I note that the exception for big business was announced in a blog posting by a midlevel political appointee in the Treasury Department, if I remember right, on a Friday. I may be wrong on the day but I think it was on a Friday. In Washington language, by any measure, when you announce a major policy that impacts the whole country that exempts giant businesses from your rule that you are jamming on the American people and you don't do it from the White House, you don't do it from the President, you don't do it as an announcement, you don't take questions on it, you simply put a blog posting from a midlevel staffer, that counts as ``quietly.''
It hasn't been quiet since then because everyone happened to notice. So my prediction right now is if we get past this, if the forces in this body who defend the status quo--and, wow, are there a lot of forces that defend the status quo. There are a lot of people with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. If they prevail, if ObamaCare goes into effect before the end of this President's administration, mark my words, you will see an exemption for labor unions just like the exemption for big business, just like the exemption for Members of Congress.
What are we left with then? We are left with a system where ObamaCare is a rule for, as Leona Helmsley so famously described them, the little people. For everybody who doesn't have power and juice and connections in Washington, for everyone--look for the men and women at home, maybe you have an army of lobbyists working for you. Maybe you have Senators' cell phones on your speed dial. Maybe you can walk the corridors of power. In that case you too get an exemption. But if you are just a hard-working American, if you are just trying to provide for your family, if you are just trying to do an honest day's work, make your community better, raise your kids, set a good example, then the message this President has sent--and sadly the message the Senate has sent--is you don't count. We are going to treat everybody else better than you.
That is exactly backward. It is the hard-working American we work for, not the lobbyists with tassels on their loafers who wander the halls but the single mom in a diner. They are the people who are losing.
I wish to talk about the harm to jobs and economic growth that is coming from ObamaCare. Americans continue to suffer from high unemployment and severe underemployment. Instead of helping job growth, ObamaCare's mandates and costs are causing businesses to stop hiring workers, to cut employees' hours, and they are increasing the costs to operate businesses. Small businesses in particular are being hammered by ObamaCare.
Here are some recent statistics on unemployment and underemployment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics report for August of 2013, there are 11.3 million unemployed persons. The unemployment rate, the official unemployment rate is listed at 7.3 percent. Yet college graduates over 25 face just a 3.5-percent unemployment.
Former Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee John Edwards used to talk about two Americas. I didn't agree with a lot of things John Edwards said as a political candidate, but I actually agreed with that notion, and it is a tragic notion, that there are two Americas. There are two Americas, A, between the ruling class in Washington and everyday Americans, but there are also two Americas right now between those of wealth and privilege and power and everybody else. If you are lucky enough to be a college graduate, your unemployment rate is 3.5 percent. That is pretty good. The people who are getting hammered, who are losing under ObamaCare, are the most vulnerable among us. They are young people, Hispanics, African Americans, single moms. For Black teens the unemployment rate is over 10 times higher than it is for college graduates--38.2 percent.
Let me ask, when small businesses are not hiring, when small businesses are laying off people, when small businesses are forcing employees to work 29 hours a week, whom do you think that is impacting? It doesn't impact titans of industry. The rich and powerful are not losing their jobs. They are not finding themselves forced into part-time work.
We talked about the fast food business. The fast food business, that industry is being hammered. You want to talk about what a tremendous avenue for employment the fast food industry has been, particularly for the first and second job someone has. When we look at the unemployment rate of African-American teens of 38.2 percent, the fast food industry has been such a great avenue for advancement for minority teenagers.
I note I do not view that from the perspective of abstract numbers on a piece of paper. I view that from a very personal perspective, because 55 years ago, when my father came from Cuba, he was 18, he was penniless, and he couldn't speak English. But he was lucky. He was lucky to get to America. He was lucky to be able to apply for a student visa, to be accepted to the University of Texas, to flee the Batista regime, where he had been imprisoned and tortured as a kid. By the time he was a teenager, my father had endured more than the vast majority of Members of Congress will ever experience.
I will note with that background it does make the back-and-forth of Washington pretty mild by comparison. If someone says something mean about you in the newspaper, it may not be altogether pleasant, but it is pretty darned mild compared to being beaten and almost killed in a Cuban jail as my dad was 55 years ago.
When he landed in Austin--if I could, Mr. President, I would ask you to put yourself in his shoes--not literally, because I think your feet are bigger than his, but figuratively. When my dad landed in Austin, he couldn't speak English. He didn't know anybody. Imagine being in a strange land where you cannot speak English, you have $100 sewn into your underwear that my grandmother put there. The first thing he needed was a job, so he went to look for a job.
The problem is if you are an 18-year-old kid from Cuba and you cannot speak English, there are not a lot of jobs you can get. If you can't speak English, it is pretty hard to get a job where you have to deal with customers who are going to expect you to speak English. At that point he didn't have a lot of skills. He was a teenager. So his first job was washing dishes. He made 50 cents an hour.
Why did he get that job? Because you didn't have to speak English. Even though he did not have a lot of skills as an 18-year-old kid, he was perfectly capable of taking a dish, putting it under very hot water, scrubbing it and setting it aside and he did it over and over.
When my father was here, he had no means of support other than washing dishes. So what he did, one of the reasons he wanted to work in a restaurant, is that restaurants would let you eat while you were working. It was one of the perks of working in a restaurant; the employees were able to eat. My father had no money for food. He barely had money to pay for a tiny little apartment. In fact, he started in the dorms, I believe, and tuition. That was it. He didn't have money to buy food, so what my dad did is he ate at work. Since he liked to eat 7 days a week, he worked 7 days a week. He would go in and he only ate during those 8 hours. During the 8 hours he was working washing dishes, he would eat like crazy, I mean he would just feed his face. Because when he left, the next 16 hours he wasn't eating anything, wasn't buying food until the next 16 hours he showed up at work. That was the next time he was going to eat.
Some people may look at a dishwashing job paying 50 cents an hour and turn up their nose at it and say: Who really cares about people in jobs like that? Sometimes this Senate behaves like that. Who cares about people in jobs like that?
But after some time my father learned English. I will tell you how he learned English. He did a couple of things. No. 1, my father signed up for Spanish 101. When he was a freshman at UT, he signed up for Spanish 101. You might say: Why would a native speaker take Spanish 101? That seems a little dumb.
What my father would do is sit in the classroom and basically try to reverse engineer everything. So the professor would say milk is leche, and he would write it down and say leche is milk. He would try to sit and listen, and as the teacher was teaching Spanish he would try to do everything backward and try to figure out what the English was.
The other thing my dad would do, on Saturdays, he would go to movies. In fact, when I was a kid, we would go to movies all the time together. It was one of the things we loved to do together, still do. My dad used to go to movies on Saturday and he would sit there and watch the same movie in English typically three times. He would just sit there and watch it. When he first came there to Austin, he would watch a movie three times and have no idea of what was going on the first, second or third time. But then he would do it again and do it again.
The human brain is a miraculous thing. As he would watch the movie two or three times, by the second time you start picking up context, start picking up what was going on and start following the plot. By the third time he would start following it even more. So relatively quickly my father learned English.
I note he had a pretty exquisite incentive to learn English. His incentive to learn English was if he didn't, he was going to flunk out of school because he was taking his classes in English. He took mostly math classes and math was the sort of thing you did not need as much language as you do in other topics. But if he didn't learn English pretty fast, he was going to flunk out of the University of Texas.
Once he learned English, he managed, at the restaurant he was working at, to get a promotion. He got a promotion to be a cook. Being a cook, that was good. Look, being a cook was a lot better than being a dishwasher. It paid a little bit more. I don't know how much he got paid being a cook, but it paid better than 50 cents an hour. He had to speak enough English, so when someone came in and ordered, let me get a steak and potatoes, he had to know what that was and not give them scrambled eggs. So he learned enough to be a cook and respond to the orders.
The place he cooked was a place called the Toddle House. It was a place where the cooks were in front of the people. It doesn't exist anymore, but my father described it as a sort of Denny's. Imagine Denny's combined with Benihana. The menu was similar to Denny's, but the cook was in front of you so you could see him. So my dad learned to flip pancakes. Let me tell you, as a kid on Saturday or Sunday morning and your dad is making pancakes, it is very cool when he can flip them--you could make him flip them high in the air and catch them. But he could do that.
I will credit my father; he invented--this wasn't for the restaurant, but he did it anyway--he invented green eggs and ham. >Tweet He did it two ways. No. 1, the easy way, is he put green food coloring in the eggs, chopped up ham in it. ``Green Eggs and Ham'' was my favorite book when I was a boy. The food coloring is a little bit cheating, but if you take some spinach and mix it into the eggs, the eggs turn green.
My dad worked as a cook to finish his way through the University of Texas. In 1961, my dad graduated, got a math degree. At his next job, he was hired as a teaching assistant. He began taking graduate classes in mathematics at the University of Texas and he got hired as a teaching assistant teaching undergrads math. A teaching assistant was a better job than washing dishes or being a cook. It paid more and it had more forward advancement. So he enjoyed being a teaching assistant.
He had all sorts of clever final exam questions that he would give. He taught college algebra. I remember one of his final exam questions was: You have a triangle with sides 11, 20, and 9. Compute the area.
You get students who would write pages and pages, trying to put all these various equations together, trying to figure out the area. Almost all of them were wrong. It is a basic rule of geometry, for a triangle the sum of any two sides has to be longer than the third side or else they don't actually meet. A triangle with sides of 20, 11, and 9--11 and 9 add up to 20. That is a straight line. The area is zero. So he enjoyed kind of coming up with clever final exam questions. That was one of them.
But from there, after being a teaching assistant, he applied for and got a job with IBM as a computer programmer. This was, I think, 1962, 1963. It was in the early 1960s. From there he got the skills as a computer programmer. He worked in the oil and gas industry. Subsequently, with my mother, he went on to start a small business, a seismic data processing company in the oil and gas business.
So when I was a kid, as I grew up, my parents were small business owners. When I talk about small businesses, similar to a great many Americans, the majority of Americans, it is not a hypothetical. I have grown up as the son of two small business owners, seeing the hard work, the challenges of trying to run a small business. In fact, I saw my parents' business go bankrupt when I was in high school. I saw the up sides and the down sides of being in a small business. It ain't easy.
If my father had not been able to get that first job washing dishes and making 50 cents an hour, he never would have gotten his second job as a cook. If he hadn't gotten his second job, he wouldn't have gotten his third job as a teaching assistant. If he hadn't have gotten that job, he wouldn't have been hired by IBM. If he hadn't been hired by IBM, he wouldn't have started his own business.
Earlier, the Senator from Utah talked about opportunity and the American dream. When we look at a statistic, such as the fact that African-American teenage unemployment is 38.2 percent, we are talking about a generation of young people who are not getting that first job. They are not getting the equivalent today of that job of washing dishes and making 50 cents an hour. They are not getting the job of flipping burgers in the fast food business because the impact of ObamaCare on the fast food business is so devastating that it is not hiring workers. The travesty is that they do not get to flip burgers. Flipping burgers is honorable work. It is not necessarily the fulfillment of someone's life's ambition, but it is so frequently a stepping stone to the next job and the next job and the next job.
As a young kid, one of the things you have to learn is basic work skills, such as how to show up on time. A lot of teenagers are not very good at showing up on time. They don't understand how to show up on time. Even some U.S. Senators have not figured that out. Yet, if a young American doesn't get a job or learn to work with his coworkers, customers, their boss, how to show up on time, to be courteous, respectful, diligent, and responsible, he or she can't learn the skills it takes to achieve in any job.
Some time ago I tweeted a speech Ashton Kutcher gave. It was actually a terrific speech. >Tweet It was a speech at one of those award shows where he talked about the value of hard work. One of the things I remember he said was this: In my life, opportunity looks an awful lot like hard work. That was a great message. It was a great message to young people. Part of the reason I tweeted it out and to salute him--I have watched his TV shows and his movies, but I don't know him personally--was because he can speak to millions of young people who would never listen to me. I salute him for carrying a message about hard work, diligence, and working toward the American dream.
The greatest travesty of what is happening with ObamaCare is a generation of young people are being denied a fair chance at the American dream. If we look at economic growth, according to the Bureau of Economic Affairs, GDP growth over the last four quarters has been an abysmal 1.6 percent. The historic average since World War II is 3.3 percent. Our economy is stagnant, and ObamaCare is a big part of the reason.
So I ask the Presiding Officer, where is the urgency in this body? When the Presiding Officer goes home and talks to the men and women in West Virginia--or the men and women in Texas--he must hear that they are hurting. They understand that 1.6 percent economic growth is unacceptable and it is hurting the American people. Where is the urgency in this body? Where is the urgency to say: We have to stand and do something to turn it around.
Jobs are being lost because of ObamaCare. A U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey of small businesses in 2013 found that 71 percent of small businesses say ObamaCare makes it harder to hire workers. The study also found that two-thirds of small businesses are not ready to comply with ObamaCare rules.
Why do we care about small businesses? Look, on one level, we care about the entrepreneurs--the Horatio Algers and the people working toward the American dream--but even more fundamentally, small businesses produce two-thirds of the new jobs in this country. If small businesses are suffering, jobs are suffering and America suffers.
ObamaCare is an absolute disaster for small businesses. Forty-one percent of small business owners have held off on plans to hire new employees, and 38 percent say they are holding off on plans to grow their businesses in direct response to the law.
By the way, the most egregious parts of ObamaCare still have not kicked in. Forty-eight percent of small business owners say ObamaCare is bad for business. Less than 10 percent say it is good for business.
Jamie Richardson of White Castle explained how ObamaCare is impacting her business: In the 5 years prior to the health care law, we were opening an average of eight new White Castle restaurants each year. In 2013 we plan to just open two new locations. While other factors have slowed our growth, it is the mounting uncertainty surrounding the health care law that brought us to a standstill.
I want the Presiding Officer to think about that for a second. They were opening eight White Castle restaurants a year--I like their little burgers--and that dropped to two. So six a year over the last 4 years amounts to 24 White Castle restaurants. No. 1, just as a consumer--and I am a big fan of eating White Castle burgers >Tweet --that is 24 places we can't go to get a White Castle burger. But that is not the real hardship. The real hardship is all the jobs that are lost from those 24 restaurants that didn't open. Every one of those stores would have multiple shifts with managers, cashiers, or kids just mopping the floor. All those jobs would have been on the economic ladder toward the American dream.
Even within a fast food restaurant there has been tremendous opportunity for investment. Maybe you get hired mopping a floor because you don't have any other skills or, like my dad, washing dishes because you don't have any other skills. If you work a little while, maybe you can move over to the fries and then to the griddle. You can move to the cashier desk and learn how to count change. A lot of kids don't know how to count change. Sadly, because of the educational challenges we have, a lot of kids don't have the skill to count change yet. They can learn that. Then, if you demonstrate hard work, perseverance, and customer service, maybe you will get promoted to assistant manager, then manager, and then who knows.
Just a few weeks ago I had dinner with a number of franchisees who own fast food restaurants for one particular very well-known hamburger chain. I listened to their stories. I start most meetings, if they are small enough that this is feasible--like the Kerrville small business gathering--by asking them to go around and share an issue that is of a concern to them. I remember one gentleman, an African-American gentleman, who described exactly that path. He described how he got hired in an entry-level position at a fast food restaurant, developed skills, advanced, and then he was hired as an assistant manager and then as a manager. After that, he saved up and bought his own restaurant.
It was interesting. There were people--and some of the franchise owners had pretty extensive backgrounds. I think there was one fellow who had 27 fast food restaurants. So there were some people who were very successful businesspeople.
I remember this African-American gentleman who had relatively recently saved up to buy his first restaurant that he owned and the pride he justifiably felt--and the pride I felt. I mean, what an incredible country. What was interesting is that he described the exact same challenges as the fellow who owned 27 restaurants and was far wealthier and had a far bigger business.
What all of them said as we were going around the table was that ObamaCare is devastating. They didn't say it was sort of a little problem. They didn't say it was making life more difficult. They said: It is devastating. It is going to put us out of business. We don't know what to do. This is a disaster for our business.
A March 2013 Federal Reserve report on current Federal economic conditions explains that employers in several Federal Reserve districts cited the effects of the ObamaCare act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff.
In May 2013 Moody's economist Mark Zandi noted a slowdown in small business hiring due to ObamaCare.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in the second quarter of 2013 small business survey, found that Washington policies continue to hamper hiring and growth, with over a quarter of small businesses saying they had lost employees in the last year. They cited health care as the very top concern.
Concern about ObamaCare has increased by 10 points since June of 2011 and by 4 points just last quarter. Seventy-one percent of small businesses say the health care law makes it harder to hire. Only 30 percent say they are prepared for the requirements of the law--including participation in the marketplaces.
Among small businesses that will be impacted by the employer mandate, one-half of small businesses say they will either cut hours to reduce full-time employees or replace full-time employees with part-time workers to avoid the mandate. Twenty-four percent say they will reduce hiring to stay under 50 employees.
I want to repeat those numbers because those numbers are deeply troubling. Among small businesses that will be impacted by the employer mandate, one-half--50 percent--say they will either cut hours to reduce full-time employees or replace full-time employees with part-time workers to avoid the mandate. We are not talking about a few small businesses, we are talking about half of them. Twenty-four percent say they will reduce hiring to stay under 50 employees. That is a disaster for small business, it is a disaster for jobs, and it is a disaster for American families who are struggling.
The outlook for hiring remains grim. The majority--61 percent--of small businesses do not have plans to hire next year.
A Grand Rapids, MI, company reported that they had to lay off over 1,000 people due to the ObamaCare medical device tax. Let's think about that. In Grand Rapids, MI, there are 1,000 people out of a job directly because of ObamaCare. Now let's think of their spouses and their kids. One of the major breadwinners in their family lost his or her job because of ObamaCare.
On September 18, 2013, the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic announced that it would cut jobs and slash 5 to 6 percent of its $6 billion annual budget to prepare for ObamaCare. This is not just impacting fast food restaurants, this is impacting everyone. The Cleveland Clinic has a $6 billion annual budget, and yet they are forced to fire employees. The Cleveland Clinic is Cleveland's largest employer.
Every 4 years during the Presidential election, both parties purport to care passionately about what happens in the great State of Ohio. Both parties focus and descend on Ohio--and a handful of other swing States--as the center of the universe. Yet, as we sit here now in 2013--not a Presidential election--somehow the concern about what is happening to the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio has diminished. The Cleveland Clinic is Cleveland's largest employer, and it is the second largest employer in the State of Ohio after Walmart.
I would suggest that if all of the folks from this body and the political parties who descend on Ohio every 4 years are genuinely concerned about what is occurring in Ohio in a non-Presidential year we should see the floor of this Senate filled with Senators concerned about the impact ObamaCare is having directly on Cleveland and the State of Ohio.
Cleveland Clinic is responsible for 80 percent of the economic output of northeast Ohio, according to a 2009 study. It is the largest provider in Ohio of Medicaid health coverage for the poor, the program that will expand to cover uninsured Americans under ObamaCare.
The Cleveland Clinic has close to 100 locations around the State. They employ 3,000 doctors. Its main campus is recognized worldwide for its cancer and cardiovascular treatments.
(Ms. WARREN assumed the Chair.)
Madam President, some Members of this body might say: Well, these are hard times. Everyone is struggling, so maybe the Cleveland Clinic is responding to economic challenges. Who is to say what the Cleveland Clinic is doing has anything to do with ObamaCare? Well, the answer to that is, who is to say? The Cleveland Clinic is to say. A spokeswoman for the Cleveland Clinic said:
To prepare for health care reform, Cleveland Clinic is transforming the way care is delivered to patients.
She added that $330 million would be cut from the clinic's annual budget.
You want to talk about direct job losses from ObamaCare, go to Cleveland, OH, go to those working at the Cleveland Clinic, go to those depending on the Cleveland Clinic for health care, and that is one very real manifestation of the train wreck that is ObamaCare. According to the Star-Ledger, in a story printed on September 12, 2013, Barnabas Health, which employs over 19,000 people, is laying off employees. Why? Well, according to Barnabas Health, the reason is ObamaCare. According to a spokeswoman for Barnabas Health:
Healthcare reform, in combination with Medicare cuts, more patients seeking outpatient care and decreasing patient volumes--as a result, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our workforce. Decisions like this are never easy and we are working with these employees to help them look for other opportunities within the Barnabas Health system.
This is not us putting words in their mouth. This is people on the ground in the States dealing with the very real struggles and the disaster that is ObamaCare.
The problem we face in Washington is that our elected officials are not listening to us. We need to make DC listen. We need to make elected officials in both parties listen to the very real hardship that is coming from ObamaCare.
I would like to share a number of real constituent letters concerning ObamaCare. So this is not me speaking. As I said at the outset, the reason Congress is held in such disrepute, so little approval, is because for many years now elected officials in both parties have refused to listen to the people, and there is a sense of despair that no matter what the American people say, our elected officials will not listen because they are more interested in themselves, they are more interested in getting an exemption for Members of Congress from ObamaCare than they are on fixing the problem for the American people. And that level of disillusion is not irrational. It is based on a very real problem. Yet I am inspired that if and when the American people stand and make their voices heard, our politicians will have no choice but to listen.
I remember early on--Madam President, you and I are relatively new in this body. We have been here 9 months. I remember early on standing at this very desk along with my friend Senator Rand Paul in his historic 13-hour filibuster on drones. I remember when Senator Paul began that filibuster, many Members of this body viewed what he was doing as curious, if not quixotic, as a strange issue that most Members of this body, frankly, were not concerned about. We saw something incredible happen during that time, which is the American people got engaged, got involved, began speaking out, and it transformed the debate. As a result of the American people's involvement, it transformed the debate.
If you want Washington to listen, the only way that will happen is if it comes from the American people. So let me read some letters from American people who do not have the opportunity to come to the Senate floor. I hope in a very small way to provide a voice for them.
A small business from Alice, TX, wrote, on August 9, 2013:
We, the undersigned employees . . . are growing increasingly concerned with the apparent disregard for small businesses and the middle class that is on display by the United States government. We are trying to figure out how we are going to cope with the 14% increase in health insurance premiums we are facing, despite the fact that we have a lower average employee age and loss ratio than we have had at any point in our 21-year history. The increase is because of insurance companies preparing for new taxes and unreasonable requirements within ObamaCare. On top of struggling to find the means to cover our own group of employees, our government now makes it clear that part of the massive amount of taxes we pay a year will be used to cover 75% of health insurance costs for Members of Congress AND their staffers. As waivers are granted daily, shielding . . . big business, unions, government agencies, and various other Affordable Care Act supporters, it is clear the burden will rest firmly on middle class small businesses like us. . . . We strongly encourage our elected officials to place a higher importance on public service than self-service.
Let me read that sentence again: ``We strongly encourage our elected officials to place a higher importance on public service than self service.'' We are hurting badly because of this, as are many disillusioned businesses with whom we communicate in our industry. Headlines nationwide report hiring freezes and layoffs due to increased costs on businesses large and small. The weight is too heavy at the worst time, and in result the economy will soon break. We urge Congress to defund or repeal the Affordable Care Act with no further delay. . . .
That is not me speaking. That is from a small business in Alice, TX. I would note, that is not even the CEO speaking. That is a letter signed by the employees of that small business because they are hurting.
But let me note, it is not limited to the State of Texas. I guarantee you, there are people hurting in every one of the 50 States, every one of the States we represent. A commercial real estate broker from Chesapeake City, VA, wrote, on September 20, 2013:
I also wanted to share with you how ObamaCare is affecting my business. I am a commercial real estate broker in Virginia and am already feeling the effects of this disastrous bill. I am currently in the process of analyzing an apartment portfolio for sale for a client and recently the occupancy has dropped dramatically in this class C low-income community. The community is not subsidized as these tenants are paying out of pocket for the rent. Most of the tenants work in fast food, janitorial, and low paying service related jobs. A great deal of them has had their hours cut to 29.5 hours per week and cannot pay the rent. Our occupancy has dropped as well as the income. Our management company has reached into the City of Richmond for rent assistance for these tenants but to no avail. Not only are these people going to be forced into government housing but my client will realize a smaller equity harvest. This is a disaster, and it affects everyone. As you can see by this scenario, many are affected by this bill. Also, a class A franchisee with a national restaurant chain whom I represent is experiencing the pain from this bill. They are being forced to sell off to a larger franchisee because they cannot afford to comply with the requirements. I wish the American people understood how severely the economy will be impacted. Thank you for fighting the good fight. We are behind you.
Let me read again two sentences from that letter from a commercial real estate broker in Chesapeake City, VA: ``Most of the tenants work in fast food, janitorial, and low paying service related jobs. A great deal of them had their hours cut to 29.5 hours per week and cannot pay the rent.''
So they are losing their housing. I want you to think for a second about the spiral that comes from this. If you have someone who is working as a janitor, if you have someone who is working flipping burgers, if you have someone washing dishes, as my dad did, and they have their hours forcibly reduced to 29 hours a week, as so many people across this country are having happen because of ObamaCare, they cannot provide for their family on that, so they cannot pay the rent, as these people cannot. But not being able to pay the rent means some of them may move to government housing. And what is the answer? Look, they are losing their hours because of ObamaCare. The answer is not: Well, let's give them a rent subsidy. Let's tax people even more. First let's pass rules and laws and regulations that prevent people from getting decent jobs. Then let's jack up the taxes even more so we can pay them to subsidize their rent and subsidize their housing because they cannot afford to pay their rent, they cannot afford to pay their housing because of a law we passed that forcibly reduced their hours. That is the path to destruction in this country.
Far better that we get back to our founding principles, far better that we get back to what has made America great, which is our free enterprise system--a robust, free enterprise system that encourages small businesses to grow and to prosper, that encourages people working a job as a janitor to work hard and get a promotion and climb that ladder, to pay their own rent, to pay for their own food for their kids, to work and to advance.
These cries are coming from all across the country. Yet Washington is not listening. We need to make DC listen.
A small business owner from Port Clinton, OH, wrote, on September 19, 2013:
I strongly urge you to stand up for the middle class and small business and vote to DEFUND ObamaCare. As a small business owner, we have always offered health insurance. After meeting with our health insurance representative, we learned that the lowest coverage level of ObamaCare offered is estimated to be about $400 a person, twice what we pay now for excellent coverage. . . . With big business and government being exempted from this policy, again the SMALL BUSINESS OWNER and individual are left with all the costs for everyone else. This could well end up closing our business and then there will be 15 more individuals collecting from the government.
A constituent from Nacogdoches, TX, wrote, on May 29, 2013:
I need a little help here! Can you explain something to me? My health insurance premiums for my wife, three children and myself were $850 or so back in 2010. After ObamaCare was passed my premiums are now $1400 or so. This January, when ObamaCare is implemented it is estimated by Blue Cross Blue Shield I could see a 25% increase in premiums. That will be almost $1,800 a month for premiums plus on my HSA plan my deductible is $10,000. If my calculator is correct, that is $21,600 per year out of my pocket before the insurance company pays a penny. I also own a small business and have four others on our group plan. If this cost increase is across the board with the others as well, my business will stop the benefit of insurance and each will be on their own to get coverage. I understood this health care overhaul would be a benefit. From where I am sitting it is only a burden. If you can, please repeal this before it gets worse.
We are hearing these voices from Americans all over the country, both Republicans and Democrats in this body. All we need to do is listen to the people. A veterinarian from Montgomery, TX, wrote on February 20, 2013:
I would like to bring to your attention a troubling development. I am a veterinarian, and in the past had to use a group health care policy offered by the American Veterinary Medical Association. I am currently under my husband's insurance. However, a number of my colleagues use one of the various plans AVMA offers. The AVMA insurance is being canceled at the end of the year. This decision is due directly to ObamaCare. Here is the text of that notification. Group Health and Life Insurance Trust Programs and New York Life attributes the program's demise to regulatory requirements put in place as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama in 2010. Company officials told trustees that the challenges of complying with provisions of the law that take effect in 2014 are the primary reason New York Life opted to quit the association health insurance market entirely. New York Life has underwritten the American Veterinarian Medical Association Trust medical coverage for the past 20 years. A number of veterinarians are contract labor, called relief veterinarians. These vets contract out on a daily or weekly basis to fill in for doctors at various clinics when someone takes a vacation or during seasonal business increases. Many of those vets do not have access to health care in any other way. This is a travesty. Perfectly good plans are being discontinued due to a perfectly awful law. This health care law is directly contributing to people losing their health care. My husband and I made long-term plans to potentially retire early and use an AVMA plan until eligible for Medicare. We also had the safety net of the AVMA insurance if something happened with this job. For me, AVMA's decision is currently an inconvenience. However, it removes an option for me in the future. My colleagues on the other hand will likely be forced into inferior health care or pay penalties through no fault of their own.
We all remember President Obama told the American people: If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it. Even in these cynical days of politics, promises should mean something. For this woman and her husband, that promise is a hollow failure. She is losing her health insurance because of ObamaCare. That is not me saying that, not some politician saying that. That is from her own words.
The rules of the Senate will not allow her or any other small business owner to walk onto the Senate floor and speak out, to say: Why am I losing my health insurance? Why am I struggling? Why is my business going under? So I am doing my very best to in some small way help provide a voice for those people who are struggling, those people who are hurting.
But if this body were operating the way it should, there should be 100 voices; 100 of us, Democrats and Republicans, should be standing side by side reading letter after letter like this. You know what. These are our bosses. These are the people we work for. They are struggling.
These letters I am reading are not ideological letters. They are not coming from a partisan perspective. They are people who are seeing on the ground this law is not working.
Yet DC does not listen to them. The Democrats in this body tell America: ObamaCare is great. ObamaCare is terrific. I am sorry you lost your health care, but ObamaCare is terrific. The Republicans in this body, sadly more than a few of them, say: We will take lots and lots of symbolic votes against ObamaCare, but there is nothing we can do. If every Republican Senator stands together and votes no on cloture this Friday or Saturday, there is something we can do. We can stand and say: We are listening to the American people. This law is not working and people are suffering.
They are not interested in political games. They are not interested in show votes. They are not interested in the fact that if the majority leader succeeds in cutting off debate on this bill and there is a 51-vote threshold on an amendment to fund ObamaCare, at that point every Republican will happily vote no. That may be solicited from the personal political perspectives of the Republicans in this body, but it does not benefit the American people one iota. It does not benefit the American people. It does not stop ObamaCare. It does not fix the problem. That is what we should be doing.
A constituent from Euless, TX, wrote on July 3, 2013:
I have been disabled since 1997 and on a fixed income. My wife lost her job of 16 years in 2008 and was not able to find a good job so she was forced to take her Social Security last year at age 62. She is 41-year type I diabetic and her medical costs are expensive. Luckily, I was paying for medical and long-term disability insurance when I was working, which allowed me to continue the medical insurance with a company even after I became disabled. I got a letter in May of this year informing me that I was going to lose that medical coverage come 2014. Since we are both on a fixed income, it will be impossible for us to maintain our mortgage and to start paying for all of our health costs. Repeal ObamaCare.
These are voices from the people. This is a disabled man, a senior couple who is suffering, who is losing their health insurance because of ObamaCare. Every one of us has an obligation to listen to people.
Look, I understand in Washington, in a football game we all cheer for our respective team. I cheer when the Houston Texans win a game. I am not generally thrilled, having grown up in Houston in the 1970s, when the Pittsburgh Steelers win a game, because I remember as a kid year after year seeing the Steelers sadly trounce the Oilers and the great Earl Campbell when the Steelers had one of the greatest football teams ever to play the game. I understand that. It is a good thing to cheer for your team.
In politics sometimes we cheer for our team too. So I understand the great many Democrats who take the view: Well, a Democratic President signed the law, Democrats passed the law on a straight party vote so we have got to cheer for our team. You know, I will note that more than a few Democratic Members of this body privately, when they are behind closed doors, are worried about what is happening to ObamaCare. They are seeing the problems. But yet publicly they are still cheering for their team.
This is not a team sport. This is life and death. There is a fundamental divide between the people and Washington. We need to make DC listen, listen to the people.
Mr. PAUL. Would the Senator yield for a question?
Mr. CRUZ. I am happy to yield for a question without yielding the floor.
Mr. PAUL. You know, Senators do not always ask for advice from other Senators. I thought I would come down and make sure the Senator had comfortable shoes on, make sure he is getting enough to eat--try not to eat on television. That is a little free advice that sometimes shows up.
But my question relates to ObamaCare. I think the Senator has done a good job of bringing attention to something I think is going to be a real tragedy for the country. As we get involved with this, there is so much talk about tactics and this or that, whether now is the right time, when is the right time to do this, but I think the question is, do we need to talk about something that is going to affect 16 percent of our economy, one-sixth of our economy? Do we need to bring up an issue? Do we need to draw attention and try to stop something that could be damaging to the people precisely it is intended to help?
I think it is personally not a good idea to shut down government. I think it is also, though, not a good idea to fund ObamaCare. Can they both go together? Can you do one without the other? Some, like the President, have said: Oh, Republicans, they just want 100 percent of what they want or they are going to shut down government.
Well, can you say something so patently false and get away with it, is my question. The President wants 100 percent of what he wants. He wants ObamaCare as he passed it with only Democrats. He wants it never to be changed. He wants no compromise. He wants what he wants or he is willing to shut down the government. That is what this debate is about.
ObamaCare was passed with only Democrats, no Republican input, no Republican votes. When people are saying there are problems, his own people are saying there are problems. The Teamsters have said there is a problem. Authors of the bill are saying it is a train wreck. The former President came out this week and said: It is going to hurt the people it was intended to help.
So we have got all of these people saying: For goodness sakes, slow this train down. Stop this train. Stop this train wreck of ObamaCare. All everybody cries about is: Oh, somebody wants to shut down the government. The President does not want to compromise.
What we are talking about is, we do not want to spend money on something that is not going to work and hurt the people--precisely the people it was intended to help. But the thing is, how do we fix it? What do we do? Can we scrap the whole thing? Well, the Democrats control one body, we control the other body, they control the Presidency.
Historically what would happen, and what I think the American people would like to see is, we stand up, as the Senator from Texas is, and say what we are for. We are for a different solution. We are for competition. We are for the free markets. We are for bringing health care to everyone with a lower price. We went through this whole debacle of giving people ObamaCare and it is going to be expensive. Everybody is going to pay more.
Many people still will not have insurance. The ones who do have insurance are going to pay more. So what would we like? Why are we here today? Why is the Senator from Texas here today? To say to the President: We need to talk. What does the President say? He says: My way or the highway.
When the American people said they want dialog between Republicans and Democrats, how do we get there? We have to stand for what we believe in so they will come and talk. Does it mean we are going to get 100 percent of what we want? No. But if we do not stand for what we believe, how will we have any dialog? How will we get to compromise? How do we get them to talk to us? We are not asking for 100 percent of what we want, but we are asking for a dialog. How do we get the dialog unless someone is willing to stand and say: Enough is enough. When we look at this, if we want to ever get to the point of getting to compromise, the only way we get there is by standing and saying we believe in this.
It isn't about us demanding 100 percent of what we want. But right now, if you look at this objectively, the President is getting 100 percent of what he wants--ObamaCare passed only by Democrats, not one Republican vote. Really, how do we get to what the American people want, which is dialog and compromise? We have to look at a deadline. We have a deadline.
My question to the Senator from Texas is whether he wants to shut down the government. Is that his intention or is it the President's intention to shut down the government or is it that perhaps when deadlines come forward, that is a good time for dialog because no one ever seems to talk at any other time?
I would ask the Senator from Texas, what are his intentions? Does he want to shut down the government or would he like to find something to make ObamaCare less bad? I know we would both like to repeal it, but would the Senator accept anything in between?
Mr. CRUZ. I thank the Senator from Kentucky for his very fine question. Let me say at the outset before I respond directly to the question that I remember not too many months ago standing on this same Senate floor in the midst of the Senator's historic filibuster. I will say it was one of the proudest moments of my life. Indeed, during that filibuster on drones, that was the first time I had ever spoken on the Senate floor.
I have observed multiple times that I will go to my grave in debt to Rand Paul, to have the opportunity for the first time--and there will only be one first time that anyone gets to speak on this floor--to have that first time be in support of that tremendous filibuster that mobilized and unified the American people.
I will note that one of the things I remember the Senator shared with me afterward was the advice he just gave a minute ago. I remember asking: What do you think? The Senator was pretty weary at the end. His comment at the time was, well, I wish I had worn more comfortable shoes. I will confess I thought about that. That struck me as pretty good advice.
I am going to make an embarrassing admission right now. I will get to the question in a second, but I wanted to make an embarrassing admission first. For many years, when I was in private practice and when I was solicitor general, I wore a particular pair of boots, my argument boots. They were black ostrich boots. Litigators are kind of superstitious, so anytime I went into court to argue a case I wore my argument boots. I had them resoled four or five times.
When I had the great honor of serving in this body, of being sworn into the Senate, when I was sworn in standing on the steps just in front of us, I wore my argument boots. I have worn them every day since. I don't believe there has been a day on this Senate floor that I haven't worn my argument boots. >Tweet
I had a choice with which I was confronted, which was do I follow through and wear my argument boots or do I listen to the very sage counsel from my friend from Kentucky and go with more comfortable shoes. I will embarrassingly admit that I took the coward's way out. I went and purchased some black tennis shoes. >Tweet Actually, I think they are the same model the senior Senator from Utah Orrin Hatch wears on a regular basis. I am not in my argument boots, and I will confess I do feel pretty embarrassed by that. I am pretty sure, since we are on the Senate floor and C-SPAN is covering it, that this may not be covered by the priest-penitent privilege, but I do feel it is a question of sorts.
The question Senator Rand Paul asked was an excellent question. His question was whether I or anyone here wishes to shut down the government. The answer is absolutely not. We should not shut down the government. We should fund every bit of the government, every aspect of the government, 100 percent of the government except for ObamaCare. That is what the House of Representatives did. The House of Representatives--232 Members of the House, including 2 Democrats--voted to fund every bit of the Federal Government, 100 percent of it, except for ObamaCare.
I would note that last night on the floor of the Senate, I asked the majority leader to consent to passing the continuing resolution the House passed, passing it into law. Had the majority leader not stood there and said: I object, the continuing resolution would be passed into law and the government would not be shutting down. The majority leader had every opportunity to not shut down the government.
Let me be absolutely clear. We should not shut down the government. I sincerely hope Senator Reid and President Obama do not choose to force a government shutdown simply to force ObamaCare on the American people. That would be a mistake. Instead, what we should do is listen to the American people. Make DC listen.
Mr. PAUL. Would the Senator yield for one quick question?
Mr. CRUZ. I am happy to yield for a quick question without yielding the floor.
Mr. PAUL. Since we are making it clear, the Republican message and alternative here is not to shut down the government; our desire is to have no ObamaCare. We desire not to have it. We think he went in the wrong direction. But we don't control the government. We don't control the government. We don't control the Senate. It is controlled by the opposition party. We don't control the Presidency.
My question to the Senator is, If he can't get everything he wants, if he can't defund ObamaCare, which is exactly what he and I both agree on, and millions of people across America want us to get rid of ObamaCare, if the Senator can't, if he stands today and argues and cannot get rid of it, will he accept a compromise? Will he work with the President and will he work with the majority leader if they are willing to come and say: You know, you are right. We messed up on a bunch of this. There are a lot of people who are going to be hurt by ObamaCare. A lot of part-time workers are going to lose their jobs or are going to lose hours. There are going to be real workers who are full time who are going to lose their insurance or lose their jobs. Is the Senator willing to work with us? Is he willing to work with the leader, Senator Reid, and with the President to find a compromise?
Mr. CRUZ. I thank the Senator from Kentucky for that question. I think it is a very good question.
This afternoon the Senator and I and all the Republican Members of the conference spent some 2 hours in a closed-door strategy session. I am not going to reveal what anyone else said there, but I certainly feel comfortable revealing what I said there, which is that if we are going to make real progress in solving the problem that is ObamaCare, in listening to the American people and mitigating the job losses, with people losing their health insurance, all of the harms that are coming from ObamaCare, we have to stand and fight right now.
The battle before this body is the cloture vote that will occur on Friday or Saturday of this week. If all 46 Republicans vote together in unity to support the House Republicans and to deny Majority Leader Reid the ability to fund ObamaCare on a straight party-line vote, that puts us in a position to address the problem.
The Senator's question was would I vote for something less than defunding ObamaCare. Personally, no. Why? Because I have committed publicly over and over to the American people that I will not vote for a continuing resolution that funds one penny of ObamaCare.
I am reminded of when I first arrived in the Senate. I spent 2 years campaigning for the Senator from Kentucky. Senator Paul campaigned with me in Texas over and over.
If you want to talk about a rock star, you should see, when Rand Paul shows up in Texas, the huge number of fans who come out for Senator Paul and for his dad.
I spent 2 years campaigning in Texas saying: The first bill I will introduce in Congress will be a bill to repeal ObamaCare.
When I showed up, there were lots of reporters. I introduced the bill to repeal ObamaCare.
They immediately said: Well, why did you do that?
My response: Well, I spent 2 years campaigning telling the American people that would be first bill I would introduce.
They were utterly befuddled why anyone would actually do what they said.
In answer to the Senator's question of whether I will vote for something that is a middle ground that funds ObamaCare partially, no. Why? Because, as I have repeatedly told the American people, as I have told Texas, I will not vote for a continuing resolution that funds ObamaCare. But that being said, are there Members of our conference who would like to see a compromise, who would like to see a middle ground that is perhaps not what I very much want and will fight for with every ounce of strength I have but that mitigates some of the damage of ObamaCare, that responds to the people who are suffering from ObamaCare, I think there are quite a few Senators who would like to see that happen.
If Republicans roll over on the cloture vote on Friday or Saturday, if we allow the majority leader to fund ObamaCare with 51 votes, we will get no compromise. >Tweet There will be no middle ground because there will be no reason to compromise. It is much like a poker game. I know the Senator from Kentucky--many of his libertarian supporters enjoy a good game of poker. As a Texan, I will admit to not being entirely adverse to it myself. In a game of poker, if somebody makes a bet and then says to you ``if you raise me, I am going to fold,'' you will lose 100 percent of your poker games. That is a path to losing.
For those Members of the Republican caucus who were perhaps not as adamant that we should insist on a complete and total defund now, I don't intend to waiver from that position, but there may be others who disagree.
If you want to get to any middle ground that is not a symbolic vote to tell our constituents but that actually changes the law to make things better for the men and women at home, to mitigate the harms of ObamaCare, the only way to do so is for Republicans to stand united and to deny the majority leader the ability to fund ObamaCare on a 51-vote partisan vote.
Mr. ROBERTS. Would the courageous Senator from Texas yield for a question?
Mr. CRUZ. I yield for a question without yielding the floor.
Mr. ROBERTS. Let me ask the Senator a question to cut to the chase. Let's get to the bottom line. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, our respected leader of the Senate, Harry Reid, because of his position, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, and President Barack Obama have all said publicly that the Affordable Care Act is the first step to a single-payer system. Listen to the folks on the other side of the aisle, and many of them say the same thing.
We can call it a single-payer system, we can call it national health insurance, but is this not the first step toward socialized health care--socialized health care--and is stopping socialized health care worth pulling out all of the stops and fighting the fight?
Mr. CRUZ. I thank my friend from Kansas for that very fine question. He is exactly right. Socialized medicine is--and has been everywhere it has been implemented in the world--a disaster. ObamaCare--its intended purpose is to lead us unavoidably down that path.
I thank the Senator from Kansas for his good question on that front and for his leadership.
I would note that there are some Republicans, some commentators who have said: Don't fight this fight. Don't fight to defund. Why? Because ObamaCare is going to collapse on its own weight. If we just stay quiet, we don't take any risks. Give it time; it is getting worse and worse. Stay out of the way; it is going to collapse on its own weight. And there is both truth and falsity in that prediction. There is no doubt that ObamaCare is going to collapse. But the problem is that the way it will collapse, if it is implemented, is likely to permanently damage the private health insurance system, which will result in millions of people losing their health insurance and having no ability to go back. That is what enables Majority Leader Reid to go on television and say: Fear not, this will lead us to single-payer government health care. Because when ObamaCare collapses in shambles--he doesn't say this, but this is the necessary reasoning that leads him to this--it will take down the private health insurance business with it, so there will be nothing left.
Listen, I commend the majority leader for his candor. I mean, there is a degree of courage in embracing socialized medicine. There are a number of Members of the Democratic caucus who embrace socialized medicine. I think every one of them shows courage and candor. I am very happy to debate in great detail whether socialized medicine would be good or bad for this Nation.
I don't think the American people are conflicted. If you look at the nations that have socialized medicine, everyplace it has been implemented you see low quality, you see scarcity, you see waiting periods, and you see government bureaucrats getting between you and your doctor. If you go in for government treatment, you may be told that you are going to have to wait 6 months, you are going to have to wait a year or, you know what. A bureaucrat in the ministry of whatchamacallit has determined you don't get that treatment. That is what has happened in every socialized medicine country in the world. And so to those on the Republican side, those commentators who say this is a risky fight, I have never once suggested this is an easy fight. But in my 42 years on Earth, I have yet to see any fight thatis worthwhile that is easy. In his years as a marine, I would venture to guess that Senator Roberts never saw a fight that mattered that was easy. None of us were elected to this body to do easy things.
If the majority leader is right, that leaving ObamaCare alone will necessarily lead us to socialized medicine because private health insurance will collapse--ObamaCare will collapse--and there will be nothing left, what a call to urgency. Indeed, I would say the majority leader, in making that argument, should be one of the most effective spokespersons for saying we ought to have 46 Republicans uniting and voting against cloture on this bill to say: No, we are not going to let a partisan Democrat vote fund ObamaCare because we are not going to be complicit in any way, shape or form with destroying private health insurance and forcing Americans into socialized medicine.
Let me note that in the meantime, even for those who somewhat serenely say: Fear not; this is going to collapse on its own. The process will inevitably be painful. Just a few minutes ago I read a letter from a constituent from Euless, TX, who is disabled and on a fixed income, whose wife has retired and who has lost his insurance because of ObamaCare. There are millions of Americans in Kansas, in Kentucky, in Alabama, in Texas, and in States all over this country who are worried right now because their health insurance is in jeopardy. In my view the decision of some Members of the Senate to say: Well, let ObamaCare collapse--either on the Republican side because when it collapses it will all just magically go away, or on the Democratic side because when it collapses it will lead us all to the perfect utopia of socialized medicine--is easy. It is easy for Members of this body to say such things from the cheap seats, particularly when the President has granted an exemption to Members of Congress from ObamaCare, where they feel that if the system collapses, if millions of Americans are suffering, it is not going to be us. It is not going to be our staff. The President has carved us out for special rules. It is just going to be the American people.
The most fundamental divide that is happening here is this body has stopped listening to the American people. We ought to have the urgency for this man and woman in Euless, TX, who is disabled and on a fixed income and retired and who wants to keep his health insurance, that we have for ourselves and our staffs. We ought to have that kind of urgency. And you know what. If it were our wife or our husband's health insurance, we wouldn't say: Let the system collapse because, in time, there will be a political victory. I guarantee if it were our spouse's, if it were our daughter's or son's health insurance, particularly if they had significant health issues, not one of us would be serene in saying: Let it collapse, because we want to immunize ourselves from the criticism or because we want to ultimately move to socialized medicine.
I think the stakes have never been higher. In my view, the cloture vote we will take on either Friday or Saturday of this week is the most important vote that I will have taken >Tweet --I think that any Member of the Senate will have taken--in the 9 months I have served in this body because it goes fundamentally to: Will we respond to the suffering ObamaCare is causing? Will we respond to the millions of people who are jobless? Will we respond to the people getting forced into part-time work? Will we respond to the people who are losing their health care or will we continue to say: For me but not for thee. Different rules apply to Washington that apply to the ruling class. The President can grant exemptions to the big corporations and to Members of Congress, but hardworking American families, you guys are left in the cold. I would suggest that is a fundamental abdication of our responsibility. We are here--or we should be here--fighting for the people.
Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, will the Senator yield for a question?
Mr. CRUZ. I am happy to yield for a question without yielding the floor.
Mr. SESSIONS. By chance, or maybe because of the significance of it, my first question is very similar to what Senator Roberts had asked, because I have given a lot of thought to this. I haven't signed letters. I haven't said how I was going to vote on this issue. But it was called to my attention that Senator Reid, the majority leader, flatly stated a month ago he believed in a single-payer system.
They asked him: Is it the Senator's goal to move toward a single-payer system? And his answer is: yes, yes, absolutely yes.
I just left the Budget Committee hearing. We have a great team there, on the Republican and Democrat side, and my friend Sheldon Whitehouse and I had a little exchange about the new health care law, and I thought he was suggesting it wasn't much of a change. So I asked him this, I said: The majority leader said he favors a single-payer system. He said: I do too.
It wasn't long ago in the Budget Committee that Senator Bernie Sanders also said he favored a single-payer system. And Senator Roberts mentioned others. And of course the President did. I checked the President's quote from 2003. He has denied it since, when he was trying to get the votes to pass the new law, but in 2003 he said he was a proponent of a ``single-payer universal health system.''
I think this is a huge national issue. This new health care law is clearly driven by an agenda: to have a single payer. So I ask Senator Cruz: If there is a single payer, who will the payer be?
Mr. CRUZ. The payer is always the government, which ultimately means the taxpayer, hardworking American families.
Mr. SESSIONS. In other words, the Federal Government?
Mr. CRUZ. I will continue to yield for a question without yielding the floor.
Mr. SESSIONS. Let me ask this. In other words, the government is going to be the one that pays for everything. In health care in America there will be only one payer, the government, and it would then, since it is a predominant power, be able to dictate health policy, such as in the socialized medical systems that have failed around the world; would it not?
Mr. CRUZ. The Senator is absolutely correct. Once the government is paying for health care, it controls health care. That has proven to be the case in every country in the world.
I agree with the Senator from Alabama that it is commendable that there are some Members of this body who openly embrace socialized medicine. That is commendable for candor. I don't agree with it as a policy matter, but I actually think there is virtue to speaking honestly about what it is you support and not occupying the middle ground, as those--to take a quote from Teddy Roosevelt slightly out of context--cold, timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
One of the problems in this debate over ObamaCare is the relatively few who are candid about what ObamaCare is designed to do. It is worth noting, as Senator Sessions has, that Majority Leader Reid is not a passive observer from the sidelines. He is the man responsible, in his role as majority leader, for passing ObamaCare through this body with only Democratic votes--without a single Republican vote. So when he says it is designed to lead to a single-payer system, when he says it is designed to lead to socialized medicine, we should trust that he knows what he is talking about.
Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, if the Senator will yield again for a question.
Mr. CRUZ. I am happy to yield for a question without yielding the floor.
Mr. SESSIONS. And is it not true--since Senator Reid has made his position crystal clear ideologically, and based on the actions the Senator from Texas and I have observed--that he has steadfastly resisted any change whatsoever in the legislation as passed, certainly any change that would constrict its power and reach?
Mr. CRUZ. I think Senator Sessions is exactly correct.
If we look at the way this vote is set up, Republicans are being asked to vote with majority leader Harry Reid to shut off debate on this bill. Any Republican who votes yes on Friday or Saturday to invoke cloture will be voting alongside majority leader Harry Reid to give Leader Reid the authority to fund ObamaCare using just 51 votes on a straight party-line vote, which is exactly how ObamaCare passed in the first place.
At the same time the majority leader has made clear he is not going to allow other amendments. He is not going to allow amendments that would improve ObamaCare or fix ObamaCare. He is not going to allow the amendment of Senator Vitter, as we talked about earlier, that would correct or get rid of the congressional exemption and treat Members of Congress the same as the American people, get rid of President Obama's lawless exemption, and stop treating Members of Congress like a privileged ruling class who are different from the American people. Leader Reid has said he is not going to allow a vote on that, not going to allow a vote on repealing the medical devices tax that has been crippling the medical devices industry, and that is killing innovation and killing jobs.
If Republicans are complicit in shutting off debate and allowing just a single vote on funding ObamaCare, then we have only ourselves to blame. If we give the majority leader the power to do that, we should not be surprised when he exercises it. It is within the power of the 46 Republicans in this body to say no, to say: No, we will not shut off debate that allows the majority leader to use 51 votes to fund ObamaCare on a straight party-line partisan Democratic vote. We will not be complicit in a process that treats Members of Congress like a privileged ruling class and that ignores the cries for help from the American people. All we have to do to accomplish that is for Republicans to stand together and stand united.
It is my hope, my fervent hope, that the voices of dissension within the Republican conference will stop firing at each other and start firing at the target. And let me be clear who the target is. The target is not Democrats. I don't want us to start firing at Democrats or at the President or at anyone else. It is not about us. The target is ObamaCare. It is fixing this train wreck that is hurting the American people.
If Members of the Republican conference in the Senate could devote one-tenth of the ferocity they have devoted to fighting within the caucus on this issue, to actually stopping ObamaCare--not a symbolic vote, not a press release, not a speech, but actually fixing the problem--I could think of nothing better this Senate could do.
And you know what. If, instead of 100 Senators, this Chamber had 100 citizens picked from our States at random, I guarantee not a one of them would say in discussing this: You know what we need is a bunch of symbolic votes. They wouldn't say that. Regular people who live on planet Earth would know a symbolic vote is not a good thing or bad thing. They would say, if we grabbed any hundred--and I wouldn't even have a partisan screen on it. I would grab 100 people at random, and I guarantee you they would say: We have to fix ObamaCare. This thing is hurting people.
The problem is too many Members of this body are not listening, and we need to make DC listen.
Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, without yielding the floor, will the Senator yield for a further question?
Mr. CRUZ. I am happy to yield for a question without yielding the floor.
Mr. SESSIONS. I notice a real low number of jobs being created this year. And the reports were that 77 percent of those jobs created this year were part-time, not full-time jobs.
Allan Meltzer, one of the great economists in the last 50 years, a knowledgeable observer of our economy, just testified in a Budget Committee maybe 3 hours ago that ObamaCare was a factor in that occurring.
Would the Senator agree that we have had this extraordinary increase in part-time jobs rather than full-time jobs, and that is hammering working Americans who need full-time work?
Mr. CRUZ. Senator Sessions is absolutely right. One of the most devastating consequences of ObamaCare is that it is forcing so many Americans into part-time work. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce 2013 second quarter small business survey found that among small businesses that will be impacted by the employer mandate, 50 percent of small businesses say they will either cut out to reduce full-time employees or replace full-time employees with part-time employees to avoid the mandate, and 24 percent say they will reduce hiring to stay under 50 employees.
As Senator Sessions knows, this is not one isolated anecdote here or there. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this is 50 percent of small businesses reducing employees' hours forcibly or just hiring part-time employees instead. This is an enormous problem. Who gets hurt? When someone gets their hours reduced to 29 hours a week, it is never the CEO. It is usually not the lawyers. It is usually not the professionals. It is absolutely never Senators and Members of Congress.
The people whose hours get forcibly reduced are almost always, without exception, the vulnerable among us. They are the young, they are the Hispanics, the African Americans, the single mom working in a diner, struggling to feed her kids, to be a good example to her kids, who suddenly finds instead of having one job where she works her fingers to the bones to take care of her kids, she has to get two because 29 hours a week is not enough to provide for her kids. Suddenly she has two jobs, both at 29 hours a week. She has to commute from one to the other. She has to deal with two bosses. Boss No. 1 says: I want you at work Tuesday morning. Boss No. 2 says: I want you at work Tuesday morning. What is a single mom supposed to do?
Earlier this afternoon I read from a constituent's letter talking about low-income housing in Virginia, where a significant percentage of the residents were janitorial or service industry workers and were paying their rent out of their own pocket. Because of ObamaCare, because of having their hours reduced, they weren't able to pay the rent. I will read two sentences from a constituent letter from a commercial real estate broker in Chesapeake City, VA. Most of the tenants work in fast food, janitorial, and low-
paying service-related jobs. A great deal of them had their hours cut to 29.5 hours per week and cannot pay the rent.
So they are losing their apartments and being forced to live elsewhere. This is a tragedy playing out across this country, and it is incumbent on this body to listen to the people. We need to make DC listen.
Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, will the Senator yield for a question without yielding the floor?
Mr. CRUZ. I will yield for a question without yielding the floor.
Mr. SESSIONS. I know the Senator is aware that the number of people employed in the workforce today has fallen to the lowest level since 1975 and wages have declined. We learned today in our Budget Committee hearing we have had a surge from around 300,000 people working part-time to 1 million.
These are bad trends, but one place has avoided that; that is, the Washington, DC, area. It has had more job growth, higher income job growth than any place in America.
If this bill becomes entrenched into law, will it not create a huge additional increase of government workers and bureaucrats in and around this city, all riding on the backs of American workers?
Mr. CRUZ. The Senator from Alabama is absolutely correct. One of the disturbing trends we have seen in recent years is the boom business in our economy is government. There are lots of consequences to that; one is that the best and the brightest learn, hey, you want to have success, go into government. The private sector? That is apparently not what America is about.
Look right now at government employees who are paid substantially more than their counterparts in the private sector. It is one of the reasons Senator Vitter's amendment would say that Members of Congress shall be subject to the same rules as the American people and not have the special exemption President Obama has put in place is so important and why I support an even broader amendment that would include all Federal employees on the ObamaCare exchanges.
Our friends on the Democratic side of the aisle routinely say ObamaCare is terrific, it is great. If that is the case, then Members of Congress should be excited about being on those exchanges, which are apparently so great for our constituents, and so should Federal workers. But they are not, indeed, as the Senator from Alabama knows well.
This issue has caused more consternation among Members and congressional staff than probably any other issue because people are quite rightly afraid of losing their health insurance and losing their coverage.
That concern is not irrational. There are many good public servants, congressional staffers who are Federal employees, even who are Members of the Senate. It is not irrational at all for them to be concerned about losing their health insurance and forced onto poor-quality health insurance. But that desire shouldn't push us to say let's exempt them. We don't want to be subject to it. That desire should push us to fight for hard-working American families. That desire should say: If we don't want to be on the exchanges, let's not make anyone else be on them. That divide between Washington--the ruling class--and the American people is the most significant reason for the disillusion we see.
The view from Americans all over this country--and this is true of conservatives and liberals--is that Washington doesn't listen. Politicians don't listen. We just had an August recess. A significant number of Members of this body held no townhalls, didn't go back and listen to their constituents. You can't fault Americans for saying politicians don't listen to us when, in fact, politicians don't listen to us. That is what this fight is about.
If it is just up to Washington, we are not going to have to do anything to stop ObamaCare. For one thing, Members of Congress and their staff are exempted so there is no urgency. But if we listen to the American people, there is urgency. That is why it is so critical that we make DC listen.
Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, if the Senator would yield for another question.
Mr. CRUZ. I would be happy to yield for a question without yielding the floor.
Mr. SESSIONS. I know the Senator is aware that Senator Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee, a long-time Senator who I believe has announced he is not going to run again but shepherded this legislation through the Senate and worked in many ways to try to make it better--lost some battles in that time--has referred to this as a ``train wreck'' because there are so many things going wrong right now. Did the Senator hear that from him?
It seems to me we are at a point where we have to push hard. That is the conclusion I have come to, and I will ask the Senator's opinion. It seems to me we are at a position where we need to push hard to force discussion of this legislation because the majority leader wants to make it even bigger government, to take it even further. He is blocking and going to resist any attempt to have real debate, real amendments being offered. He will not allow votes, and he is going to fill the tree and otherwise dominate the Senate so we can't even have the classic debate and amendments and votes to improve this train wreck of a law.
Is that the way the Senator sees the situation we are in today?
Mr. CRUZ. Senator Sessions is absolutely correct. I would note, first of all, the Senate Democrat who is the lead author of ObamaCare has referred to ObamaCare's implementation as ``a major train wreck.'' That is not I speaking. That is not Senator Sessions speaking. That is the lead author of ObamaCare, a Democratic Senator.
I commend his candor. It is indeed a major train wreck. I have no doubt that more than a few of his colleagues on that side of the aisle were unhappy with him for speaking the truth on that.
There should be a lot more truth-speaking in this body, not engaging in partisan team politics but speaking the truth for the American people. That was commendable for Senator Baucus to speak for the American people and say this is a major train wreck. We need to all acknowledge it is a major train wreck and then step forward to avert the train wreck.
Senator Sessions' second point is a very important one. I note Senator Sessions is an elder statesman in this body, has served admirably a great many years, fighting for the citizens of Alabama, and is well experienced when a day a time existed when the Senate operated like a deliberative body, where Senators would speak and offer amendments and amendments could be considered. That doesn't occur now.
The practice Senator Sessions referred to, and I suspect some folks may not be familiar with, is called filling the tree. Filling the tree has become commonplace. Filling the tree is a procedural and parliamentary tree that only the majority leader can do. The majority leader has a privileged role under the Senate rules in that he has priority of recognition, the ability to insist he is the first Senator on the floor to be recognized.
Filling the tree enables him to do what he has said he is going to do on this bill, which is file an amendment to fund ObamaCare in its entirety and then fill the tree so no other Senator can offer any amendments, so the other 99 Senators are muzzled, we can't offer amendments to improve ObamaCare, we can't offer amendments to fix ObamaCare, and we can't offer amendments to do anything. Indeed, the more liberal Members of the Democratic caucus can't offer amendments to adopt a single-payer socialized medicine system, which some of them openly embrace. That is a sign of a Senate that is not working.
There should be open debate and there should be open amendments. One of the great strengths of this body is that all 100 Senators for most of the history of the Republic could offer any amendment at virtually any time. That has all but disappeared. Why has it disappeared?
For folks who are at home watching this debate, it is easy to let the procedure make your eyes glaze over. When you hear someone talk about invoking cloture on the motion to proceed, it is utterly incomprehensible to virtually anyone in the country. Indeed, I suspect more than a few people on the floor of the Senate right now don't quite understand what it means.
But what is all the procedure about? Why should you care about filling the tree? You should care about it because it is a tool of power, of silencing the people, and using the positions of power to enforce Washington's ideological view on the rest of this country.
If we got out of Washington, DC, if we went to the American people and said what are your top priorities--we actually have. We don't have to hypothesize about that. The American people over and over again say jobs and the economy are their top priorities. The American people want ObamaCare stopped because it is not working, it is killing jobs, it is pushing people into part-time work. Yet this Senate has not been listening to the American people.
We need to make DC listen.
Mr. SESSIONS. Madam President, will the Senator yield for a question?
Mr. CRUZ. I am happy to yield for a question without yielding the floor.
Mr. SESSIONS. I would also observe, and the Senator probably is aware, it does appear there is a budget point of order against this whole continuing resolution. I want to mention a couple of things.
I want to thank the Senator for having the courage to stand here and raise the concerns I am hearing all over my State. I had three separate meetings in August, as I traveled the State, with small business groups. It is difficult to overstate the concerns they have with this law. They tell me without a doubt it is impacting their willingness to hire and the uncertainty in the workplace is damaging business in America, and they are passionate about it.
They are struggling to get by. They are laying off people and they are not happy about it. They say this law alone is the primary thing that is hammering them in this country. I have given a lot of thought to it. I am beginning to see that we have to use the opportunities we have to confront this issue and talk about it and try to force some changes and improvements.
I appreciate the effort, and I am going to support the Senator. I am going to oppose any advancing of the final bill that does not provide some change in ObamaCare.
I did not sign the letter, and have some great friends who see it differently than I do who likewise are totally opposed to the health care law. I want to be sure people who are listening need to know good people, I think, can disagree on this. But the Senator stood up and raised the question and forced us to confront it and talk about it and I think it is good. I intend to support him. I am not going to vote to move a bill where we are sure we are going to be blocked from having any meaningful discussion on one of the most historic, damaging laws in maybe the last hundred years that would basically move us to single-payer, government-run socialized medicine. I think that is where we are heading.
I thank the Senator for his leadership. Hopefully we can begin to force this Senate to act. The House has already acted. They have repeatedly acted to fix this legislation, because it is so damaging. But the Senate, the Democratic Senate, refuses to act. It refuses to listen. That is the problem I have. One way I have to express that is to support the position the Senator has taken.
I thank him very much and wish him good luck.
Mr. CRUZ. I thank the Senator from Alabama for his question and fundamentally for his support. His support is very needed. Senator Sessions is a man who is respected in this body. He commands the respect of his peers.
If you read the newspapers, the votes have already been decided. If you watch the TV commentators, I read one newspaper article--it was actually styled a news article--that talked about the ``effort to defund ObamaCare, which is doomed to fail.''
That was the lead, the opening line of what purported to be an objective news article. A lot of folks in official Washington and the Washington establishment have said there is no way this can happen.
Three weeks ago they said there is no way the House is going to vote to defund ObamaCare. Three weeks ago you read it was impossible, cannot happen, will not happen. Yet on Friday the House voted overwhelmingly to defund ObamaCare.
This week it is all the same pundits. A funny thing: Everyone who said it is impossible in the House--apparently there are no consequences for their being proved laughingly, totally, completely wrong. And they all come out with the same certainty, the same deep baritone voices, to say it is impossible that the votes will be there in the Senate. Republicans will not stand together.
Let me point to just a minute ago. Senator Jeff Sessions who, as he knows, was not on the letter Senator Mike Lee circulated, was not initially part of the group--according to all of the press, anyone who was not on the letter was necessarily going to oppose us, and Senator Sessions is here, courageously standing, and I appreciate his leadership, his principle, and his courage. I am going to suggest this debate is having exactly the function it is supposed to.
Back when this body was in fact the world's greatest deliberative body, as it was reputed to be, debates were about moving hearts and minds and making the case. How can we best serve the American people? Now, sadly, debates usually occur in an empty Chamber and the Washington establishment tells us this is the result of the vote before it happens.
Let me note for those of you keeping score at home, the momentum has consistently been in favor of defunding ObamaCare. Two months ago everyone said it was impossible, the American people were not behind it, the House was not behind it, the Senate was not behind it, it could not happen. We saw the American people unite. We saw over 1.6 million Americans sign a national petition, we saw the House unite, and now the Senate must unite, and I am grateful to Senator Sessions for his leadership and his support.
Mr. RUBIO. I thank the Senator for his efforts here today and in the weeks that led us here. I ask the Senator from Texas--let me preface this by saying so much of the focus--if you read the coverage, all the focus is on what is going to happen, the process, the votes, who is going to vote what. I think that is important and I think we will have a conversation about that in the moments to come.
What I am most enthusiastic about in the last few hours is there is an increasing focus on why. Why are people so passionate about ObamaCare, particularly those who are opposed to it? Why is there a growing number of Americans coming out and saying ObamaCare is a bad idea? Why are Republicans united against ObamaCare?
Let's be clear. We do have a tactical debate going on in the Republican Party about the right way to stop ObamaCare. What there is no debate about among Republicans is this is a bad idea for the country. Why are we so passionate about that? I only speak for myself in what I am about to say, and I think it speaks for others. I will ask the Senator from Texas to comment in a moment about that. I think sometimes when you are born and raised, as I have been, your whole life in this country, speaking for myself, sometimes it is easy to take for granted how special America is because this is all you have known, this is all we have ever been around so we take that for granted a little bit.
I had a blessing, similar to the same one the Senator from Texas had. I actually grew up around people who knew what life was like somewhere else. They knew what America had is special because they lived somewhere else and they knew what the world was like outside of America. It is a reminder that what makes America different and special from the rest of the world is that it is one of the few places in human history where no matter where you start out in life, no matter how poor you were, no matter how poor your parents were, no matter how disconnected they may be from power, if you are willing to work hard and you are willing to sacrifice, you can have a better life.
For us Americans, that seems, of course, right. That is the way it has always been. It is not. In fact, for almost all of human history that has not been the case. In much of the world that is still not the case. For almost all of human history almost everyone who has ever lived is basically trapped by whatever they were born into. If your parents were poor, you were poor. If your parents were farmers, you were a farmer. I want you to think about what that means for a moment. Imagine for a second--because all of us have dreams and hopes, when you are young, especially. Imagine for a second if you are someone with talent and dreams and aspirations and ambitions but knowing that in the society you live in, none of that matters because you are not from the right people. You don't come from the right family. Imagine how frustrating that must be.
That is the story of humanity up until about 200 years ago when the American experiment began, based on something very powerful the Senator from Texas talked about a moment ago, the idea that every single one of us has a God-given right to go as far as our talent and our work will take us.
The result is the most extraordinary story in all of human history. I point that out today because I remember growing up knowing my parents wanted me to clearly understand that I would have a chance to do things they never had a chance to do because I lived in an extraordinary place unlike any that had ever existed before.
Fast forward to today and the challenges we face as a country. The one thing that most worries me as I analyze American politics and the state of our country is there is a growing number of people who are starting to doubt whether that dream is still true; a growing number of people who are starting to wonder is it still true that if you work hard and you sacrifice, you can get ahead. Do you know why they are doubting that? Because they are working hard, they are working harder than they ever have, they are sacrificing, and not only are they not getting ahead, they are struggling to keep from falling behind.
There are a lot of reasons why this is happening. Globalization has changed the nature of our economy. So have advances in information technology. We have an emerging skills gap in this country where unfortunately many Americans have not acquired the skills needed for these new jobs in the 21st century. We have to address these things. Societal breakdown is real. It is having an impact. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of poverty in the United States, and that is troubling too.
But for those of us who are in the Federal Government and in the policymaking branch of government, I think it is time we realize that one of the leading threats to the American dream is the policies that are being pursued at the Federal level, policies that are undermining the free enterprise system. Here is why that is important--because the only economy, the only economic system in human history that rewards hard work, sacrifice, and merit is the American free enterprisesystem. The evidence is all over the world. Look all over the world at people whose families have lived in poverty for generations, who now have joined the middle class. They live in countries that are trying to copy the American economic example. They don't live in countries that embrace socialism, they don't live in countries that embrace big government. They live in places that are trying to move toward free enterprise. Free enterprise has eradicated more poverty than all the government programs in the world combined. That is the story of free enterprise. That is why it is startling that over the last few decades, Federal policies have contributed steadily to undermining the free enterprise system.
We talk about all those policies, but ObamaCare is an example of that. You ask yourself how does ObamaCare undermine the free enterprise system? There are a few examples. First, because of the disruptive costs and rules created by ObamaCare, there are thousands of middle-class jobs that will not be created. These are jobs that were going to be created that someone wanted to create. I met a restaurant owner. I think he was from Louisiana. He testified before the Small Business Committee. He wants to open new restaurants. He has specific sites in mind. He knows he can make it work. He is not going to do it and he cites ObamaCare as the reason why. Those are jobs that were going to be created that do not now exist because of ObamaCare. That undermines the free enterprise system.
ObamaCare has a mandate. It has already been discussed here on the floor. It says if you have more than 50 full-time workers, you have to live by a bunch of mandates that it creates. Do you know what the result of that has been? Businesses close to that number are deciding I don't want to have 50 employees, I want to have 48 or 49 so that doesn't apply to me because I can't afford for it to apply to me. Do you know what that means? That means those were jobs that were going to be created or those are jobs that were there but now they are part time. That means you lost money out of your paycheck.
It also has redefined, ObamaCare has redefined what part-time work is. An American economic reality is that part-time work is anything less than 40 hours, except for ObamaCare, anything less than 30 hours. So what is happening? People working part time are losing their hours.
Real world example. Sea World in Florida just announced it is moving over 2,000 of its part-time employees from 32 hours a week to 28 hours a week. That is not just a statistic. These are people who are losing 4 hours' worth of pay a week.
The very people that this bill is supposed to be helping, the working class and middle class--the people who are trying to get ahead--are the people it is directly hurting. That is just one example. There are multiple examples. Senator Cruz and I could cite examples all night of real people who will be hurt in this way.
I have one more point that has not been talked about enough. Medicare Advantage is a program that gives seniors choices. It has competition. There are different companies that provide Medicare Advantage benefits, and they compete for the business of seniors by offering additional benefits.
My mom is a Medicare Advantage recipient. She is heavily marketed every year because--like all seniors are in that area--they want her business. How do they compete? They offer transportation, free pharmaceuticals, or whatever it may be. Well, guess what. ObamaCare takes money out of Medicare Advantage, not to save Medicare but to fund ObamaCare. Later this year--in early January--these seniors are going to get a letter in the mail saying that their Medicare Advantage plan no longer offers X, Y, or whatever some of these benefits are. That is just another example of who is hurt by this.
Why are we passionate? Why are we here about this? Look, we have an ideological objection to the government being involved in such a widespread way in health care, but now it is beyond that. We are passionate about this opportunity that we have to stop ObamaCare because of the impact this is having on real people. At the end of the day, that is what we are fighting for. We are not fighting against ObamaCare, and we are fighting for these people.
By the way, the people we are fighting for includes people who voted for the President. This includes, by the way, people who didn't vote for me or the Senator from Texas or the Senator from Utah. We are fighting for them because they are going to be hurt by this.
If your dream is to open your own business one day and to grow it, ObamaCare will hurt you. It is going to make it harder for you to be able to do that. If your dream is to do what my parents did, which is to work a job so your kids could one day have a career, ObamaCare is hurting you too. It could cost you the insurance you have now that you are happy with. It could cost you hours out of your paycheck. It could cost you your very job.
What about if you are working part time while you go to school at night? If you are paying your way through school as a part-time worker, ObamaCare is going to hurt you. You are going to lose hours at work potentially because of ObamaCare. What if you graduated from college? You finished college and have done everything that has been asked of you.
What do we tell young people in America who go to school, get good grades, a degree, and dream of having a career and better life? What do they want to do? They want to graduate from college, get married, buy a house, and start a family. A lot of people are having to put that off for a lot of reasons. ObamaCare will be one of the reasons. You know why? Because that job or career you wanted to start may not be created now because of ObamaCare.
What if you worked your whole life--like the 3 million seniors who live in Florida--and are living with dignity, security, and stability, and can finally sign up for the Medicare Advantage plan, but now ObamaCare is hurting you? That is the irony in all of this. The very people they said this plan--this bill, this idea--would help are the very people it is hurting the most. That, by the way, is the experience of big government.
I know that big government sounds appealing sometimes when you are hurting and struggling to make ends meet and then a politician comes along and says: I'm going to create a new program called jobs for Americans and health care for everybody. When you are struggling, this stuff sounds enticing. The problem is it never works. Anytime and anywhere it has been tried, it has failed, and it will fail again. It doesn't work.
In fact, big government hurts the people who are trying to make it. If you are a multibillion-dollar corporation or a millionaire or billionaire, you may not like big government, but you can afford to deal with it. If you are a major corporation in America, you can hire the best lawyers in America to navigate whatever complex rules the government throws at you. If you really don't like it, you can hire the best lobbyist in this city to write the laws in your favor or try to get them written in your favor.
However, if you are trying to start a business by using the free wi-fi at Starbucks or you are using the spare bedroom in your home to start a business, you can't navigate all of that big government stuff. You can't afford to hire a lobbyist to get a waiver from ObamaCare. That is the irony of this. The very people that big government promises to help are the people it hurts the most, and we are seeing it again with ObamaCare.
Who is getting waivers from ObamaCare? The people who can afford to influence it. That is the experience of big government. It is the experience of ObamaCare, and that is unfair. That is just not fair. It is not fair that in America the people who are willing to work hard and sacrifice are not able to achieve a better life. That is wrong.
The only way to assure that those opportunities are there is to embrace the free enterprise system, not to undermine it or try to replace it with an expansion of government that in the end will collapse under its own weight. But that is the direction we are headed in right now.
You want to know what the biggest issue facing America politically is? It is not whether Republicans or Democrats win the next election, it is whether we will continue to be an exceptional country where anyone from anywhere can accomplish anything or whether we will become like the rest of the world, just another powerful, rich country with a big economy, but no longer the place where hard work and sacrifice is enough. That is the choice we are being asked to make on issue after issue that comes before this body, and especially on this one.
I will yield back to the Senator from Texas by just saying this: My parents were never rich. I told this story before, but I tell it, not so much to talk about me, but to talk about us, because this is our story, not just mine. My parents were never rich. When they came here, they didn't know anybody. They had no money or connections. They barely spoke the language. When they first came here, they struggled. They were discouraged. Sometimes they wondered if they made a mistake. Sometimes they thought that maybe they should have stayed back in Cuba. Ultimately, they persevered and hung in there.
Ten years after they had been here, my dad was working as a bartender and my mom worked as a maid and a cashier. They bought their first home in 1966. In fact, by 1971, they were so optimistic about the future, that after both of them were over 40 years of age, they had me, and then my sister a year and a half after that. Talk about optimistic about the future. America fundamentally changed their lives because of free enterprise.
My dad had a job at those hotels because someone had access to money and risked it. They took a risk and said: I am going to invest this money into opening up a hotel because I believe in my idea. Because someone took a risk, my dad and my mom had a job. They weren't rich. We never owned multiple homes. We never had a yacht. We never traveled to Europe. There is nothing wrong with any of those things.
My parents lived the American dream. Why? Because they lived a life no one in their family history had ever lived in terms of stability and security, and they were able to provide opportunities for their children they themselves never had. That is the American dream. It is about being able to fulfill your God-given potential, whatever it may be, and it is what is at play right now.
There are millions of people in this country who are trying to achieve their American dream. There are millions of people across America who are trying to do what my parents were able to do for me and what Senator Cruz's parents were able to do for him. Our job is to make it easier for them to do it, not harder. Our job is to do everything we can to ensure that this is the one country on Earth where that is still possible.
When we pass bills such as ObamaCare, which claims to help people like this, we are not helping them. We are hurting them. If we hurt them, we hurt the country because there cannot be an America without an American dream. We can't be special and exceptional without the American dream, and that is what is being undermined by big government and by ObamaCare.
At the end of the day that is why we are so passionate about this, and that is why this is an issue worth fighting for.
The Senator from Texas was reading stories and cases earlier today that he heard from around the country, and that is what these people are telling us. That is what they are saying to us. They are saying: All we want is a chance to turn our dreams into reality. All we want is a chance to be able to work hard and sacrifice so we can achieve a better life. All we want is for you guys to give us a chance.
I ask the Senator from Texas: Isn't that what this issue is all about?
Mr. CRUZ. The junior Senator from Florida is absolutely correct. I agree entirely. Senator Rubio is inspiring. Senator Marco Rubio is a critical national leader. When Senator Mike Lee began this fight, Marco Rubio was there from day one. He was there from the beginning, despite the protests and despite official Washington saying that he should know better than to stand against the DC establishment and stand for the people.
I don't know if there is anyone more effective, more articulate, or a more persuasive voice for conservative principles than my friend Marco Rubio. His race in Florida 2 years ago was supposed to be impossible. I know that because I read it in the paper over and over.
Actually, many of the same people are saying this fight is impossible. They all said it with that same certitude and that same deep baritone voice: This young lad Rubio has no chance of winning this race. If it were up to official Washington, they would have been right. By every measure of official Washington, the winner of that race that would have been picked was the governor of the State. All of Washington was behind him. The only thing that was standing with Marco Rubio was the people.
When he started, he was at 3 percent in the polls. That is a condition I know well because 2 years later I found myself in a similar position. Yet he ran a campaign where he crisscrossed the State of Florida. He listened to the Florida people and got support from the grassroots. His victory in 2010 was a transformational moment in American politics, and it is also emblematic about what this fight is about right here.
If you trust the talking heads on television, if you trust the reporters who tell us what is up and what is down, what is white and what is black, then ObamaCare is here to stay and America has to continue to suffer with it because we can never, ever do anything to change it. As long as this body, the Senate, believes the opinions of these 100 people in this room is more important than the American people, that will remain a true and accurate description. But that is not our job. Our job is to listen to the people.
Marco Rubio's parents were Cuban immigrants. His dad was a bartender. It was a family experience that resonates powerfully with me because I came from a similar background. But more important than that, Marco Rubio's story is the American story. There is not a Member of this Senate, or a person in this country, who doesn't have a story just like that somewhere in their background.
The most unique aspect of the United States of America, I believe, is that we are all the children of those who risked everything for freedom. I think it is the most fundamental aspect of our DNA and what it means to be an American. What unifies all of us is that as Americans we value liberty and opportunity above all else.
One of the things I admire about Senator Rubio is how he views issues in this Senate. He doesn't look at it from how it impacts the titans of industry, such as the CEOs, but from how it impacts people such as his dad and my dad, the people who struggled and climbed the economic ladder, seeking the American dream.
If today you are a bartender at a Nevada hotel or if you are washing dishes at a restaurant, like his father and my father, respectively, ObamaCare is hurting you. It is hurting you in a way that all the Senators who have a special exemption from Barack Obama don't have to worry about. It is hurting you because your job is in jeopardy. You may well lose your job or you may not have a job to begin with.
Maybe you would like to be a bartender or wash dishes, but because of ObamaCare, there is no job to hire you. Maybe it is hurting you because what used to be a 40-hour a week job has become a 29-hour a week job and your boss has told you: I don't have any choice. ObamaCare kicks in at 30 hours a week, and it will bankrupt me.
Suddenly you are struggling by either working 29 hours a week and are unable to feed your kids or have to get a second job and work 29 hours a week and have to juggle your schedule, which results in making your life more difficult than it was before--not to mention your concerns about health insurance. Maybe you have a health insurance.
Maybe a person has a health insurance plan they have been struggling to pay, but it is important to them and they want to make sure their kids are covered, they want to make sure their spouse is covered. Yet every year they see their premiums going up and up and up.
We remember when President Obama was defending the ObamaCare bill. He promised the American people that as a result of ObamaCare, the averagefamily's health insurance premium would drop $2,500. He said: That is going to happen by the end of my first term. I would point out that the President's first term ended 9 months ago, and by the end of the President's first term, that promise was proven not just a little off the mark, not just kind of sort of a little bit not entirely accurate; it was proven 100 percent, categorically, objectively false.
Let me suggest to every American, if your health insurance premiums have dropped $2,500, as the President promised the average family--so there would be tens of millions for whom that is true--then I would encourage those Americans to enthusiastically stand and defend ObamaCare. But there is a reason it is so profoundly unpopular, and it is because it hasn't happened. Premiums have gone up, and the American people are hurting as a result. So DC should listen to the people. We should make DC listen.
Mr. LEE. Will the Senator yield for a question?
Mr. CRUZ. I am happy to yield for a question without yielding the floor.
Mr. LEE. I wish to ask the Senator from Texas whether he has received comments similar to those I have received from my constituents and from other concerned citizens from around the country in recent months. I wish to highlight a few and ask whether these are similar to comments the Senator from Texas has heard, concerns he has heard expressed.
Let me start by sharing one expressed by Shawn from Utah, who says:
I do not like the fact that the President is picking winners and picking and choosing which parts of the law he will enforce. We need the three branches of government to keep freedom alive.
Well, Shawn from Utah, I share your concern. I would add to that, to Shawn from Utah, the fact that this is really what started this effort. In other words, during the first week of July 2013, when the President announced there were several provisions in the law he simply would not be implementing, he simply would not be enforcing, along the lines of what Congress enacted with the Affordable Care Act in 2010, it was at that point that I and several others put our heads together and realized that if the President is saying this law is not ready to implement, if the law objectively is not ready to implement; if, as we now understand it, the law is going to make health care less affordable rather than more affordable for so many Americans, perhaps Congress shouldn't be funding its implementation and enforcement. Perhaps that ought to be telling us something.
So it is important to remember, as Shawn from Utah points out to us, that we do have three branches of government. This is the legislative branch. Our job is to make the laws. The President does not have law-making authority. The President can seek changes in the law just as other citizens can seek them from Congress, but Congress does have to act.
Although the President wields the veto pen, the veto pen is not the legislation pen. He doesn't have the power to legislate on his own without the assistance of Congress. It is one of the reasons we are in this debacle today. It is one of the reasons we have, along with so many millions of Americans, expressed this position that we would like to fund government while defunding ObamaCare. This is something the American people are calling out for. It is something they are requesting. It is something the House of Representatives acted boldly and bravely in doing, in standing behind the American people. This really is what we are doing. This is the whole reason we are concerned about this, because we want to stand with the American people and with the House leadership, Speaker Boehner and the other leaders in the other body in Congress, who bravely put forward this legislation to keep government funded while defunding ObamaCare.
One of the things we have been concerned about today and one of the things I think we need to focus on over the next few days is the fact that with the House of Representatives acting last week, passing this legislation, this continuing resolution to keep government funded while defunding ObamaCare, in order for us to stand behind them, we have to monitor the manner in which that legislation is reviewed over here.
Now that the House-passed continuing resolution has reached the Senate, we have a few options. There are a few acceptable ways of treating this legislation now that it has been passed by the House. One very acceptable approach would be for us to say: OK, let's bring up the House-passed continuing resolution--the resolution that funds government but defunds ObamaCare--and let's have an up-or-down vote. Let's vote for it as is, the same way it was crafted in the House of Representatives. That would be an acceptable approach. I would be comfortable with that.
Another acceptable approach would be to say: Instead of just taking it up and passing it or not passing it as is, let's have an amendment process. Let's allow Democrats and Republicans as they may deem fit to offer amendments. Let's debate those amendments, discuss their relative merits, the pros and the cons. Let's put those before the American people in the few days we have left before the existing continuing resolution expires, let's vote on all of those, and then at the end of it we will get to the bill itself as it may have been amended by that point. That would be acceptable as well.
What is not acceptable is what many have suggested will occur. Many have suggested that the majority leader will bring up this bill and instead of saying ``let's vote on it as is'' or instead of saying ``let's have an amendment process,'' he apparently wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to have it both ways. He wants to bring it up and subject it to one and only one amendment--an amendment that would strip out a very critical part of the legislation, a part of the legislation that probably is the ``without which not'' element for many of the House Members who voted for it: the provision defunding ObamaCare. He wants that amendment and no other. That is not acceptable, and under that circumstance, in my opinion and in the opinions of several of my colleagues, some of whom we have heard from today, the appropriate way to register that concern is to vote against cloture on the bill if, in fact, that is what the majority leader chooses to do.
That is why we are fighting this particular battle today. That is much of what we are discussing today, is why it is that we should not be facilitating the effort of Senate leadership to, in effect, gut the House-passed continuing resolution of an extraordinarily critical element, an element without which it could never have passed in the House of Representatives and an element which, frankly, the American people expect us to take up and discuss and debate. So either way--an open amendment process, fine; an up-or-down vote on the bill as is, fine. What is not fine is an effort to try to have it both ways.
Let me share with the Senator from Texas another comment I received from a man named Michael who is also from Utah:
We are getting a bigger and bigger government. They're telling us what we should have, what we are entitled to instead of protecting a free people paving our own path. Government gets bigger while the job market is getting crushed. I work for a company in the middle of layoffs and more are to follow. We can't continue like this.
This is an acknowledgment that so many people across our great country are making as they discover the impact of this bill--passed into law some 3\1/2\ years ago--that has not increased in popularity over the last 3 years.
Time might not have increased its popularity--in fact, it has had quite the opposite effect--but time has had the effect of expanding its volume. It has gone from 2,700 pages when it was passed to more than 20,000 pages now when we add the implementing regulations. That is quite stunning. The length of it is quite stunning. It reminds me of something James Madison wrote--I believe it was in Federalist No. 62. He said, if I may paraphrase him, it will be of little benefit to the American people that their laws may be written by individuals of their own choosing if those laws are so voluminous and complex that they can't reasonably be read and understood by the American people. Well, 2,700 pages is a little too long. It is a lot too long. And I certainly know that 20,000 pages is much, much, much too long.
That brings to mind a comment I received from Marcia, also from Utah, who writes this:
However well intentioned Obama care may be, I do not feel this is the best solution. I think something ``less wordy'' and more succinct would be a much better plan. If you can't say it in 5 pages or less, it may be best unsaid! The changes already enacted have made it more difficult for me to get medical care. Not a big help!
Well said, Marcia, very well said.
When we vote on legislation people haven't read, the American people tend to suffer. When we perpetuate a mistake once made embodied in a 2,700-page bill, things go from bad to worse to much, much worse.
What we have right now is an opportunity for us to debate and discuss the merits of something that perhaps was not adequately debated and discussed 3\1/2\ years ago when this law was passed, when Members of Congress were told to pass this law to find out what is in it. Well, we know a lot more about what is in it now. The American people have concerns.
It is appropriate to have the discussion now in connection with spending legislation because, after all, Congress does have the power of the purse. Congress is given this power, this responsibility of making decisions regarding taxing and spending. It was for this reason the founding generation wisely put it in the hands of the House of Representatives--the power of the purse--giving the House of Representatives the responsibility to initiate or originate bills relating to this power. It is the House of Representatives that is, after all, the branch of a government and of Congress that is most directly responsive to the needs of the people.
It is appropriate that we have this discussion regarding funding or not funding a piece of legislation that is going to require a lot of money and is going to be proven costly to the American people in many, many ways in the coming years--I say ``costly in many ways'' to reflect the fact that it is not just the cost of government money; it costs the American people a lot of things as well. It is costing them jobs. It is costing them wages. It is costing them access to health care in many circumstances.
Let me read something I received from Randy. Randy is from my neighboring State of Idaho. Randy writes:
My wife and I have a small business with about 20 employees. We struggle to stay in business. We feel that if and when Obamacare is implemented, we will not be able to continue to be in business.
Randy, I can't tell you how many people I have heard make very similar comments from one end of my State of Utah to the other and from people across America. You are not alone, Randy. A lot of people out there are concerned as well.
That is one thing people lose in addition to wages or jobs or access to health care--some of them lose the opportunity they have to stay in business. We are not talking about millionaires and billionaires; we are talking about hard-working Americans who put a lot on the line in order to make a decent living, in order to provide jobs for their few employees. This is something we need to look out for. This is something we may not, we must not lightly brush aside.
Here is something else some Americans will sometimes lose--something they were promised they would not lose--access to a doctor they like, access to a doctor they have come to trust over the years.
This one comes from Jack from the State of Texas. Jack says:
My family doctor of 25 years is talking about an early retirement because of policies Obamacare is going to require him to follow that will compromise the oath he took when he became an M.D.
This is sad, Jack. This is something we were promised would not happen, and it is something that should not happen. This is something that we are told is happening from time to time.
Ryan, also from Texas, writes:
My mother is a middle-class mortician whose health care coverage is going up by 68 percent for this poorly envisioned law with no other changes. She simply cannot afford to maintain health care coverage without significant changes to her lifestyle, and for what?
Sometimes we have to ask that question: And for what?
Sometimes we have to ask the question, the same question that physicians are required to ask themselves: Are we doing harm? It is my understanding that when a physician becomes licensed, he or she must take an oath, an oath that involves an obligation to first do no harm. We as lawmakers have to ask ourselves that question from time to time. We as lawmakers have to view ourselves as subject to a similar obligation to first do no harm.
(Mr. DONNELLY assumed the chair.)
Some have said that when you are carrying around a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. I wonder whether that is sometimes true of Congress and the law-making power. Because of the law-making power we wield, sometimes, when we view problems, we assume we automatically, necessarily, inevitably have the right solutions. Well, in some cases that may be true. In other cases, it might be true in part. But that power might be used incorrectly. Sometimes when legislation is hastily drafted, thrown together in a hurry, rather than for purposes of making sure it is part of a cohesive whole--something that will be a coherent mechanism that can be implemented in a commonsense fashion--sometimes if it is thrown together too hastily and these cautions are ignored, we can end up doing a lot of harm, we can find ourselves first doing harm above all else, and that is not OK.
When we look at this law, and we look at the fact that the American people are funding its implementation, we discover it is much deeper than something that deals with an individual mandate or an employer mandate or a set of regulations governing the insurance industry. It is much more than that. It is much more than what people will have to do with regard to the reporting of some fairly personal details about their lives to the IRS, an agency that Americans have come to trust substantially less than they already did, as if that were possible.
It is about the fact that the American people--in addition to being made less free by this law, and in addition to being made less prosperous by this law--are also required to fund its implementation and its enforcement against them. That is where the power of the purse must come into play. That is what makes it so appropriate, so essential, so vital that we have this discussion right here and right now as we consider spending legislation, spending legislation that may well represent our last best hope of achieving a degree of delay or defunding of this legislation before its primary operative provisions take full effect. That is why it is important for us to have this discussion right now.
Let me emphasize again the importance of the cloture vote and the position we are taking on that. It is grounded fundamentally in the understanding that the House of Representatives acted in a manner consistent with what the American people have been asking. I cannot emphasize enough the fact that House Speaker John Boehner and his leadership team in the House--the House Republicans have supported him in this effort. They did great work. They stood valiantly with the American people who were calling out overwhelmingly for them to take this step, to keep government funded but defund ObamaCare. And that is what they did.
Now that they have acted, there are two approaches we could take to this that are perfectly appropriate. We could vote on that legislation as is, up or down, or we could subject it to an amendment process, allow Democrats and Republicans alike to present amendments to make the House-passed resolution better, as they might deem fit. We can debate and discuss and vote on each of those. Sure, it can be time-consuming. Sure, it can be grueling. But that is our job. We took an oath to do that job. We do this all the time--maybe not as much as we should. But a few months ago in connection with the budget resolution, we as Senators stood and sat--a little of both--here all night long. We voted all night long, until 5 o'clock in the morning. People got a little cranky at times, but that is what we are here to do--not to be cranky, but we are here to vote, to cast votes on amendments. That is what we had to do that day because there were a lot of amendments. That is what we should be doing with this if, in fact, we decide we want amendments to the House-passed resolution.
So vote on it up or down as is; fine. Subject it to an open amendment process; fine. Trying to have it both ways, the majority leader telling us this will be subject to one amendment, one amendment only--an amendment that would gut and render nugatory the operative provision that was so important to so many House Members--that is not OK. That is why those who agree with us on this point, those who feel that way, those who feel the American people need us to stand up for them, should vote no on cloture when we get to the cloture vote on the bill later in this week.
I would ask my colleague from Texas, as to these concerns I have expressed, these statements that have been made from people around the country--some of them my constituents in Utah, some of them from other parts of the country, including a couple from Texas--what similarities does the Senator see between these statements I have read today and comments the Senator has heard from his constituents as he has traveled through his great State, a State of great expanse and a State of close to 30 million people? What similarities does the Senator see between these statements and those he has heard around his State?
Mr. CRUZ. I thank my friend from Utah for that very insightful question. Let me note there are many reasons why I love the Senator from Utah. But very near the top of the list is the fact that when he ``paraphrases'' the Federalist Papers, it is darn near a word-for-word, verbatim quote. Mike Lee is extraordinary and it is an honor to stand by his side and serve with him. The stories he has read are exactly consonant with the stories I have heard all across Texas and, frankly, all across the country. This thing is not working. It is not political. It is not partisan. It has nothing to do with what team you are on. The facts are clear. There is a reason why the unions are jumping ship. There is a reason why Teamsters President James Hoffa says ObamaCare is destroying the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class. There is a reason why the IRS employees union has asked to be exempted from ObamaCare. These are the guys who are in charge of enforcing it on the rest of us. They have asked to be exempt because it is not working. The facts are clear. It is a train wreck. As the lead author Democratic Senator put it: It is a train wreck.
In fact, let me share some of the tweets that have come in the preceding days. In the preceding days, the American people had a chance to speak out about ObamaCare and in particular there was a hashtag ``DefundObamacareBecause.'' In the last several days, Americans all over this country have tweeted their reason why ObamaCare should be defunded.
I will note to Senator Lee that some months ago, he and I stood on this same Senate floor, side by side with our dear friend Senator Rand Paul, supporting him in his historic filibuster on drones. At that time I had the opportunity to read tweets that were supporting Rand's filibuster. To the best of my knowledge, that was the first time tweets had been read on the Senate floor, which I have joked to my wife makes me happy because 20 years from now if there is some obscure political geek trivial pursuit game, I am pretty confident I am going to be an answer as to the first person to have the chance to read tweets on the Senate floor.
I am going to do my best now to be the second person. Now I am reading tweets that concern the hashtag ``DefundObamacareBecause,'' but I will note there has been another hashtag tonight: ``MakeDCListen.'' And that hashtag has been trending higher and higher--``MakeDCListen''--and as the evening goes forward, I fully expect for those of you who have something you want to say, but you are not currently able to come to the Senate floor--maybe in a few years you will be, maybe you will be elected to the Senate and stand at your desk and make your arguments, but right now you are not--let me encourage you to tweet with the hashtag ``MakeDCListen,'' and I expect later in the evening to read a sample of those tweets so we can help provide voice to those millions of Americans who are frustrated that DC is not listening.
But these are some of the tweets in the past few days with the hashtag ``DefundObamacareBecause.'' It is just another way to gain control over people. Defund ObamaCare because I don't want the government dictating my health care. Because I don't trust the government to run my health care. Because it was sold to us on lies. You can keep your insurance? No. My coverage reduced to nearly nothing, premiums the same. Because it's too intrusive on our privacy. Because it's killing jobs and stifling the economy. Because it's forcing small businesses to lay off full-time workers and replace them with part-time workers to avoid bankrupting mandates. Because Congress should be representing us, we the people. A majority of Americans don't want ObamaCare. Because it adds layers of government, inefficiency, centralizes control to ivory-tower bureaucrats. Massive drag on the economy. Because it will lead to SINGLE-PAYER health ``care''.
``SINGLE-PAYER'' is all caps and ``care'' is in quotes. Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad. Because it's not even implemented yet and it has already raised my insurance rates and reduced the quality of my medical care. Because cancellation notices from my carrier due to ACA kind of ruined the narrative: Like it, keep it. Bombs away on ACA. Because I don't want the government deciding my family's health care. Because the cost of health care will increase with quality decreasing. Empower the free market. Because it is a threat to jobs and our economy. Because I got laid off. My chances of finding another job are slim too. None now. Because it's time people in DC do what's best for this country instead of their political party.
Let me read that one again: ``Because it's time for people in DC to do what's best for this country instead of their political party.''
If we listened to the people, if we make DC listen, this would not be about party, this would not be about Democrats sticking to the bill they passed, this would not be about Republicans afraid of political blame and repercussions. This would be about 100 Senators listening to people and saying: This bill is not working. Because it kills jobs and the backbone of the American middle class. Because it's killing free clinics and reducing access to care. Because Americans love freedom. Because it's a job-killing machine, up to and including doctors. Because I don't want government to control my health care. Because the free market works and government regulation does not. Because Americans can't live on part-time wages and pay the outrageously high cost of ObamaCare. Because it violates Americans' first amendment right to religious liberty. Because we the people don't want it and the government works for us.
Let me repeat that one again: ``Because we the people don't want it and the government works for us.''
Let me note something, by the way. That hashtag was a simple hashtag: ``DefundObamacareBecause.'' That is the message that is coming from the people. Washington is not listening. It is why tonight ``MakeDCListen'' is trending higher and higher as a hashtag because that is what this fight is about. Washington is not listening to the people. Because it has already resulted in great doctors leaving medicine. Because government is not meant to force me into something they have no business in. Because I'm against force and coercion from government. If it was a great idea, it would be voluntary.
Now that says something. If it was a great idea, why is the Federal Government forcing you to be a part of it? By the way, why, at the same time, is the President granting exemptions to big corporations and to Members of Congress? If it is a great idea, they would not have to force you to participate. If it was a great idea, Members of Congress would not have asked the President for an exemption so that Members of Congress get a special rule that does not apply to the American people. Because I do not want bureaucrats involved in my physician's decisions on my health care. Because I value my freedom. Because it's ruining the 40-hour work week, according to unions. Because it is crony capitalism for the health care industrial complex. Because you don't want a bunch of bureaucrats deciding which medical treatments you can and can't receive. What do they know? Because the government SHOULD NOT own our medical data. Because the IRS will be enforcing it.
Now, that is a pair that gives you great comfort. The IRS in charge of it, the IRS employee unions publicly asked them to be exempted from ObamaCare. Right now they are assembling the largest database in the history of our health care records. We have seen the IRS--their willingness to abuse their power. Under ObamaCare right now, they just have access to our health care records so it is not like anyone should be concerned about it. Because it is a job-killing, economy-destroying, health care-ruining, debt-exploding, out of control government mess.
I like that one. Because it is a job-killing, economy-destroying, health care ruining, debt-exploding, out of control government mess. Because ObamaCare is all about socialistic control of we the people and nothing to do with fixing health care. Because it was rammed through in the dark of the night, and that should matter. Because it has already come between me and my doctors and it is not even fully implemented yet.
Next time you see your physician, do you want your friendly neighborhood Federal bureaucrat sitting down and being part of the physician's meeting? I do not. I know Texans do not either, most Americans do not either. Because it is a Trojan horse. Once inside it will destroy us. Because even the unions agree it's not working. Because we need the IRS to get out of our lives, not make health care decisions for us. Because it will cost Americans their jobs. Because it's a red herring being used to move the credit to a single-payer system.
As we noted earlier, that is not--some people dismiss that. Oh, single payer, this is designed to go there. You know that is just crazy, tinfoil hat-wearing stuff. But there is an old saying: Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you. Yes, there are people worried about single payer. They have every good reason to be, particularly when the majority leader of the Senate goes on television and says: The purpose of ObamaCare is to send people into a single-payer system, government-provided socialized health care.
That is the express purpose from those who voted for ObamaCare, to destroy the private health insurance system and to move to single-payer government socialized medicine. Because honestly the people do not want it. Because problems cannot be solved by a larger government than the one that created them. Because after 3 years, they are still trying to sell it to us.
That is a good point. If it were such a great idea--don't you remember at the time, they said: Gosh, when people get it, they are going to love it. It is going to work. You know what. If it had, we would be having a very different discussion. If it had worked, the American people would support it. We would see the results. We would see the benefits, and we would not have this debate. If it were working well, we would not be having this debate because the American people would support it. The facts are clear. So even those who voted 3 years ago, unless your view of serving in office is: Hey, once I vote, I stick to it no matter what the facts say, no matter how much people are hurting, no matter how big a disaster it is. I ain't changing no matter what.
I cannot believe there are many Senators in this body who want to approach voting like that. That is not a responsible way to approach a job. The facts are clear. This thing is not working. All 100 of us ought to act to avert this train wreck. Because it is and will continue to destroy jobs, slow hiring, and move others to part-time status. Because if you don't, your doctor might just retire early.
How many know a doctor who is retiring early? I know quite a few who are retiring. Do you think that is good for our health care system, seeing doctors retire early? I know older doctors who are advising young students, do not go to med school. Do you think that is good for health care? Do you think that is going to expand our health care if we do not see bright young students going to medical school? That is what ObamaCare is doing. Because you do not want an IRS agent deciding if your mom lives or dies. Because it makes health insurance less affordable. My premiums will be higher to subsidize people who cannot afford insurance. Because even the unions don't want it. Because the IRS has shown they are willing to abuse power for political gain. Because it's not about care, it is about government control. Because I shouldn't have to pay for the murder of innocent, unborn babies through abortion. Because if it worked, Democratic Senators would not have needed to be bribed to vote for it. Because the death panel is an unchecked bureaucracy accountable to no one. Because I love my current health care and doctors.
Do you like your current health care? Do you like your doctor? Do you want to keep seeing your doctor? I tell you, Americans all over this country are losing their health care because of ObamaCare. They are losing their ability to see their doctors. That is what happens if the Senate does not act to defund ObamaCare. Because the majority of the country is against it. Because premiums up 100 percent after dropped off spouse's plan. Elimination of meds coverage, reduction of choices and treatments.
These are real people tweeting. They are sharing their stories of why they do not like ObamaCare. Do you notice these stories are not: Because I am a Republican. Because I am a Democrat. Because I believe in this ideology. It is because: This thing is hurting me and my family. If this body were listening to the people, we would have 100 Senators concerned about all of the Americans being hurt by ObamaCare and here at any hour of the night ready to act to stop it. Because no one wants to live in their parent's basement forever. Because Reagan once said, you can't be for big government, big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.
Boy, ain't that the truth. Because I don't want to pay more taxes to fund it. Because it does nothing to reduce costs while hurting many full-time employees who are dropped to part time. Because it makes health insurance less affordable, my premiums will be higher to subsidize people who cannot afford insurance. Because it actually does add a dime to the deficit, and a lot of them. Because--
Three words in all caps. --INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE. Because it is killing full-time jobs and stunting the growth of businesses that want to hire. Because government should not be in charge of something as important as health care. Because the devil himself wouldn't put the IRS between you and your doctor.
I like that one too. Because the more exemptions that are given out, the more ObamaCare won't work. Because I cannot afford to get two jobs, pay outrageous prices for crappy insurance. I will lose my full time. Because that time Congress passed the law and then excluded themselves. #healthcarehypocrisy. Because doctors and hospitals are already becoming limited. Because it is designed to collapse private insurance and force us all to single payer. Socialism.
Again, I would note that is not hypothetical. That is what majority leader Harry Reid has publicly said on television. Because insurance isn't very helpful when you can't find a doctor. Because I don't need to spend a decade of my life filling out government forms. Because baby-boomer doctors will retire in droves, plus more who won't practice in this environment. Because if it is not good enough for Congress, it sure as shooting is not good enough for the people.
Those are sentiments we are hearing from all across the country. Those are sentiments that reflect the views of the American people, not just in Texas, in all 50 States, and not just Republicans but Democrats, Independents, Libertarians. The American people understand that when you have a law that is killing jobs, when you have a law that is hammering small businesses, when you have a law that is forcing people into part-time work and to work 29 hours a week, when you have a law that is causing skyrocketing insurance premiums, when you have a law that is causing more and more people to lose their health insurance, you have a law that is not working.
You have a train wreck, as the Democratic Senator who is the lead author of this bill described it. Yet right now the Senate is not listening to the American people. The Democrats in the Senate understandably have circled the wagons. They passed this bill, and even if it is a sinking ship, we have yet to see Democrats come out and say: We tried it. It didn't work. Let's listen to the American people. I hope the time comes this week where we see some courageous Democrats stand--and let me say to any Democratic Senator who does so, he or she will receive withering criticisms from the partisans in your party.
Now I will know, as someone not entirely unfamiliar with receiving withering criticisms from one's own party. There are worse things in life. I promise you that it is, in the order of things to be worried about, quite low. You know I am a lot more concerned about a single mom working in a diner trying to feed her kids than I am about whether some Senator or some congressional staffer wants to run to a newspaper and say something mean about me.
So any Democratic Senator who is thinking about responding to the concerns that I know you are hearing from your citizens, because we are hearing it all over the country, let me suggest a little bit of grief for breaking party discipline is a small price to pay for doing your job, for listening to the American people.
Let me say to the Republicans: There is a lot of concern about political blame. There is a lot of concern about: If we would just get a symbolic vote so we can all say we are opposed to it, but let's not actually do anything to change ObamaCare. Let me suggest to my Republican friends that we should worry a lot less about blame and credit and politics and just worry about fixing the darn thing for the American people.
If we get back to an economy where jobs are booming, where small businesses are thriving, where people who are struggling and want the American dream can get that first job and get that second job and climb that economic ladder and advance, provide for their families, that answers a whole lot of problems.
I have heard some partisan observers say: ObamaCare is not the biggest job killer in the country. No. 1, it is ironic that is the particular debate, about whether it is the biggest job killer or the second biggest job killer. But let me tell you, I do not think there is any debate on that question.
So let me point to a list by Investors Business Daily of 300 cuts to work hours or jobs.
Well, if you don't believe ObamaCare is the biggest job killer in the country, look to the facts. This year report after report has rolled in about employers restricting work hours to less than 30 hours per week--the point where the mandate kicks in. The data also points to record-low workweeks in low-wage industries. It is low-wage industries in particular because the people who get hammered by this are not the CEOs. It is not the rich. The rich have done just fine under President Obama. It is hard-working American families, the people who are struggling. It is young people, Hispanics, African Americans, and single moms. They are the ones who are losing their jobs and being forced to work 29 hours a week.
Investor's Business Daily compiled a list of job actions that provide strong proof that ObamaCare's employer mandate is behind cuts to work or staffing cuts. As of September 18, 2013, their ObamaCare scorecard included 301 employers.
In the State of Alabama, Houston County cut the hours of part-time employees to less than 30 hours per week.
In California, Biola University cut student work hours to a maximum of 25 per week and suspended the limit due to the employer mandate delay. That is interesting. They cut it, and then when the employer mandate delay kicked in, they suspended that. If you want to understand cause and effect, look to the behavior, look to the suffering, look to the job losses that are coming as a direct result of ObamaCare.
In Florida, Bealls department stores restricted part-time hours to less than 30 hours a week.
In Florida, SeaWorld Entertainment--have any of you ever taken your kids to SeaWorld? They cut hours for part-time workers from a maximum of 32 hours to 28 hours a week. That is SeaWorld, which is a big employer.
In Illinois, Palmer Place Restaurant cut hours for some workers below 30 hours a week.
In Kansas, the Salina Family YMCA cut part-time employee schedules to a maximum of 25 hours per week.
In New Jersey, Middletown Township Public Schools cut hours for paraprofessionals to below 30 hours per week.
The great State of Texas--it actually doesn't say ``great State'' on the list, but I view that as implied--Sam Houston State University limited student work hours to 29 per week, impacting multiple job holders.
In Michigan, Auburn Hills reduced hours for part-time seasonal workers to less than 30 per week.
In Pennsylvania, Friendship Community cut part-time hours to below 30 per week. That, by the way, is a group home for adults with disabilities. Not only are the folks at Friendship Community working to help adults with disabilities, they are also getting their hours cut. That is their penalty for making a difference in their community.
In Michigan, Meridian Public Schools cut schedules of hourly workers to less than 30 hours per week.
In Arizona, Arizona State University limited course loads for nontenured associate faculty members.
In Maine, Mainesubway, the Subway franchisee, reduced worker hours to no more than 29 per week.
In New York, Finger Lakes Community College capped course loads for adjunct faculty.
In South Carolina, Tsunami Surf Shops--I like that name; that is a surf shop with an attitude--will limit workers to less than 30 hours per week.
In Illinois, Southern Illinois University limited graduate teaching assistants to 20 hours per week.
In Indiana, Vincennes cut the hours of part-timers to 29 per week.
In California, the Mexican American Opportunity Foundation cut the hours of employees working up to 39 hours a week to less than 30. I am talking about a real impact from this law.
In Georgia, Georgia Military College cut the hours of adjunct faculty to below 30 hours per week.
In Illinois, Vcm Inc., the Subway franchisee, reduced hours for hourly wage earners to below 30 per week.
In Indiana, Ball State University limited work hours for graduate assistants.
In New Jersey, Toms River will cut part-time hours to 25 hours per week, effective July 2014.
In North Carolina, Forsyth Community Technical College reduced hours for adjunct faculty to below 30 hours per week. Also in North Carolina, Wilkes Community College reduced teaching loads for adjunct faculty to below 30 hours a week.
Let me go through a few of these that are much the same:
Texas, Consolidated Restaurant Operations and Dave & Buster's; Pennsylvania, Philadelphia University; Virginia, K-VA-T Food Stores; Missouri, Three Rivers College. In Alabama, the University of Alabama capped student work hours at 20 per week. That may, in fact, be justifiable punishment for their having beaten Texas A&M, but it is still not good for the students who would like to work more than 20 hours per week. Florida, Brevard County; Florida, Buca di Beppo restaurant chain; Florida, Hillsborough Community College; Florida, St. Petersburg College; Georgia, Cherokee County School Board; Indiana, Hancock County; Indiana, Morgan County; Michigan, Central Michigan University; New Jersey, NEMF trucking company; North Carolina, Henderson; Ohio, White Castle. We read a letter from White Castle earlier today. They used to open eight new restaurants a year. They have reduced it to two. Think of all the people who won't get jobs because there is no White Castle over there, not to mention all of the hungry college kids who at 3 in the morning are just craving a White Castle and they can't find one. Oregon, Shari's restaurants; Pennsylvania, Carnegie Museum; Tennessee, Oneida Special School District; Tennessee, Scott County School System; Tennessee, Stewart County School System; Texas, Jim's Restaurant; Virginia, Christopher Savvides Restaurant & catering; Wisconsin, Minocqua-Hazelhurst-Lake Tomahawk School District; Wisconsin, Trig's Supermarkets; Alabama, University of North Alabama; California, Fatburger. Now there is truth in advertising. Iowa, Lee County; Michigan, Delta County; Texas, Bee County; Idaho, Boundary County; North Carolina, Rutherford County; Pennsylvania, Lawrence County; Michigan, Kenowa Hills Public Schools; New Jersey, City of Burlington Public Schools; Texas, the Lion & Rose British Restaurant and Pub; Texas, MTC Inc. Restaurant Management; Utah, Millard School District; Arkansas, Area Agency on Aging ofWestern Arkansas; Arkansas, Walmart Stores, Inc. Has anyone heard of them? They increased temp share of workforce to ``fewer than 10 percent'' from 1 to 2 percent before this year. California, CKE Restaurants, Inc.
The list goes on and on.
Every one of those--and I read the first 50 or 75 out of 301--it is all over the country. It is every State. A lot of folks in this body may say: Well, that doesn't impact us. What is the problem? If you serve in the Senate, your salary is guaranteed no matter what. Besides, we are exempted from ObamaCare. So what is the concern?
That is official Washington for you. What is the problem? Government is a boom business. If you look at the counties surrounding Washington, DC, they are booming. Why? Because government is growing, growing, growing, and growing.
At every place I just read, there are men and women working and almost none of them are wealthy. Almost none of them are fat cats. Almost none of them are, as the President likes to invoke so often, millionaires and billionaires. They are 22-year-old kids, some who are recent college graduates and some who dropped out of high school, but they are trying to work. They would like to make a better life. They are not able to do so. They are not able to do so because of ObamaCare.
Every one of those names--and listening to those names, it would be easy to zone out: Oh, another name, another name; those are just empty names. Every one of those names--there are men, women, and their kids who are suffering because of that. If you have a job, working hard, trying to provide for your family, and you are told: Congratulations; you will be working 29 hours a week courtesy of the Senate and ObamaCare--talk about a failed law.
In the last election, young people voted overwhelmingly for the reelection of the President. Indeed, some of my friends on the Democratic side of the aisle believe that a new dawn has arrived, that young people will remain permanently Democrats and thus keep a Democratic majority in the Senate for time immemorial. I am not convinced of that.
I will say it is interesting--you could not design a law to do more damage to young people than ObamaCare if you sat down and tried. If you sat down and said: Let's really pound the living daylights out of young people, you couldn't do it.
We will talk later tonight about premiums that are going up, especially for young people, because one way to understand ObamaCare is it is a massive wealth transfer from young healthy people to everyone else. If you are young and healthy, Congress looked at you, licked their chops, and said: You are for dinner. Not only that, the people who are getting their hours forcibly reduced are overwhelmingly young people. They are people who are starting their climb on the economic ladder. If you don't get that first job, you don't get the second, and you don't get the third. It impacts you for a long, long time.
Just recently, I read an article in the Wall Street Journal that I think is relevant for every young person to read because it explains how ObamaCare is impacting you not just today but for decades to come. I think young people have a particularly acute desire to see this Senate act this week to defund ObamaCare because it is young people paying the price. Don't take my word for it, take the Wall Street Journal. On September 1, 2013, the Wall Street had a major article that was entitled ``Wanted: Jobs for the New 'Lost' Generation.'' If you are a young person, you should feel excited: there is now a title for your generation--the ``lost generation.'' I mentioned that if you were trying to design a law to hurt young people, ObamaCare--you couldn't do better than that. Well, it has produced a lost generation.
Here is what the Wall Street Journal said:
Like so many young Americans, Derek Wetherell is stuck. At 23 years old, he has a job, but not a career, and little prospect for advancement. He has tens of thousands of dollars in student debt--
I know what student debt is like. It was only 2 years ago that I paid off my student debt. I had to take out student debt to pay my way through college and law school. There are a lot of young people right now struggling to pay off student debt. I will tell you, if you combine student debt with a dead-end job or not being able to find a job at all, that is a recipe for a lost generation.
Continuing with Derek Wetherell:
He has tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, but no college degree.
That is becoming more and more common. People take out loans to get a college degree, but they are not finishing. They are not able to finish. He says he is more likely to move back in with his parents than to buy a home--
The American dream used to be that everyone wanted to buy their own home, have a white picket fence, have a swing out front on which your kids could play. That was our parents' dreams. That was their parents' dreams. That has been the American dream for generations. I ask young people, how many of you feel that dream is a realistic prospect for you? It was for your parents when they were your age. Let me tell you, the policies this Congress has put in place because we are not listening to the American people are a direct cause of that. ObamaCare is a direct cause of that.
Mr. Wetherell continues:
He says he is more likely to move back in with his parents than to buy a home, and he doesn't know what he will do if his car--a 2001 Chrysler Sebring with well over 100,000 miles--breaks down.
Is there anyone else in America who has a car that is 12 years old with 100,000 miles and is wondering what happens if they wake up one morning and turn the key and nothing happens? If you have a good job, if you are climbing the economic ladder, if you have career prospects, you can deal with that. If you are stuck in a dead-end job and living paycheck to paycheck, that is a huge problem. ``I'm kind of spinning my wheels,'' Mr. Wetherell says. ``We can wishfully think that eventually it's going to get better, but we don't really know, and that doesn't really help us now.''
There are millions of Americans who feel exactly like that. Mr. Wetherell is a member of the lost generation, a group that is now only beginning to gain attention from many economists and employment experts.
Young people should feel particularly privileged that they have coined a new term for their generation--the lost generation--because of ObamaCare and the policies of this administration. From Oakland to Orlando--and across the ocean in Birmingham and Barcelona--young people have come of age amid the most prolonged period of economic distress since the Great Depression. Most, like Mr. Wetherell, have little memory of the financial crisis itself, which struck while they were still in high school. But they are all too familiar with its aftermath: the crippling recession, which made it all but impossible for many young people to get a first foothold in the job market, and the achingly slow recovery that has left the prosperity of their parents' generation out of reach--
perhaps permanently. "This has been for quite a while now a hostile environment for young people,'' said Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center, which has studied the impact of the recession on young people. ``This is all they've really known.'' The financial crisis that struck five years ago this month opened up a sinkhole in the U.S. economy that swallowed Americans of all ages and backgrounds. Retirees lost life savings. Families lost homes. Millions of Americans lost their jobs. Five years later, that hole is being filled in, however slowly. The unemployment rate is down to 7.3 percent amid slow, steady job growth.
Although, as we noted earlier, that 7.3 percent vastly understates it, because so many have given up looking for work altogether. The stock market has rallied to new highs. Home prices are rebounding. Total output has surpassed its prerecession peak. But the recovery has left many young people behind. The official unemployment rate for Americans under age 25 was 15.6 percent in August, down from a peak of nearly 20 percent in 2010 but still more than 2\1/2\ times the rate of those 25 and older--a gap that has widened during the recovery.
In other words, it has gotten worse for young people during the past few years. Moreover, the unemployment rate ignores the hundreds of thousands of young people who have taken shelter from the weak job market by going to college, enrolling in training programs or otherwise sitting on the sidelines.
Do any of you know anyone--do any of you, right now, know anyone doing that--going to school because, gosh, jobs are so lousy, maybe, you think, you will try to do something at school and maybe things will get better? If ObamaCare keeps hammering small businesses so they do not hire new workers and they keep reducing hours, the prospects for things getting better are not very bright. Even those lucky enough to be employed are often struggling. Little more than half are working full time--
compared with about 80 percent of the population at large--
and 12 percent earn minimum wage or less.
Let me repeat that. For young people who are working, little more than half are working full time. If you are a young person, if you are hoping to start a career, being forced into a part-time job because of ObamaCare is a big problem. The median weekly wage for young workers has fallen more than 5 percent since 2007, after adjusting for inflation; for those 25 and older, wages have stayed roughly flat.
It is getting worse for young people. It is young people who are really getting hit by this. Let me ask young people: What urgency do you see in the Senate? Is the floor of the Senate filled with Senators saying there is a crisis with young people; let's step forward and help them get jobs? Nope. Senators have very busy calendars. There are cocktail parties to go to. Responding to the crisis that young people are facing is not high on the priority of enough Members of this Senate because Washington isn't listening to the people. That is why the hashtag is trending: ``MakeDCListen.'' Because we need to make DC listen. This generation's struggles have few historical precedents, at least in the U.S.
You all should feel excited. You have made history, although, unfortunately, not for a good reason, because the government has put policies in place that have so hammered small businesses that they have created a job market that makes life incredibly difficult for young people. The recession of the early 1980s was comparable but was followed by a rapid recovery.
Well, gosh, what happened in the early 1980s? President Ronald Reagan was elected. He implemented policies the exact opposite of this administration's policies. Instead of jacking up taxes by $1.7 trillion, as this Congress and this President has done, President Reagan slashed taxes and simplified the Tax Code. Instead of exploding government spending and the debt, President Reagan restrained the growth of government spending. And instead of unleashing regulators like locusts that destroy small businesses, President Reagan restrained regulation and the result was incredible growth.
For young people who have never known anything other than these abysmal economic conditions, there is another way. Every time we have implemented pro free-enterprise policies of restraining taxes, restraining regulation, reining in out-of-control government spending and debt, the result has been small businesses have prospered and thrived. They have created jobs, and the result has been young people could get jobs, full-time jobs that advance towards a career and towards the American Dream. The economic legacy of the Great Depression was erased to a large degree by World War II and the boom that followed. No similar rebound looks likely this time around.
What a crying shame. Wouldn't it be nice if this week we forced them to change that sentence. Suppose this week Washington, DC, changed. Suppose this week Senators in this body--Republicans and Democrats--decided we are going to do something we haven't done in a long time. We are going to listen to the people. The American people say their top priority is jobs and the economy. Suppose Members of the Senate said: Hot diggity, our top priority is jobs and the economy. Suppose Members of the Senate came together, and Republicans said we are going to stand together on cloture. On the vote on Friday or Saturday, all 46 of us are going to vote against cloture because ObamaCare is killing jobs. It is the biggest job killer and it is hurting the American people. And suppose Democrats said: You know, even though we supported ObamaCare, we have seen how it is implemented, it is not working, it is a train wreck, the American people are hurting, and we are going to respond. We are going to respond to young people--the young people, by the way, on Twitter and in social media we are reaching out to all the time.
You know, lots of politics is very interesting, but nothing is better for a young person than a growing economy and an opportunity to have a job to work to achieve the American Dream. Yet the Wall Street Journal says no similar rebound looks likely this time around. I tell you what. If we act in an historic show of courage to defund ObamaCare, that will change. What evidence does exist suggests today's young people will suffer long-term consequences.
Now, this is important. You say may: Well, the job I have now is not great, but it will be fine in a few years. Here is part of the problem. When young people are stuck in dead-end jobs, if they don't get opportunity now, it echoes throughout that generation for decades. One recent study by Yale University economist Lisa Kahn found that after the 1980s recession, new college graduates lost 6 to 7 percent in initial wages for every one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate. The effects shrank over time, but even 15 years after graduation, those who finished college in bad economic times earned less than similar people who graduated in better times. Some never caught up at all.
So this stagnant economic growth, if you are a young person, I am sorry to tell you, it is not just a problem now. If you don't see the Senate finally listening to the American people, finally working to bring back economic growth, the stagnant economic opportunities we have right now are likely to haunt the lost generation of young people for decades to come. This is an urgency that should have this Senate floor packed.
You know what. A lot of men and women in this body have kids who are in that generation. And we should be horrified, we should be outraged that the future of our young people is jeopardized. Mr. Wetherell, the son of an electrician, grew up in Imperial, MO, a very small town south of St. Louis, where job opportunities were limited even when the economy was strong, and it wasn't when he graduated from high school in 2008. He enrolled at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, juggled a full course load, had a full-time job at a local grocery store, and tracked his near-constant commitments on a dry-
erase board in his room. Eventually, the schedule wore him down. He withdrew from school in 2011, though he says he still plans to complete his degree. He owes $27,000 in student debt--roughly his annual pretax earnings--with three semesters still to go. Mr. Wetherell is better off than many of his peers. He works at Schnucks, a locally owned supermarket chain where he is a union member--
And, by the way, that is one of the reasons why so many unions that have supported ObamaCare are turning on it now-- receives health benefits and is paid $12.65 an hour. That is enough to cover $400 monthly rent and $200 in student loan payments. But it leaves little left over for an emergency fund, let alone retirement savings.
How many young people right now are able to save for retirement? That is something else that will echo for decades. Savings when you are young are most important for retirement because through compounding interest they can grow over the years. ``It's kind of unsettling not being able to put anything away,'' says Mr. Wetherell, a political science major. Even more unsettling: Wetherell has noticed that more and more of his coworkers have college degrees, some from well-
regarded colleges like Washington University. What he had intended as a job to help pay his way through college has now turned into a destination for college graduates. ``I think a lot about whether I'm ahead or behind,'' he says. ``I really hope I'm not ahead.''
What does that say when what used to be a part-time job that would help people pay their way through school becomes a destination for college graduates?
You know, my dad worked his way through the University of Texas as a dishwasher and then as a cook. That job is what let him get the education. How much different would it have been if, after he had gotten his degree, he had shown up and they had said: Let's start washing dishes. Americans aren't the only ones asking such questions.
I'm going to pause in this article because it is 8 o'clock right now, and I mentioned before that Heidi and I are blessed to have two little girls, Caroline and Catherine. Caroline is 5 and Catherine is 2. I love my daughters with all my heart. They are the joys of my life. I will tell you the hardest aspect of public service is not someonesaying something mean about you--the press. The hardest aspect of public service is being away from those little precious angels and coming up here to DC. I tell you, it breaks your heart on Monday morning when I walk out of the house and one girl grabs one leg and one girl grabs the other and they say: Don't leave, Dad.
Well, right now, Caroline and Catherine are both at home getting ready to go to bed, and they have both turned on the television. They are both watching C-SPAN. Now I'm going to confess that Caroline and Catherine don't usually watch C-SPAN since there are far too few animated features on C-SPAN. But because the girls are watching, and my wife Heidi is watching with them, I wanted to take an opportunity--an opportunity I don't usually have when I am in DC--to read them a couple of bedtime stories. They are watching right now, and if you will forgive me, I want to take the opportunity to read two bedtime stories to my girls.
But there is a point to this also. The point is very simple: The urgency we have and should feel is because of our kids. It is because of the future they are facing. It is because of the limited opportunities they have.
I wish to read first to Caroline and Catherine Bible stories from the Old and New Testaments. We often read similar stories at home. This one is entitled ``King Solomon's Wise Words.'' It is from Proverbs 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 17, 20, and 21.
So, Caroline and Catherine:
King Solomon had good advice for how people could live a good life and be happy. Here are some of his wise sayings:
Children with good sense make their parents happy, but foolish children make them sad.
Sweetheart, you make your mommy and me very happy. You will say the wrong thing if you talk too much, so be sensible and watch what you say.
I will have to confess to my colleagues, that is not an encouraging Proverb for someone in the midst of a filibuster. Kindness is rewarded--but if you are cruel, you hurt yourself. Try hard to do right, and you will win friends; go looking for trouble, and you will find it. Good people are kind to their animals, but a mean person is cruel. We trap ourselves by telling lies, but we stay out of trouble by living right. It's wrong to hate others, but God blesses everyone who is kind to the poor. Kind words are like honey--they cheer you up and make you feel strong. Don't trust violent people. They will mislead you to do the wrong thing. Even fools seem smart when they are quiet.
I suppose that may counteract the other one. Good people live right, and God blesses the children who follow their example. Hearing and seeing are gifts from the Lord. The food you get by cheating may taste delicious, but it turns to gravel.
And, If you try to be kind and good, you will be blessed with life and goodness and honor.
So that is the first story for Caroline and Catherine.
The second one is what they know is my favorite story. It was my favorite story when I was a kid and it is a story I love reading to them. I actually don't get to read it to them often because we have a rule at home that they get to pick the books. For whatever reason, they don't pick Dr. Seuss's ``Green Eggs and Ham'' all that often. I don't get to read it that often because I tell them, Go pick the books you want to read, and I read to them. But since tonight, girls, you aren't here, you don't get to pick the book, so I got to pick ``Green Eggs and Ham.'' I love this story, so I am going to read it to you. Sam I Am. >Tweet
Source : http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2013/09/25/transcript-sen-ted-cruzs-filibuster-against-obamacare/