, gibbons v. ogden in 1824, thomas gibbons had received a federal license to operate a steamboat tbeen ne newsteambetween -- a st between new jersey and new york state and wanted to compete with mr. ogden. in the winter of 1942 he grew more wheat than allowed under the agriculture adjustment act and challenged the resulting fine. in hodel v. reclam mangesation
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and surfan, companies challenged surface coal mining. these cases have two things this common. the supreme court upheld federal authority in each case but each case involved an activity. remember the word "activity." in which individuals chose to engage. there would have been no give bonus v. ogden if he had not chosen to operate a steamboat. congress could regulate his activity but could not have required that he engage in it. there would have been no wicker v. filburn, if roscoe filburn had not chosen to grow wheat. congress could regulate his activity, but not have required that he engage in it. and there would have been no hodel case if companies had not chosen to mine coal. congress could regulate their
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activity but could not have required that they engage in it. the key word in the commerce clause is the word "regulate" and the key word in every supreme court case about the commerce clause is the word "activity." regulating an activity in which individuals choose to engage is one thing. requiring that they engage in that activity is another. the congressional budget office examined the 1994 health care reform legislation which also included a mandate to purchase health insurance. here is the c.b.o.'s -- the congressional budget office's -- conclusion. quote -- this is august 1994, congressional budget office. quote -- "a mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action. the government has never required people to buy a particular good or service.
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... federal mandates typically apply to people as parties to economic transactions, rather than members of society." that's pretty important language. in other words, congress can regulate commerce activities in which people choose to engage but cannot require that they engage in those commercial activities. just a few months ago, as congress once again was considering a health insurance mandate, the congressional research service examined the same issue. now here's what the congressional research service concluded. this was in july of 2009. the c.r.s. concluded -- quote -- "whether such a requirement to have health insurance would be constitutional under the commerce clause is perhaps the most challenging question posed by such a proposal, as it is a
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novel issue whether congress may use this clause to require an individual to purchase a good or service." and congress used this clause to require -- can congress use this clause to require an individual to purchase a good or service? one thing did change in the legal landscape between 1994 when c.b.o. called the health insurance mangedhealthinsurance. the supreme court twice found that there are limits to what congress may do in the name of regulating interstate commerce. imawf in united states v. lopez, the court rejected a version of the commerce power that would make it hard -- quote -- "to posit any individual by an activity that congress is without power 30 regulate." if ther there is no difference between regulating and requiring what people do, if there is no difference between incentives and mandates, if congressmen require that individuals indivie
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that individuals purchase a particular good or service, why did we even bother with the cash for clunkers program? why did we bother with other bailouts in we could require that americans buy certain cars or services or deposit their paychecks in certain banks. for that matter, adak the obesity -- we could attack the obesity problem by requiring americans to eat fruits and vegetables. some say because state governments may require descriefers to buy car insurance, the federal government may require that everyone purchase health insurance. that's too simplistic, that ampleght simple snraiting that point should be enough to refute it. states may do many things that the federal government may not if you do not drive a car, you do not have to buy car insurance. this legislation would require individuals to have health insurance simply because they exist. even if they never see a doctor for the rest of their lives. the defenders of this health insurance mandate must know that
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they are on shaky constitutional ground. the bill before us now includes findings which attempt to connect the mandate to the constitution. i assume that they are the best arguments that this unprecedented and novel mandate is constitutional. these findings fail in at least four ways. first, the findings say that the requirement to purchase health insurance will add millions of new consumers to the health insurance market. i cannot dispute the observation that requiring more people to purchase health insurance will result in more people having health insurance. i think that seems quite self-evident. but the question is not the effect of the mandate, but the authority for the mandate. liberty requires that the end cannot justify the means. the findings also fail to establish that the insurance mandate is constitutional by failing to offer a single
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example, a single precedent, a single case in which congress has required individuals to purchase a particular good or service or the courts have upheld such a requirement. the cases i described are typical and similar examples are legion. everyone involves -- every one of those cases i cited involves the regulations of activity in which individuals choose to engage. requiring that the individual engage in such activity is a difference not in degree but in kind. the findings also failed to answer the question by observing that states such as massachusetts have required that individuals purchase health insurance. as i noted regarding the example of car insurance, our federal-state system allows states to do many things that the federal government may not. that is one of those limits on the federal government that is necessary to protect liberty.
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and the findings fail to answer the question by mistakenly focusing on whether congress may regulate the sale of insurance. that misses the point in two respects. simply because congress may regulate the sale of health insurance does not mean that the congress may require it. and simply because congress may regulate the sale of health insurance does not mean that congress may regulate the purchase of health insurance. this legislation requires you to believe that nonactivity is the same as activity, that choosing not to do something is the same as choosing to do it, that regulating what individuals do is the same as requiring them to do it. that notion makes no common sense and it certainly makes no constitutional sense. if congress can require individuals to spend their own money on a particular good or service simply because congress thinks that it's important, then
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the constitution means whatever congress says it means, and there are and will be no limits to the federal government's power over each and every one of our lives. that version of federal power would be exactly what the supreme court in lopez prohibited, namely that there would be no activity by individuals that the federal government may not control. neither the power to regulate interstate commerce granted by the constitution nor the power to regulate activities that substantially affect interstate commerce granted by the supreme court go that far. they don't go that far. the american people agree. a national poll conducted last month found that 75% of americans believe that requiring them to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional because congress' power to regulate commerce does not include telling americans what
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they must buy. by a margin of more than 7-1, americans believe that elected officials should be more concerned with upholding the constitution, regardless of what might be pop larry, than enacting legislation even if it is not constitutional. some defenders of this legislation, such as the house majority leader, have said that congress may require individuals to purchase health insurance because it can pass legislation to promote the general welfare. the only thing necessary to dismiss this argument is read the constitution. read it in the constitution. that dismisses this argument. just read it. read the constitution. article 1 refers to general welfare as a purpose, not as a power. and it is a purpose that limits rather than expands congress' power to tax and to spend.
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the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance is not an exercise of either the power to tax or the power to spend. and so even the purpose of general welfare is not connected to it at all. needless to say, it makes no sense to include in a written constitution designed to limit federal government power an open-ended, catch-all provision, empowering congress to do anything it thinks serves the general welfare. if america's founders wanted to create a federal government with that much power, they could have written a much shorter constitution, one that simply told congress to go forth and legislate well. that's what they could have done. they didn't do that, thank goodness. the heritage foundation has just published an important paper arguing that this health insurance mandate is both unprecedented and unconstitutional. it is authored by professor randy bar net, the mccormack
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water house professor of legal theory at the georgetown university law center. nathaniel stewart, an attorney with white and case, and todd gasiano, of the legal and judicial studies at the heritage foundation. i ask consent to place this paper into the record at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: i also want to share with my colleagues a letter i received from dr. michael adams and an attorney carol robertson. they are on the faculty of the barbara jordan-mickey leland school of public affairs at texas university. mr. robertson was named in 2000 to the list of 100 to watch. i ask consent that their entire letter, which is dated october october 25, 2009, be placed in the record following my remarks.
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the presiding officer: without objection. mr. hatch: let me share here just an excerpt from these two people, and this is -- or from from -- an excerpt by dr. michael adams, ph.d., and carroll g. robinson, esquire, and barbara jordan from the mickey leland school of public affairs, texas southern university. "our reading of the constitution and supreme court precedent could not identify any reasonable basis, expressed or implied, for granting congress the broad, sweeping and unprecedented power that is represented by the individual mandate requirement. in fact, we could not find any court decision, state or federal, that said or implied that the constitution gave congress the power to mandate citizens to buy a particular good or service or be subject to a financial penalty levied by the government for not doing so."
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that's -- that's pretty impressive stuff. it is certainly possible to achieve the goal of greater health insurance coverage by constitutional means, not unconstitutional means. i am quite certain, however, that those means are politically impossible. liberty requires that the constitution trump politics, but in the legislation before us, politics trumps the constitution. another provision in this legislation sthas inconsistent with the constitution is section 9001, which imposes an excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored insurance plans differently in some states than in others. the legislation imposes a tax equal to 40% of benefits above a prescribed limit but raises that limit in 17 states to be determined by the secretaries of the treasury and health and
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human services. my colleague from ohio, senator brown, spoke against this provision on policy grounds just a few minutes ago. the constitution allows congress to impose excise taxes but requires that they be, quote "uniform throughout the united states." unquote. this is one of those provisions that will be dismissed with pejorative labels such as archaic by those who find it annoying. it is right there in the same constitution that we have all sworn to uphold. we've all sworn that same oath to protect and defend, and we are just as bound today to obey it. and, frankly, a good test of our commitment to the constitution is when we must obey a provision that limits what we want to do. the supreme court has had relatively few opportunities to interpret and apply the uniformity clause.
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its cases do provide some basic principles which i think easily apply to the legislation before us today. the court has held, for example, that a federal excise tax must be aplied, quote -- "with the same force and effect in every place where the subject of it is found." unquote. the congress has wide latitude in determining what to tax and may tailor a regional solution to a geographically isolated problem. but laws drawn explicitly in terms of state lines will receive heightened scrutiny. but the plain terms of the legislation -- by the plain terms of the legislation before us, insurance plans providing a certain level of benefits in one state will be taxed while the very same plans providing the very same benefits in another will not be taxed. we do not yet know which states will be treated differently, but we do know that, according to
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this bill, that 17 of them will. that actually makes the constitutional point more clearly by identifying the state-based discrimination more starkly. congress may decide to tax insurance plans with benefits that exceed a particular limit, but the tax must have the same force and effect wherever that subject of the tax is found. that is the clear meaning of the constitutional provision and the clear holding of supreme court precedence. taxing the same insurance plans differently in one state than in another is the opposite of taxing them uniformly throughout the united states. i commend my colleagues the work of professor thomas colby of the george washington university law school whose comprehensive work on the uniformity clause was published in volume 91 of the virginia law review. i asked the congressional research service to look at this
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uniformity clause issue. its report confirmed that this differential tax on high-cost insurance plans is drawn explicitly along state lines and that a court will more closely scrutinize the reasons for the state-based distinction. it also concluded the congress has not articulated any justification for singling out certain states for different treatment. i have raised this issue over and over throughout the process of developing and considering this legislation. i serve on both of the senate committees that are involved in this process. in fact, i think i can say i've served on three. not only the "help" committee, the health, education, labor and pensions committee, but also the finance committee, but also the judiciary committee. that for some reason has some great interest in the constitution. i have never heard any justification for singling out certain states for different tax
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treatment. the attitude seems to be that this is what the majority wants to do, and so they're going to do it no matter what the constitution says. that may be politically possible, but that does not make it constitutionally permissible. other legal analysts and scholars who are examining this health care takeover legislation are raising additional constitutional objections. professor richard epstein of the university of chicago school of law, for example, focuses on provisions that restrict insurance providers' ability to make their own risk-adjusted decisions about coverage and premiums. he argues that these restrictions amount to a taking of private property without just compensation in violation of the fifth amendment. others have observed that the legislation requires states to establish health benefit exchanges. it does not ask, cajole, encourage, or even bribe them.
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it simply orders state legislatures to pass legislation creating these health benefit exchanges and says that if states do not do so, the secretary of health and human services will establish the exchanges for them. how thoughtful. but as the supreme court said in furke vs. mississippi in 1982, quote -- "this court has never sanctioned explicitly a federal command to the states to promulgate and enforce laws and regulations." the supreme court reaffirmed a decade later in new york vs. united states that, quote -- "the framers explicitly chose a constitution that confers upon congress the power to regulate individuals, not states." in that case, the court struck down federal legislation that would press state officials into administering a federal program, and more recently in prince v.
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united states, the supreme court stated, quote -- "we have held, however, that state legislatures are not subject to federal direction." and yet, this legislation does what these cases said congress may not do. it commands states to pass laws. it regulates states in their capacity as states, and it attempts to make states subject to federal direction. well, let me return to the principles with which i begin. liberty requires limits on government power. those limits come primarily from a written constitution which delegates enumerated powers to congress. we must be able to identify at least one of those enumerated powers to justify legislation, and those powers do not mean
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whatever we in our delightful wisdom want them to mean. those principles lead me to conclude that congress does not have the authority to require that individuals purchase health insurance and that congress cannot tax certain health insurance plans in some states but not in others. these and the others i have mentioned are only some of the constitutional issues raised by this legislation. any of these and others i have not mentioned could well be the basis for future litigation challenging this legislation should it become law. writing for the supreme court in 1991, justice sandra day o'connor reminded us all that -- quote -- "the constitution created a federal government of limited powers." america's founders, she wrote, "limited federal government power to" -- quote -- "protect our fundamental liberties." here's the way justice o'connor put it, writing for the supreme court in new york v. the
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united states. and this is in new york v. the united states in 1992. quote -- "but the constitution protects us from our own best intentions: it divides power among sovereigns and among branches of government precisely so that we may resist the temptation to concentrate power in one location, as an expedient solution to the crisis of the day." pretty remarkable statement. i could not have said it better myself. those are either principles that we must obey or cliches that we may ignore. if the constitution means anything more -- if it means anything anymore, if it does what it was created to do by not only empowering but, more importantly, limiting government power, then now is the time to stand on principle rather than slip on politics.
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i suggest the absence of a quorum. i withdraw that. i yield the floor. mr. demint: mr. president? the presiding officer: -- mr. brownback: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas the. mr. brownback: thank you, mr. president. i'm pleased to follow my colleague from utah. the idea that we could have a constitutional mandate to buy health insurance to me is highly questionable under our rights of the federal government under our constitution. senator hatch has been on the judiciary committee for many years and understands these issues very, very well. mr. president, we're now on our sixth iteration of the health care reform bill. this one's talking about expanding medicare basically as one of the key components of solving the problem. i found very interesting a quote from the mayo clinic. i think some others have cited it too but i found it quite interesting, succinct and
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accurate. any plan to expand medicare, which is the government's largest public plan, beyond its current scope does not solve the nation's health care crisis but compounds it. it's also clear that an expansion of the price control medicare payment system will not control overall medicare spending or curb costsment this scenario follows the typical pattern for price controls, reduced access, compromised quality, and increasing costs anyway. we need to address these problems not perpetuate them through health reform legislation. that was from the mayo clinic that stated that. that clearly is not the way to solve any problems and it hastens the day that medicare goes bankrupt, which is already set to happen 2017, virtually seven years away that that happens.
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key thing i want to talk about at this point in time is the possibility that this health care bill puts this very early piece of economic recovery that we're having at risk. latest reports onay be showing some tentative signs of economic recovery, as the rate of job loss continues to slow. i think most of this is based off of monetary policy, but nonetheless, we're seeing some of this taking place. consumer confidence, though, is still low. unemployment hovers at 10%, and over 7 million jobs lost since the beginning of this recession has happened. it should be clear that any potential recovery is incredibly fraincrediblyfragile. this being the case, congress and the administration should focus like a laser beam on policies that encourage growth and put americans back to work that. would seem to be obvious. instead, though, the administration and the democrat-controlled congress have taken up crucial months with a proposed revamping of our entire health care system that
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costs nearly $2.5 trillion over the next ten years, paid for by a host of new taxes and employer mandates, that pose a grave risk to a sustained rebound of our nation's economy. this hurts our economic recovery. and not only, that but the democrat health care bill includes some positively perverse incentives that would discourage hiring, work, savings and even marriage. that would discourage hiring, work, savings and marriage. higher taxes, more employer mandates, and disincentives to job creation, productivity and family formation are hardly the prescription for growth that our economy so desperately needs right now. both the house and senate bills would, for instance, increase the already existing penalty on work faced by many low-income families who receive tax and in-kind benefits from government welfare programs. we already hurt this.
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health insurance subsidies in the legislation for individuals and families in poverty would tack on an additional 12% to 20% to marginal tax rates which already approach 40% to 50% for families receiving a variety of benefits to those with low incomes. this would result in marginal tax rates of 50% to 60% for most affected families. if working more hours or obtaining a better paying job results in more than half of those additional earnings being taken away as a result of taxes or reduction in benefits, if you're a low-income individual, you're working more, you're getting more money coming in but your benefits from the government are reduced, so if you're taking 50% to 0% away -- 50% to 60% away, either in reduction of benefits or in taxes, the incentive to work harder or to invest in an education is greatly reduced that. is obvious on its face and yet is in this bill. bill. this is not the only work dins incentive in the -- disinsin
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active in the bill. it is very hard for college or high school students to obtain jobs so they can have spending money or help with educational expenses. this bill penalizes the families of these younger workers by including their wages in benefit eligibility calculations. for many low- to moderate-income families, the inclusion of a teen or college student's wages could mean a significant increase in their cost of health insurance or could even result in their losing thousands of dollars of health insurance subsidies altogether. that's in the bill. more harmful to the economy potentially on the incentives directed at employers. both the house and senate bills include temporary subsidies to small businesses to encourage them to offer employer-sponsored health insurance. as the number of employees increases or as salaries increase, the amount of the credit provided to the business decreases. the structure of this subsidy not only discourages employers from hiring new employees, but it also discourages them from
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increasing employees' salaries. we don't want those sorts of disincentives in any bill. ironically, the incentives in the bill would even work to encourage employers to drop health insurance coverage for individual employees or to eliminate insurance coverage altogether. the senate bill would cap employee contributions to insurance premiums at 9.8% of their income. 9.8%. if an employer offered a policy that required employees to pay more than this, the employee would be eligible to purchase insurance through the new health care exchange. and the employer would have to pay a fine. now, since in many cases that fine is considerably less than the additional insurance costs the employer would incur if they retained coverage, many businesses concerned about their bottom line would be enticed -- enticed -- by the bill to stop providing any health insurance coverage. so they're actually enticed in here to drop health insurance coverage. another thing we don't want to see happen.
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furthermore, employers who offer flexible spending accounts, f.s.a.'s, will be encouraged to stop providing these tax-free medical spending accounts for their employees. urn the senate democrats' bill, f.s.a. contributions would be included -- will be included in the total cost of an employee's health insurance benefit for the purpose of calculating the proposed tax on high-cost health plans, the so-called cadillac health care plans. adding an f.s.a. contribution could push the total cost of health benefits above the high-cost threshold for many workers, which would result in the employer being liable for a portion of the 40% high-cost tax plan's tax. -- plan's tax. as more and more plans become subject to the high-cost plan's tax -- cadillac plan tax, it will be in an employer's best interest to eliminate f.s.a. offerings altogether, another disincentive we don't want to see happen in anything, let alone in this health care bill.
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the proposed legislation would also create new marriage penalties across the income spectrums. now, we've been working for some years to do away with the marriage penalties. marriage is a good institution, a solid institution that helps so much in this nation, and yet it puts marriage penalties, it penalizes people for getting married built into this legislation. these penalties can be so large in some cases that couples would have to forego meanch in order -- marriage in order to avoid thousands of dollars in new taxes. the penalties are significant for low- and moderate-income families who often have limited savings as well. given the already significant marriage penalties in low-income benefit programs, it seems ironic that the government would create yet another program that penalizes low-income individuals for getting married. currently, if you're on public assistance and you get married, your combined incomes often move a couple out of the support that they receive for their families, whether it's health support,
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housing support, food support. by getting married, they often lose their benefits when we, instead of taking them away, we ought to be helping them form solid families. that sort of disincentive is built into this health insurance plan as well, where you actually put disincentives for low-income couples to get married. in other words, to be able to get the health insurance subsi subsidy, you may have to not get married and forego marriage in order to get that. and that's not a sort of incentive that we want in the system, in the bill. we're trying to take it away now in the welfare programs. but to add another piece of a marriage foanlt low- and moderate -- penalty to low-and moderate income couples is a disaster, is the wrong way for to us go, is the wrong thing to happen. that the democrat health care legislation would set the u.s. on a path to a single-payer government-run health care system of the sort found in europe and canada is bad enough, but even more troubling is the fact that these proposals create a series of perverse incentives,
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ultimately harmful to workers, businesses, and the entire economy. the senate must reject this poorly conceived, ruinously expensive scheme and get back to the business of helping our economy recover. i've talked to many people across the united states and particularly in my state of kansas. many people that are deeply concerned about this economy and the perverse things coming out of washington. so while they might start considering investing in their small business, putting some income -- some out to be able to grow and create jobs and opportunities, people are holding back, saying i don't know how many more taxes you're going to put on, i don't know what the health insurance plan is going to look like and what i'm going to be taxed there, i don't know what cap-and-trade is going to do to me on raising my energy costs. and everybody's holding back. these sort of perverse economic signals and the discussion of them in washington is perversely affecting the economy. and it's hurting the economic
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recovery. you put these pieces in place statutorily, hurting savings, hurting hiring, hurting marriage formation, you're going to further hurt an already very tentative recover from taking place. this is -- this is bad medicine for the economy. and the idea that you would just expand medicare to take care of it is a terrible idea. you're going to be hurting a program that already is not financially solvent in the long term and is looking at something like $30 trillion of unfunded obligations already on its boo books. that alone, if you expand it back to age 55. plus the provider community. the american medical associati association, american hospital association is opposed to this expansion of medicare. they don't get a full reimbursement of their costs right now under medicare. and now with the talk of bringing it back to age 55,
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you'll be sweeping in a number of people into medicare and its low reimbursement rates to providers. you're sweeping in a lot of people that are already in private insurance plans. and then when they're pulled out of private insurance plans, which pay at a full rate, to the provider community, you're taking those resources away from the provider community, from doctorshospitals. and that's why you're seeing the american medical association, american hospital association come out against this proposal on medicare expansion. that alone with the idea on how on earth would it ever be paid for when the program already is not on a stable financial track. the federation of american hospitals stated this: "the f.a.a. is strongly opposed to this proposal. a medicare buy-in would involve medicare rates, would be controlled by c.m.s. and crowd out older workers with private coverage who may choose early retirement as a result. such a policy will further negatively impact hospitals."
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my rural state in particular would have a huge negative impact on a number of rural hospitals in my state. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: is there a unanimous consent or order of business at the moment? the presiding officer: there is not. mr. durbin: mr. president, i rise to speak as if in morning business. i would like to say at the outset that i respect very much my colleague from the state of kansas. he and i have worked on many things together. in fact, we have traveled together to africa, a memorable trip for us visiting the republic of congo and rwanda.
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i thank him for that. i know he is preparing for another public career in the state of kansas with the blessing of kansas voters. we do disagree on health care reform, aeupbd know that he's -- and i know that he's had a chance to explain his point of view. i will say that i disagree with many of his conclusions about what we are about, what we are trying to accomplish. this is the bill that is before us when we return to the health care reform debate. it is 2,074 pages long. itthe house of representatives spent a similar period of time to come up with their work product they passed a few weeks afplgt this is historic -- ago. this is historic because we have been promising this and threatening this for decades. it was theodore roosevelt, as a matter of fact, who raised the
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question of whether or not america could accept the challenge of providing health care for every citizen. then, of course, harry truman in a more modern era issued the same challenge. he was confronted by his critics who said he's talking about socializing medicine. it must be socialism that harry truman is proposing. then the idea died. then again lyndon johnson raised it in the early 1960's. he was a master of the senate, as he's been characterized in a book that's written about him. and he believed that he had the power to make this happen to deal with the health care system across the board in america. it turned out that he made a significant contribution with the enact ph-ft medicare and -- with the enactment of medicare and medicaid but could not reach the goal of universal health care or comprehensive health care reform. this president, president obama, came to us and issued the same
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challenge. he said that we've reached a point of no return. current health care system in america is unsustainable. it's unaffordable. the cost of health care goes up dramatically. ten years ago a family of four paid an average of $6,000 a year, $500 a month, for health care insurance. now that's up to twice that amount. $12,000 average for a family of four, $1,000 a month. in eight years, with projected increases in costs, we expect that monthly premium for the family of four to go up to $2,000 a month, $24,000 a year. and we know that that represents 40% of earnings for many people. that is absolutely unsustainable. and so what we have tried to do first and foremost is address affordability. how can we make health insurance protection more affordable for more families? how can we start lessening the annual increase in premiums and actually help people by
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substantially cutting the cost of premiums for many families? it is a big challenge, and we have, i think, risen to the challenge with this bill. the other side of the aisle has ideas. they have amendments. they have speeches. they have charts, but they don't have a comprehensive health care reform bill. they don't have a bill that's been sent over to the congressional budget office and carefully read and evaluated. and it took weeks to do it. they don't have a bill that came back from that congressional budget office they considered to be the neutral observer of action on capitol hill. they don't have a bill that came back from the c.b.o. that has been characterized as actually reducing the deficit. this bill, according to the congressional budget office, will reduce america's deficit over the next ten years by $130 billion and over the following ten years another $650 billion.
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it isn't just dealing with health care reform. it's dealing with the costs of health care to our government and reducing our expenditures by significant amounts. it is the largest deficit-reduction bill ever considered on the floor of the united states senate. the republicans have many ideas; they don't have anything that matches this bill in terms of deficit reduction or bringing down the cost of health care. they have not produced a bill which will extend the reach of health insurance coverage to 94% of our people in this country, which this bill does. for the first time in the history of the united states of america, 94% of our american citizens will have the peace of mind of knowing that they have health insurance. today 50 million don't. this bill will take 30 million off the uninsured rolls, put them in insurance, plans that can protect their families. and it will help them pay for the premiums.
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if people are making less than 400% of poverty, which in layman's terms is about $80,000 a year in income, if your family makes $80,000 or less, we provide in this bill that we will help you pay for your premiums. the lower your income, the more we will help pay. if you are making for example, as an individual less than $14,000 a year, you will not pay for your health care. it will be covered by medicaid, the program that is now nationwide. and you won't have to pay a premium. then as you make more money, you will pay a little bit of a premium with help from this bill. the republicans have not produced a plan of any kind that deals with helping families of limited means, modest means pay for their health insurance premiums. we have. the congressional budget office has scored it. and one of the major provisions in this bill and one that i think most people will identify with quickly is the fact that health insurance reform is included too.
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there is a patients' bill of rights in this bill. it basically says that we should bring an end to the discriminatory practices of health insurance companies against american citizens. and we know what we're talking about here. friends of mine, a family that i'm closer to than any other family in springfield, illinois, has a son who's fighting cancer. he's a young man in his 40's. he has young children in high school, and he was diagnosed with melanoma just a few years ago. his oncologist has worked with him with chemotherapy and radiation and with the kind of treatment and drugs and surgeries that he needed. as a result of it, he's gone through some tough surgeries and tough treatment. his oncologist said at one point we have a drug that we believe will help you, gave him the drug, and the drug in fact
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arrested the development of his cancer. shortly after the drug was prescribed and administered, his health insurance company that he paid in to for years came back and said, "we will not cover that drug." the drug costs $12,000 a month. it is impossible for him as the coach of a baseball team at one of our universities to come up with that kind of money. his family borrowed money to pay for one of the treatments. now they're suing the insurance company in the hopes that they can get coverage. after all those years of paying in, when he finally needed that coverage, they turned him down. well, i hope he wins that law saoufplt this is a very profit -- that lawsuit. this is a very profitable insurance company. it is a company that should be paying but they're not. that is one example of thousands we're talking about here. the purpose of this bill is to make sure that that friend of mine and his family and other families just like him have a fighting chance against these
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insurance companies. we say in this bill we're going to provide a way for protection for people with preexisting conditions so that if you have a history of cholesterol or high blood pressure, if you have some cancer in your family, it's not going to disqualify you. you're still going to be eligible for health insurance, a policy that you can afford. we also say that when it comes to your children -- and you know how it is today. i learned the hard way. every parent does. the kids are under your family plan, and then they reach the age of 24 and they're off. we extend that to age 26, which i think is a little more peace of mind, particularly for students graduating from college looking for jobs these days. not easy. we want to make sure they're covered with health insurance while they're paying off their student loans and building up their career. that's in this bill. there's not a bill from the republican side of the aisle that deals with the patients' bill of rights. in fact, it is a rare senator on the other side of the aisle who even stands up and is critical of the health insurance companies and the way they're
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treating people in this country. i don't know if my friends on the other side of the aisle get back home enough to meet with some of these families. surely they do. and they must receive mail that tells them about these stories that we've all heard about. you would think that they would be endorsing our approach in this bill. instead they're critical of it from start to finish. and they talk a lot about taxes. mr. president, i want you to know that this bill, if you have a small business, under this bill, with 25 or fewer employees, we actually provide tax breaks to help you provide insurance for your employees. that's a lot of businesses. mom and pop businesses, for example, that can't afford health insurance that will have a chance now because of tax breaks here. and then when it comes to paying for premiums, i mentioned earlier if you make $80,000 or less, we provide tax breaks in helping you pay for it. the cost of that in tax breaks is $440 billion over ten years. it is a huge amount of money that we are providing to american citizens to give them a
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chance to pay for their health insurance premiums. all we hear from the other side is this bill is going to raise taxes. it does raise some. it raises taxes on health insurance companies for what we call cadillac health care policies. we can debate for a long time whether that level of policy, $25,000, is a reasonable level or it should be something different. but the fact is it's a tax on the health insurance company. and will likely result in fewer policies that are that grand and that expansive being issued. i think this is a bill that moves in the right direction. it's a bill that makes insurance more affordable. it's a bill that does not decrease the -- increase the deficit. it reduces it. it is a bill that gives people a fighting chance against health insurance company that discriminates against their customers. it's a bill that extends the customers of health insurance to 94% of americans. it is a bill that puts medicare
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on sound footing. it adds five years of solvency to medicare. five years. there hasn't been a bill produced on the other side of the aisle that even adds one year that i'm aware of. five years more of solvency. that's the reason why this bill's been supported by the american association of retired persons. we have supported medical professionals, senior organizations, consumer groups all across america. they know as we do that we can't wait any longer. i also want to make a point that the senate bill offers significant savings for seniors. the c.m.s. actuary projects a net $469 billion in medicare and medicaid savings over ten years, slightly more than the congressional budget office. it extends the life of the medicare trust fund, according to the office of the actuary, by nine years. that's longer than anyone's projected in previous forecasts. but it's a significant increase, almost doubling the life of the medicare trust fund over what it currently would be.
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it reduces premiums by $12.50 a month by the year 2019, or $300 per couple per year. slowing medicare growth with lower -- will lower health care costs for seniors welz younger -- as well as younger americans. not only will there be a premiums savings but coinsurance will fall as well. the senate bill slows the growth of health care costs. the actuary report that we have here, for example, says that reductions in medicare payments updates for providers, the actions of the independent medicare advisory board and the excise tax on high cost employer-sponsored health insurance would have a significant downward impact on future health care costs growth rates. the bend in the health care cost curve is evident. health care costs under the senate bill begin to decline as cost saving reforms kick in. i've not mentioned here that this bill really focused on prevention and wellness too. if there's one thing that we
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need is to encourage people to take care of themselves and to get a helping hand for the tests they need to stay healthy and to monitor their conditions. this preventive care and wellness, though, we haven't been credited by the congressional budget office, is an important element of this bill. i think that this is -- there's one thing we should all agree on. the cost of hectically for small businesses is very difficult. on the senate floor both democratic frien friends and otn the other side of the aisle are struggling to pay for health insurance. we have offered a solution. one that is comprehensive and one that has been scored and carefully analyzed by the congressional budget office. unfortunately, that hasn't happened on the other side. there approach is basically to criticize what we have proposed but to offer no alternative. if they are happy with the current system, i understand that. if they will concede that it's hard to produce a bill like
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this, i would understand that. but merely to criticize this without an alternative, a comprehensive alternative that has been carefully analyzed, i don't think is a responsible approach to the serious problem that we face today. there are real-life stories of people that have contacted me. one of them i'll tell you involves a small business. right now we know that one sick employee at a small business can drive the cost of health care for the whole company to limits where they just can't afford it. my friends marc friends martha e small business owners in chicago and they have to wries well, this problem and try to run a -- and they have to wrestle with this problem and try to run a successful business as well. they promised health insurance to their full-time employees.
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since we were covered, we wanted to offer the same benefit to our employees. but as their health care premiums have skyrocketed with leaps of more than 20% at a time, the commitment has taken a toll on their business. providing health insurance is their full-time staff of seven meant cuts not only to profits but also to the wages of their employees. in general, the older employees faced even higher costs. "we shouldn't put our nation's gloirs a position where the health costs of an older worker can make such a huge difference. martha says, "i don't like making decision decisions that . i want to base hiring decisions on the quality of the person." the legislation on the floor incidentally deals with the rating of -- raiding of premium costs for senio senior citizensr example, and makes a fairer rating system. currently health insurance companies in america are exempt from the antitrust laws under a bill known as mccarran-ferguson passed in the 1940's, ahuang organized baseball. which means that the insurance
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companies can literally sit dmown a room and conspire, collude, agree on prices that they're going to chancht if any other companies that were supposed to be competing in america, they'd be sued. but not the insurance companies. so they can set premiums and agree on what the premiums will be and they can divide up the market for the sale of their product, sending some companies to one town and so some to another, making sure they don't really compete nens one another. that's reality of health insurance today. what we provide in this bill is protection against the ratings which discriminate against people because they are elderly, because they are women. we put limits to the rating differences that will be allowed in health insurance policies. there's no bill that i know from the republican side that even considers or addresses that problem. mr. president, i'd like to make one other statement at this point on an unrelated topic and
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ask consent that it be placed in a veapt part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, one of the issues that i have tried to focus on is our foreclose crisis. back in september 2006 when housing prices were humming along and the bankers and brokers were raking in money, the center for responsible lending published a report called "losing ground." that report december 2006 estimated that nearly 2 million homes would be lost to foreclosure in the coming years due largely to shoddy subprime mortgages. here's what the mortgage bankers association told "the washington post" when they heard of this study that was offereddably the center for responsible lending. i quote. "the report they said is wildly pessimistic because most homeowners have prime loans and are not at financial risk" that's what a senior economist at the mortgage bankers association said in december of 2006. he went ton say, "the subprime market was only a small part of
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the overall market and lending industry officials have said that regulatory action regulating the subprime markets could injure the opportunity for that market." on the floor of the senate, i was involved in a debate with the senator from texas named phil gramm. he offered an amendment to a bankruptcy bill which senator grassley and i worked on that said, if you were guilty of predatory lending, you will be precluded in bankruptcy from pursuing their claim. that was debated on the floor and debating the other side against my amendment was senator phil gramm of texas, who said on the floor of the united states senate, if the durbin amendment passes, it will destroy the subprime mortgage market. well, my amendment failed. by one vote. and the subprime mortgage market continued until it collapsed, just a couple years ago. i wish i'd had another vote for my amendment. at this time in this debate took
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place in december of 2006, about 25% of home loans were subprime. so the mortgage bankers, unfortunately, misled the public about the state of the market at the time to wave away any warnings about any crisis that might be following them. we all know twha has meant to this country. i go back to that episode now because in 2009 we have had more than two million foreclosures, something the mortgage bankers association said wouldn't happen, and in fact the mortgage bankers association has joined in recently announcing that in the third quarter of this year, nearly one in seven families paying mortgages in our country were either behind on their payments or already in foreclosure. one out of seven people holding mortgages today. it's hard to imagine. that's the highest it has ever been. the mart bankers's -- the mortgage bankers' statement said
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despite the -- the decline in mortgage performance dins. three years ago the rosy scenario that they painted has now morphed into a much more serious situation which they cannot ignore. baif a been talking about this foreclosure -- i've been talking about this foreclosure crisis since august of 2007. in illinois foreclosure filings around chicago went up 67% in the last quarter. this isn't just a problem for the city of chicago. new filings in cook county, namely suburban areas, were down 4.6% last quarter. the problem, unfortunately, is migrating to the suburbs. all of the so-called collar counties around chicago have had massive increase in foreclosure activity. kean county, a near-in county to the city of chicago, saw foreclosure filings increase 97% in the last quarter over the
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comparable period last yeemplet i know the administration is work on this. the home affordable modification program is helping some families. i know the treasury stepped up, naming and shaming, hoping that it will provide more data to the public on which banks are actually trying. some are, not much, but some are. many are not trying at all to renegotiator mortgages, though people are facing foreclosure. no matter how much the treasury department leans on these bankers, the big banks that service most of these troubled mortgages simply have not stepped up to the plate. treasury reported yesterday that 3.3 million families are eligible for thei for the home e program. those are families that are at least two months behind on their mortgages and at serious risk of being thrown out on the street. how many families, based on this 3.3 million families eligible for this program, how many families have been able to get a bank to commit to a permanent
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loan modification that will keep them in their homes? 31,000 out of 3.3 million. less than .1% of the families in trouble have been able to work out a permanent solution with their bankers. that is disgraceful. the big banks that created this mess continue to stand in the way of cleaning it up. they're making billions of dollars while foreclosing on millions of american families. shaming the banks with speeches on the floor of the senate isn't going to work. we have learned the hard way that many banks are beyond embarrassment. you can't embarrass bankers that take billions of taxpayers' dollars to stay solve solvent, o overcome their bad banking policies and then turn around and pay millions out in bonuses to the officers of the same banks. you can't shame bankers into doing something when they simply zoo care. let's be clear.
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congress hasn't done its part either. we've not done enough to make these banks help the american people that need some help. i'll continue to come to the floor to remind my colleagues that we must address this crisis far more aggressively than we have and i'll continue to look for ways to help. one last statistic: "the wall street journal" ran a front-page story recently highlighting that one in four homeowners were paying a-- who are paying a mortgage paid owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth. one in four homeowners are making house payments on homes that are now under water. if you own more than your house is worth and have no extra cash lying around, you're really vulnerable. if there is a sickness in your family, a health care emergency, a job loss, you lose your home. if you're under water, you're likely to stay there. 10.7 million families find their mortgages are higher than the value of their homes and are in a serious risk of foreclosure. over 400,000 of those families are at risk in my home state of
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illinois. j.p. morgan chase estimates that home prices won't hit bottom until next year. so it's going to get worse before it gets better. so will we stand by and idly watch this, watching people lose their life savings and their homes, watch these boardeed up homes spring up around america and shake our heads and say, it is inevitable? we don't have to. what we have to do is lean on these banks legally, with new laws, to put pressure on them to make a difference. don't appeal to their better nature. we tree tried that and it didn't work. tweef use the law. we have to stand up for this economy and putting it back on its feet and we have to say to these bankers, we are going to make a point of saying that you have to renegotiator these mortgages. we need toughed our part i -- we need to do our part in the senate as we focus on health care and jobs and the state of
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the economy, let's not lose sight of the foreclosure process that is devastating neighborhoods around the country. the economy will continue to struggle until more families are confident in their homes that they're willing to go out and go shopping again. we must do more. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: i had a chance to listen to my good friend from -- the senator from illinois on his remarks about why the bill before the united states senate is going to reduce costs and pay down on the national debt. that's the senator from illinois. i'm the senator from iowa. but i would like to not refer to my judgment about this bill right now, but i'd like to refer to the judgment of a report that
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was issued today from the chief actuary of the center on medicare services in the department of health and human services, a professional person that calls it like it is. that's his responsibility. but, remember, i'm quoting from a report that was just given today about this 2,074-page bill we have before us that my friend from illinois was just speaking very favorably about. so we're talking about somebody in the executive branch of government under the president of the united states that says this about this reform bill -- that it will cost more than the status quo. so the chief actuary of the center for medicare and medicaid services issued a report on
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senator reid's bill, which shows that health care costs would go up, not down, under his bill. the chief actuary warned that the democrats' health care bill would increase health care costs, threaten access to care for seniors, and force people off their current coverage. in other words, the administration's own chief actuary conclusively demonstrates that the democrats' rhetoric does not plach the reality of the bill -- does not match the reality of the bill. the cost curve would bend up, not down. national health expenditures would increase from 16% of g.d.p. to 20.9% under the reid bill. the chief actuary concluded that the federal government and the country would spend $234 billion
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more under the bill than without it. the chief actuary also $11 bill.
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the new taxes in the reid bill would increase drug and device prices and health insurance premiums for consumers. the actuary estimates this would increase costs on consumers by by $11 billion per year, beginning in 2011. that's three years before most benefits kick in. then the actuary speaks about health care shortages for plausible and even probable -- that these health care shortages are -- quote -- unquote, "plausible and even probable, particularly for medicare and
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medicaid beneficiaries because of the increased demand for health care, the actuary says that access to care problems -- again, those words plausible and even probable under the reid bill. the access problems will be the worst for seniors on medicare and low-income people on medicaid. the actuary says -- "providers might tend to accept more patients who have private insurance with relatively attractive payment rates and fewer medicare and medicaid patients exacerbating existing access problems for the latter group." premiums for the government-run plan would actually be higher than under private plans. agreeing with the congressional budget office, the chief actuary
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said that because the government plan would not encourage higher value health care and it would attract sicker people, premiums for the government-run plan would be 4% higher than for the private insurers. and then there is a point about employers dropping coverage. the chief actuary concluded that 17 million people will lose their employer-sponsored coverage. many smaller employers would be "inclined to terminate their existingher night in his debut team is definitely better with him in it and if the capitals win it, you said it, they improve to eight and 0 in the southwest division. you always like to beat those teams in your own division. >> all right. thanks, lisa. we'll see you later on. >> reporter: you got it. face off between the
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capitals and hurricanes is coming up at the top of the hour right here on comcast sports net followed by capital's post game live. the nationals can now brag they have a possible hall of famer on their rostered. today the signing of rodriguez became official. they gave a two year, 6 million contract but if rodriguez can be a mentor to floor rest, the deal could be a bargain. today the -- team introduced him. he will act as a coach behind the plait for what will be a young pitching staff. in fact, he's old enough to be the father of 21-year-old steven. >> communication is very important. you know, we are going to sit down and first of all i want to talk to them to see what they like to do, you know, how they like to catch and then we go from there. i'm not a difficult catcher. i'm just trying to do things
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very simple for the pitcher. so i just go with what they feel comfortable and we go from there. >> here is his resume, it's impressive. just 289 hits to reach the 3000 mark. add to this list 13 all-star appearances during the latest o redskins injury and the news isn't good. some didn't practice today. they have been ruled out for sunday's game against the radars. haynesworth has a sprained ankle and knee and sellers is dealing with a severe thigh bruce. it will look different. the offense is missing former pro bowlers chris daniels, clinton portis, chris cooley and now sellers. the defense has faired a little better. fred will hold down one corner opposite carlos rogers and
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doubtty will be starting at safety in place of thornton. we have more redskins coverage still ahead on geico sports night. kelli johnson sits down with devin thomas who suddenly has become a force in the red skin's passing game. the problem with notre dame wasn't their offense, instead it was their defense but that didn't stop the irish from naming brian kelly as their new head coach today. his forte is offense. here is something you can't dispute. he turned around cincinnati and looks to do the same for the irish. >> you do not come to the university of notre dame because you want to be average. you want to be the best of the best, and that's why i'm here. it inspires me to be around young men like i had in front of me today. now we're going to have our good days and bad days, but we start with that premise that you can tell these young men they want
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to win. >> the cincinnati players are not happy that kelly is leaving, especially receiver marty. he told the players the news, he walked out one minute into the meeting and his teammates followed some with tear ing in the eyes. this was no time to celebrate. >> we are a tight knit group and with or without him we're good. don't nobody panic. we're good. >> reporter: did you hear anything that in that room? >> i heard everything i need to know. >> everybody and their mama knew what was going on. you know what i'm saying? everybody and their mama knew what was going on and it lasted that long, i felt like he did our team an in-justice. hopefully he packs up and gets out in a her ky so we can focus on florida. >> still to come on sports night. he'll hear as the big weekend has finally arrived army and
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navy kickoff tomorrow. and the redskins second tar risky sports has taken a beaten. will reed be available to tame the lions on sunday? what will the redskins look like next season. rich channeled lar breaks down possible scenarios of who will stay and go. this week he looks at the offensive line. check it out at csn keyword redskins. we'll be right bac boss:hey, glad i caught you. i was on my way to present ideas about all the discounts we're offering. i've got some catchphrases that'll make these savings even more memorable. gecko: all right... gecko: good driver discounts. now that's the stuff...? boss: how 'bout this? gecko: ...they're the bee's knees? boss: or this? gecko: sir, how 'bout just "fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance."
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boss: ha, yeah, good luck with that catching on! anncr: geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance.
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welcome back. you always hear that records don't matter when rivals meet in college football. that's certainly the case when it comes to army and navy. the two academies will meet for
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the 110th time in philadelphia. after all we're talking about soldiers that will defend our country. for the first time in years, navy dominance over army will be put to the test. they have locked up a spot in the texas bowl against missouri. the black nights are playing for a chance to play in the eagle bank bowl here in dc so the midding understand that army will have some extra motivation when they take the field tomorrow. >> obviously they got a lot to play for but for us it's army. we want to beat them if they are 12 and 0 or 0 and 12. we are playing for a bowl game or no bowl game. they are rivals. we look forward to this game every year, they do the same thing and it's army week. >> the intensity is high and emotions are high. you just try not to let them get the best of it because it's easy. coaches give you an example. some guys, they forget their own names and stuff. so hopefully that won't happen
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to me because i got shots to stay calm and stay cool and collected. you don't have to wait until saturday to see the game. tonight at 10:00 we'll show you what happened in the flag football version of the rivalry. activity duty service members from both branches went at it last night. to the nfl last night the browns ended a seven game losing streak and handed the steelers the fifth straight loss. first quarter, josh bobbles it. look at this return. cribs takes it down all the way to the 9-yard line and set up a field goal to give the browns a 3-0 lead. with seconds left in the first half chris jennings around the end and scores on the touchdown run and that made it 13-0. it was the first touchdown of his career and the first rushing touchdown by a browns running back all season. ben was sacked eight times and five of those on third down.
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the browns went on to upset the steelers 13-6. pittsburgh is now six and seven and the play-offs hope all but over. hopefully the ravins watched that game last night and took notice because if the browns can beat the steelers than the lions can upset the ravins. the concern is ed reid. reid is listed doubtful with injuries to foot and groin. because the lions have calvin johnson, who is a match up nightmare for opposing defensive back. this week former justin harper has been playing the role of johnson in practice. he even wore johnson's 85 but harper can only do so much. johnson is 6'5" and his skill level is off the charts. >> calvin johnson is a match up nightmare. you know, he's as good as anybody in the league. we played him two years ago in
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philadelphia. he's tall, he's fast and got great hands and catches passes. he's a tremendous player. >> he's a great, great receiver, you know. he's got size. he's got speed. everything that really impresses me probably the most about hill is he goes after every ball as if it's the last one. you know, you see some skilled receivers that will make catches and the next one they will drop. this guy is fighting for every one like it's the last rebound. >> there is some key players on the injury list. offensive weapons mark clayton and lj smith join reid as doubtful and johnson and terrell are 50/50. the eagles have confirmed that brian westbrook will miss at least one more game because of a second concussion this season. that means brian is out for sunday's game against the giants. wide receiver jackson pack tilled all week and is listed as probable for the game. jackson missed last week's game also because of a concussion.
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still to come on sports night. kelli johnson has a talk with one of the redskins rising young stars. it's an interview you'll only see on comcast sports net and the puck will drop in a few minutes. we'll head back to verizon center to get the latest. geico sports night returns after this. is emily, and in 7 years... i'll be an alcoholic. all: hi, emily. announcer: kids who drink before age 15 are 5 times more likely to have alcohol problems when they're adults. so start talking before they start drinking.
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welcome back, devin thomas fred davis and malcolm kelly,
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finally showing promise. last week thomas had 100 yards receiving. it's the first time any of the three topped the mark. kelli johnson talked one on one with thomas, it's an interview you'll only see on comcast sports net. >> i know a lot of people can look at the scene and say it would be easy to fold the tent and say, you know, whatever on the season. you guys have kind of all moles it seems like performed better as a team. it's like you come together through all the loss. >> yeah, it's weird. it's like i think guys really just came together knowing that all the things we've been through, guys going down and just kind of had to form a pack saying we got to fight through it despite people thinking we can't step up to the line or whatever. it's just keep fighting through it and play your guts off. >> a lot of players come into the nfl having never really lost in their career. they lost, you know, seven total games in this entire time. >> right. >> for you is this losing, i
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mean, you didn't have the best record. what has it been like for you? >> i mean, we were in the same situation with losing close games. wefuls like 7-0 in seven over-less. you know, i'm still trying find a way to win those close games. so it's tough, you know, and i'm kind of used to it but ready to get over the hump. >> you didn't bring the bug here, did you? >> no, don't say that. >> what is the one thing you wish someone would have told you before you made the transition? >> that you not going to get your way. just because you get drafted, you're not going to -- things not going to come your way because they pick you first and that's definitely the case with me. i'm thinking maybe being the first pick i would have more opportunities right away or put into a bowl right away and they got to feel comfortable with you doing it. >> reporter: coming out the first 100-yard game, the first
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two touchdowns. thinking back and looking at the tape of that performance, a long time coming, how excitingfuls that? >> it was really good. finally it just all clicked at one time. there was numerous occasions where i was open. i've been open, you know, i'm like that but this game just so happened jason me and hill on that same page, he took shots down the field and it just all worked and i was there to make the catches for him. so it all clicked. it felt real good. >> in a sense monk ky off the back. >> findly get that stretch and a monkey off and we can keep rolling. >> and the last four weeks you had made strides and your numbers are rising. what's the biggest difference for you? >> finally beginning my starting spot is the main difference and allowing me to be a problem and the responsibility of being a starter and things that come with it. being on time and make sure i'm
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on top of everything. just more responsibility and i feel like that helped me put more responsibility on me allowing me to be more mature about the things i'm doing and letting me go. because of the 4:05 kickoff sunday, we have a special start time for redskins kickoff. it begins at 3:00. we'll be live from the comcast sports net studios and talk about the few tour of the team. that is live from bay area studios. also on redskins kick off, you'll see the interview with thomas. you'll get a guided tour and thomas is a walking work of art. devin will tell you the meaning of those tattoos. that's inside access. you don't want to miss it sunday at 3:00 only on comcast sports net. the capitals enter tonight's game against carolina with a 7-0 and 0 record against the southeast division. the only team in the nhl with a
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perfect divisional record and they are tied for the league lead in points w. more on tonight's game we head back to verizon center. here is joe and craig. >> reporter: greg, now that we're all moles in mid december, hockey fans can get the sense for the olympics in the distance but the guys that play now day haves been feeling the effects. >> i would have loved no practice. wouldn't that be great? the compressed schedule 62 gapes and 136-days this year last season 17 fewer than the same amount of days. the season started nine days earlier, nine sets of back to back still and five sets of three games. >> chris clark chimed in and expressed this work isn't so bad. >> it's been good, a little bit good for us, especially when you're on a roll and if you can play every other day or back to back you feel like you're in the winning streak it was good for us. it was kind of tight and compressed and you feel like you're either on the road or
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playing the game everywhere. >> the caps and the hurricanes met at the end of november in roll lee and that game featured a cover your eyes moment. >> yeah, a hit that everyone has been talking about throughout the league. here is the knee on knee. he went off, suspended and banged up anyway. he missed two games. gets the flier. the cheap shot and bradley, that costs him four games with that punch. >> it did. nhl executive is fattening up the emergency assistance fund. >> 18 players suspended 44 games. 500k plus, the largest fine to date. $98,000, the coaches also being fined $98,000 breaks down like this. there are 192 paydays in the nhl, which means alex makes 49 a day. >> that's not bad. that's good living. >> not too bad.
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>> the hurricanes are dealing with injuries but they manage to play tough. meet you back here at 7:00. >> all right. thanks, guys. ever wonder who he really thinks about the game? tonight and after every cap game you can check out joe live breaking it down from the play by play booth and joe wants to know your thoughts from csn this is geico sports night.


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