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Barrasso: Obamacare Saddles Young Americans With Higher Premiums, Fewer Jobs

“I come to the floor today as millions of students in high school and colleges across the country have recently graduated. I had an opportunity to attend a number of commencements across Wyoming to speak to a number of students who were graduating. I note that President Obama has also been out giving graduation speeches this year.

“At Ohio State University, the President criticized those of us who warn that government does not always have the best answer. The President suggested that anyone who thinks Washington has grown too inefficient or too ineffective is somehow opposed to democracy entirely.

“He told them he wants to give everyone, as he says, ‘a fair shake.’ What he did not tell these young people, these young men and woman, is that his policies—the policies he has been promoting and passing—have actually been hurting them and millions of other young Americans.

“He made no mention of the heavy burdens he has heaped on their backs, or the damage his policies have done to our economy. President Obama did not say anything about it, but those graduates are actually going to figure it out very quickly. They are going to see what they are getting from President Obama is not at all a fair shake.

President’s Policies Make it Harder for Young People to Find Jobs

“The first thing they will notice is how difficult it is for them to find a good job in the Obama economy. One of the things the ‘Wall Street Journal’ had to say in an article by Dan Henninger:‘In Campaign 2012, Barack Obama promised the youth vote a rose garden. What they've got instead, as far as the eye can see, is an employment wasteland.’

“According to a report by the Center for American Progress, the unemployment rate for Americans under age 24 is 16.2 percent. Their study estimated that even when this group eventually starts earning a paycheck, these young Americans, they will collectively suffer reduced earnings of about $20 billion over the next decade. It works out to about $22,000 for each one of those young men and young women.

“The Center for American Progress, which did this study and did this report, is actually a very liberal think tank. Here is what else they said: ‘Employment prospects for young Americans are dismal.’ This is what the liberal think tank is saying. ‘The employment prospects for young Americans are dismal by both historical and by international comparisons.’

“We know young people who do find jobs are often stuck with part-time work. What they are looking for is a career. It has been nearly 4 years since the recession ended. Since then we have had a much weaker economic recovery than we should have.

“In the first quarter of this year alone, the economy grew at an annual rate of 2.4 percent. Wages have continued to stagnate. The average work week continues to shrink.

“Why would that be? Why would we see wages stagnating? Why would the average work week shrink? Why are employment prospects so dismal for young Americans? One big reason is the weight of government regulations on our economy. Businesses want to grow. They want to hire. But they have been buried under a mountain of new rules and Washington mandates.

“So far in 2013, the Obama administration has released more than 32,000 pages of new regulations. All of that new red tape is strangling our economy and making it tougher for businesses to create jobs for these young graduates.

“One part of this—and I have warned about it before—is the new mandate in the President's health care law. It says businesses with 50 or more full-time workers have to provide expensive government-approved health insurance. The law does not say ‘expensive’ government-approved health insurance, but the government-approved health insurance is turning out to be expensive.

“A lot of us on this side of the aisle predicted the President's mandates were going to do terrible things to the economy. Well, that is exactly what happened. It is one of the reasons we have had such weak job creation. The new jobs we do get, well, they are concentrated in businesses that basically use hourly workers.

“I have come to the floor and talked about one small business after another that is saying they are keeping workers to less than 30 hours. That usually hits people without work experience. It hits people like new graduates, just starting out, especially hard. Of course, the President didn't mention any of that at his graduation speeches.

Insurance Premiums to Increase Dramatically for Young People

“There is another thing the President hasn't told young people. It has to do with the sticker shock a lot of them are going to have when they try to buy health insurance. One reason is because the health care law forces young healthy people to pay more so that older sicker people can pay less.

“Another reason is because the Obama administration has come up with a long list of things insurance policies have to cover. Remember, none of these extras is free; they are just prepaid at higher premiums.

“Young people won't be able to just get the insurance they want that is right for them or that they can afford. No. Now they will have to pay for the Obama administration mandated and approved health insurance. It is going to be much more expensive, and it may actually do them no medical good.

“Why should Washington tell a single 23-year-old woman she has to pay for prostate cancer screening? Why should a 22-year-old man with no children have to pay for a plan that covers pediatric eye exams?

“Young people don't need many of these mandated services, they do not want them, and they don't want to pay for them. Yet they are mandated to buy them. Again, President Obama is making young people pay more for health insurance so that someone else might pay less.

“How much more are they going to have to pay? Well, according to one survey of insurance companies, younger and healthier people can expect average premium increases of 169 percent next year.

“While some people are going to get government subsidies to help cover part of this extra cost, not everyone will. Even with the subsidies, a lot of young people are still going to pay much more than they would have without the President's health care law. We haven't heard the President talk much about that during his graduation speeches.

Saddling Young People With More Debt

“Young people and future generations have already been saddled with $6 trillion in new debt since President Obama took office. Washington's debt is now more than $53,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. These are people who will end up spending the rest of their lives paying higher taxes to cover that debt and the interest on the debt.

“President Obama's latest budget called for young people to pay even more by increasing the debt another $7 trillion over the next decade. That is something else he didn't happen to tell young people during his graduation speeches.

Washington Democrats Continue to Try to Sell Obamacare

“That doesn't mean Washington Democrats are keeping quiet. According to an article by ‘Bloomberg,’ they are trying hard to sell the President's health care law. Here is how they put it in the article by Bloomberg:

“The White House has told all cabinet members and senior officials to use commencement speeches to drive home for graduating college students and their parents the benefits they gain from a provision of the law that allows young adults to stay on their families' insurance plans until they turn 26.

“Other Democrats are trying to say the same thing. Nancy Pelosi sent out a 78-page booklet telling Democrats in the House how to spin this unpopular health care law. I have a copy of it here. It is astonishing. ‘Roll Call’ wrote about it the other day.

“The article is entitled ‘Democrats Unleash a Binder Full of Obamacare Messaging.’ One of the suggestions was to find one or two young adults in your district who are now on their parents' plan because of the new law.

“That is what Nancy Pelosi is recommending to the Democrats. That is the sales pitch. The President wants young people to believe they are getting free insurance. He doesn't want them to see all the ways the health care law is going to hurt them. That is what the President is telling young people. That is his message. That is what he wants other Washington Democrats to tell everyone too.

“Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is leading the cheers. She says she plans to travel around the country to spread the word about enrollment. The enrollment she is talking about is trying to get people to sign up for the health care law's insurance exchanges. She especially needs young healthy people to sign up for the exchanges, such as these new graduates.

“In the ‘Wall Street Journal’, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel spelled out why in an op-ed. Remember, he was one of the President's top advisers in creating the health care law. He is also the brother of former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. This is what he had to say. He wrote that young people ‘are bewildered about the health care reform in general and exchanges in particular.’ The title is ‘Health Care Exchanges Will Need the Young Invincibles.’

“Just yesterday the ‘Los Angeles Times’ front page read ‘Young adults a hurdle for health act.’ Dr. Emanuel is concerned these young people won't see the Obama exchanges as being in their best interest.

“Well, of course they won't see it as being in their best interest, and that is because the exchanges are not in their best interest. That is why the ‘Los Angeles Times’ is right, ‘Young adults a hurdle for health act.’ The solution, Ezekiel Emanuel writes, is that ‘every commencement address by an administration official should encourage young graduates to get health insurance.’

“That is not going to be an easy sell for this administration. A recent Harvard poll of 18-to-24-year-old college students found that only 42 percent approve of how the President has handled health care.

“Young people are skeptical about the health care law. They are being told they have to buy expensive insurance that they may not need or may not want and that is not right for them because if they do not, the only people in the exchanges will be the old and the sick, and the whole thing will collapse under its own weight. For the President, that would be a terrible political disaster, and apparently this administration is willing to do whatever it takes to avoid that disaster.

“According to the ‘Washington Post,’ Secretary Sebelius is now going hat in hand to health industry officials asking them to donate to nonprofit groups in trying to enroll more people in the exchanges. At best, the Sebelius shakedown is a conflict of interest. And this latest scandal will only make young people more skeptical of the President's sales job on his health care law.

“Young people understand they will have to pay more for health coverage so that older people will pay less. Young people understand they are being told to do something that is not in their best interest, and the reason they are being told to do it is to give the President a political win—not because they will get better health care but to give the President a political win.

“They understand the President's bad economy means they may not find a job, but they are supposed to be OK with that because mom and dad are allowed to pay their bills for a couple more years.

“Young people know a Cabinet Secretary shouldn't pressure businesses to support organizations that share the President's political agenda. They understand all of that even if the President won't say it to them during commencement speeches. If the President really wants to give young people a speech they will remember, he will tell them the truth about how terrible these policies are for them.

“The President should leave the spin for the campaign trail and then come back to Washington and be ready to sit down and work with Republicans on policies that work for our economy, that work for young people, that work for future generations, and that work for all Americans.”