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Chairman's View: Obamacare Is Not ‘Working Fine’

Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) explained how the President’s health care law is threatening Americans’ paychecks, jobs and health care.  

Excerpts of his remarks:

“I hear from families who are worried that they won't be able to keep the insurance that they have now, even though the President of the United States promised them that they would be able to keep the insurance that they have if they like it.

“I hear from employers who are worried that they won't be able to afford all of the law's new requirements. That's what people are telling me when I travel the state of Wyoming.

Democrats Distancing Themselves from Obamacare

“It’s interesting, according to the newspaper ‘The Hill’ that came out last week, Wednesday, May 1, I’m not the only one.

“Here is the headline on the front page of the paper recently: ‘Botched Obamacare Tops Dem Fears for 2014,’ of course that's a reference to the 2014 elections.

“The article talks about how anxious a lot of Washington Democrats are about the law that they voted for. It talks about how, if the rest of the law's implementation doesn't go well, that voters are going to know exactly who to blame.

“That’s why you see candidates like the Democrat running today in the special Congressional election in South Carolina trying to distance herself from the health care law. So how did she do it? Let's just turn the tape back to last week's debate.

“In a Congressional race, special election, South Carolina, here's what she had to say: ‘Obamacare is extremely problematic. It is expensive. It is a $500 billion higher cost than we originally anticipated. It is cutting into Medicare benefits. And it's having companies lay off their employees because they are worried about the cost of it. This is extremely problematic.’

“That is a Democrat who said that running for Congress just last week. The election is today.

“Another Democrat, the ranking member of the Energy Committee, he had this to say, he said: ‘There is a reason for very concerned about what's going to happen with young people,’ he said, ‘if their premiums shoot up, I can tell you this is going to wash into the United States Senate in a hurry.’

“Well, I agree with the Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee. So what are the prospects for implementation? Well, one of the key architects of the law, another Democrat, said he sees ‘a huge train wreck coming down.’ That's what Senator Baucus said. And I think he's right. We are headed for a train wreck.

President Obama Claims Americans Have Nothing to Worry About

“So what does the President have to say about this? Well, he was asked about it the other day at a press conference, the President's answer went on for more than a 1,000 words, but it came down one thing.  He said, quote, ‘for the 85% to 90% of Americans who already have health insurance, this thing has already happened.’ He went on to say, ‘They don't have to worry about anything else.’

“Can that really be what the President thinks? He even repeated the idea a couple of times. He said 90% of the Americans don't have to worry.

“I would just say, with all due respect to the President, people are worried and they are very right to worry. There are many parts of this law that still have not already happened in spite of what the President says. Those things are going to give the American people a lot more to worry about.

“In fact, ‘The Washington Post’ fact checker looked into what the President said, what the President claimed during his news conference. He found that the President ignored the fact, completely ignored the fact, that 10 million people face the prospect of losing their current health care.

“He went on to cite, the fact checker that is from ‘The Washington Post,’ cited a report by the Congressional Budget Office that said millions of people are going to be priced out of the insurance that they have now—insurance that works for them. That's because of all the expensive extras that the new government-approved insurance is going to have to cover, and also government-mandated.

“The ‘Post’ pointed out that ‘even unions, which were big supporters of the law, have grown wary because it may drive up costs for their health care plans.’

“Twenty million people are covered by those plans that the unions are worried about.  But ‘The Washington Post’ fact checker also cited $1 trillion in tax increases in the law. That's going to hurt a lot more people.

“The Medicare Actuary predicts that 15% of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies could leave the Medicare program by 2019. These are our seniors, these are people that have continued to pay into the program and yet we see these other groups say, we've had enough. Why? Well, because to the cuts to the programs and the payments that the President is counting on under his health care plan.

“Health insurance costs are continuing to go up, and that affects a lot of people, even though President Obama says they have nothing to worry about.

Obamacare Is Not ‘Working Fine’

“A leading Democrat member of the Senate was interviewed the other day on New York television, his home state, and he conceded the other day that the health care law is contributing to those cost increases. The President thinks it is nothing to worry about.

Here’s how the New York Times summed up the President’s attitude. They wrote: ‘Health Care Law Is ‘Working Fine,’ Obama Says in Addressing Criticism.’

“Working fine? Tell that to the 22 million Americans who can't find a job or who can't get full-time work that they want. Tell that to the businesses that have to cut back their workers' hours. Why? Because of the health care law.

“They have to do that because the law says companies with more than 50 full-time employees have to provide expensive one-size-fits-all health insurance. So, you see, small businesses that have stopped hiring, they've stopped hiring, so that they can stay below that number of employees. Others are cutting full-time workers back to part-time status, cutting their shifts to less than 30 hours a week.

Obamacare Forces Employers to Cut Workers’ Hours

“Now, look at the latest jobs report that came out last Friday. In April, the number of people working part-time because their hours have been cut back or because they can't find a full-time job across the country, the number of those people increased by 278,000.

“The shift to more part-time workers also means that the average work week is getting shorter. In April it dropped again. That's not good for our economy, and it's not good for the workers. The statistics show we're going in the wrong direction.

“Hiring during the past four years under President Obama has been weak and it’s also been concentrated in non-salary fields like retail. We saw more of this in the last jobs report. Nearly 1 out of every 13 jobs is now in food services and drinking places and these are exactly the kinds of businesses saying they'll have to limit hiring and they'll have to cut back shifts to less than 30 hours.

“Why? Because of the health care law. Otherwise, they could go bankrupt trying to pay for expensive Washington-mandated insurance, insurance much more than is actually needed by their workers but insurance that is mandated by the law.

“It's not just bars and restaurants. Let's look at the city of Long Beach in California.  The ‘Los Angeles Times’ reports that the city of Long Beach is limiting most of its 1,600 part-time employees to less than 27 hours a week, on average.  The city says that if it doesn’t cut the hours, that the new health benefits would cost up to $2 million more next year. The extra expense would trigger layoffs and cutbacks in city services.

“Now, it may be that in the end not every one of those 1,600 people will have his or her hours cut. Some of the city’s part-time workers are probably already under the 30 hour limit. But for everyone else, there’s the uncertainty of whether their hours are going to get cut—and when.

“The uncertainty is part of what's causing employers to hesitate or to cut now because nobody knows how bad this train wreck will actually be. That's just one of the negative side effects of the President's health care law, but it's having ripple effects throughout our entire economy.

“We've seen wages continue to stagnate. We've seen awful economic growth. The new numbers on first-quarter GDP growth came out a few days ago. They showed that the economy grew at an annual rate of just 2.5%.

“It's been nearly four years since the recession ended. We should have seen a much more robust economic recovery by now. The economy can't grow until we can get Americans back to work. And people can't get back to work if there aren't more jobs. And employers can't create enough jobs because of the health care law.

“Now, here’s a third thing the President said. He said, ‘Even if you do everything perfectly, there will still be glitches and bumps.’

“These aren’t glitches. These are people’s jobs. These are people’s lives. This is the health care of the American people.

“For a lot of American families, the President’s health care law isn’t headed for a train wreck, it’s already gone off the rails.

“They’re not worried about what the health care law is going to do to them.  They’re busy worrying about what the law has already done. They know that this law – and the uncertainty that it’s created, is an anchor on our economy.

“Now here’s how the ‘Chicago Tribune’ put it in an editorial the other day. They said: ‘Glitches or a train wreck?’ and then they said, ‘Bet on the wreck.’ We're hurtling toward this massive restructuring of the health care insurance market, and no one, no one has confidence about what will happen. There will be massive consequences, intended and unintended.’

“That’s what the ‘Chicago Tribune’ said. Now the President says that 90 percent of the American people have nothing to worry about from the health care law. He just doesn’t get it.

“Now, a new poll just came out from the Kaiser Family Foundation. It found that only 35 percent of Americans have a favorable view of the President’s health care law.

“It’s less popular now than when it was first passed. It’s gone down actually eight percentage points just since last November’s election.

“More and more people are realizing what’s in this law and how it will hurt them personally, and they are not happy about it.

“For the President to say otherwise is absurd.

“He’s either not paying attention to what the American people are trying to tell him, or he is intentionally misrepresenting the facts.

“Well the health care law is headed for a train wreck. Saying it’s going fine, is just the President’s Washington spin.

‘The American people deserve better than that. They deserve for the President to tell them the truth. They deserve to hear from the President, to have him come clean on how much his health care law is costing, and how much damage it’s doing to our economy.

“The American people deserve a vote in Congress to repeal this disastrous law. And until this law is repealed, we’re going to continue to see weak economic growth, and the American people are going to continue to pay the price.”