By Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) - 07/16/09 04:50 PM EDT
Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who is the senior Republican on the Budget Committee, has pointed out that once the healthcare program envisioned in the Kennedy bill is up and going, it would add $2.3 trillion to the national debt over a 10-year period.
People across this country are saying, “Whoa. Wait a minute. This is getting out of control. We need some limits. We know you print money there in Washington, D.C., but our children and grandchildren and even we are going to pay the consequences if we do not have some limits on the amount of debt.”
It seems like the president would say to the senators who are working on this: “Wait a minute, senators. This needs to be something that pays for itself. We cannot add $2.3 trillion to the debt.”
We know that there has been a lot of hard work done on the Kennedy bill, but we need to stop and start over even to get close to the president's own objectives.
Republicans suggest that when we in the Senate start over, we do it in a bipartisan way, and that we include some suggestions from the Republican side, which has not been done at all. The president has said he wanted a bipartisan bill, but we have had a completely partisan bill in the Senate, and that’s not the way things should work in Washington.
Republicans are in Washington to be a part of solving this big problem, but we have put our ideas on the table and they are not being considered. The Democrats who are in charge are being polite in what they say, but their thinking is still, “We have the votes. We won the election. We will write the bill.”
As long as that’s the case, America will not be better off, and the president's goals will not be met. The Kennedy bill being considering now will add more than $2 trillion to the federal debt, have a big new tax for states, stuff low-income people into government programs, and still leave 30 million people uninsured.
Alexander is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee; and the Appropriations and Budget committees.