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Senate Proceeding on Mar 24th, 2010 :: 3:21:10 to 3:42:20
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Olympia Snowe

3:21:09 to 3:21:29( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: without objection, so ordered. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire is recognized. the senator from maine is recognized. ms. snowe: thank you, thank you, mr. president. i also want to tha the senator from new hampshire. thank you very much for your leadership and for the consideration of the time here today.

Olympia Snowe

3:21:10 to 3:42:20( Edit History Discussion )
Speech By: Olympia Snowe

Olympia Snowe

3:21:30 to 3:21:51( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: mr. president, as consideration of health care reform draws to a close in the senate with a pending reconciliation bill, i cannot help but arrive at this moment with a sense of profound disappointment in considering what might have been rather than what has actually occurred with respect to one of the most foremost domestic matters of our time. as i stated as a member of the senate finance committee at the

Olympia Snowe

3:21:52 to 3:22:13( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: conclusion of our markup of health reform legislation on last october, this is one of the most complex set of issues ever placed before us. at the same time i said that the reality that crafting the right approach is arduous in no way obviates our responsibility to make it happen given the enormous implications of reordering more than $33 trillion in health care

Olympia Snowe

3:22:14 to 3:22:34( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: expenditures over the next ten years, representing 1/6 of our economy and affecting every american. well, mr. president, if there is one thing i have learned, it's that the only way to allay people's fears is by systematically working through the concerns, the issues, and theolicy alternatives from all sides. now, when we hear proponents portraying the passage of health

Olympia Snowe

3:22:35 to 3:22:55( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: reform as the equivalent of landmark legislation of the past, what they failed to note is that those efforts were all bipartisan. regrettably, part of the history we made this week is that for the first time, a truly watershed bill became law truly along partisan lines. as i mentioned on the floor last

Olympia Snowe

3:22:56 to 3:23:17( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: november, it's almost impossible to see how transportation legislation over the last 100 years like social security, medicare and civil rights could have been as strongly woven into the fabric of our nation had they forsaken bipartisanship. well, we could have extended that bipartisan legacy, mr. president. the majority had 60 votes for health care reform, so they had a choice. they could have worked collaboratively to develop a

Olympia Snowe

3:23:18 to 3:23:38( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: more balanced, effective and credible approach that even if it ultimately failed to attract many republican votes could have ruld in legislation more widely embraced by the american people. because in the final analysis, no one party or person has a monopoly on good ideas. that is precisely the reality that originally brought six of us together in the senate

Olympia Snowe

3:23:39 to 3:23:59( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: finance committee and the so-called group of six to the credit of chairman baucus who convened a meeting last summer along with ranking member grassley, and that the chairman and ranking member referenced early in the debate on the floor and i commend them for what has always been a bipartisan effort in any committee of the house and senate. certainly that has been true and indicative of the collaborative,

Olympia Snowe

3:24:00 to 3:24:20( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: cooperative relationship. as the chairman pointed out, we met 31 times, week after week, for over four months to debate policy and not politics because we were attempting to reach bipartisan consensus on the reform legislation. and while we ultimately did not roach an agreement, given our discussions were ended?? prematurely by an artificially

Olympia Snowe

3:24:21 to 3:24:41( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: imposed deadlines, our efforts did in many ways form the foundation for the subsequent finance committee legislation, that while far from perfect, produced bipartisan reforms, practices that have been discussed here so often and again by the insurance company. we tried to navigate the ideologies on both end of the

Olympia Snowe

3:24:42 to 3:25:03( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: political spectrum. at the same time as i have stated at the conclusion of the finance committee markup, the issue of affordability remained one of my paramount concerns. i further expresshat we cannot create vast new bureaucracies and governmental intrusions. finally i said that my vote to report the bill out of the committee was to continue to work to improve the legislation

Olympia Snowe

3:25:04 to 3:25:24( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: and therefore would be imperative moving forward, that the majority in the senate give deference to the scope and the complexity of this issue, earn broader support and resist the impulse to retreat into partisanship. regrettably, since the finance committee vote on october 13, the wheels essentially came off.

Olympia Snowe

3:25:25 to 3:25:46( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: the process went behind closed doors with only one party presented. long gone was the transparency of the finance committee debate, and what came to the senate floor was a 2,400-page bill, 900 pages longer than the finance committee bill that we were forced to complete by christmas day after a mere 21 days on the floor. mr. president, looking at a

Olympia Snowe

3:25:47 to 3:26:07( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: relative equivalence in terms of benchmark legislation, the senate debated the civil rights act of 1964 for 57 days and the f.a.a. bill that we just considered, we just voted on on monday, we disposed of 45 amendments. that's 17 more than we address in the amendment process on health care reform legislation

Olympia Snowe

3:26:08 to 3:26:30( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: in december. what exactly were people afraid of? just think what we could have been celebrating here today. if we would have had the open amendment process that we had been promised or even if we had, as i had urged last october, that bipartisan summit had occurred then instead of last month. if it was a good idea now, it

Olympia Snowe

3:26:31 to 3:26:51( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: would have been a good idea then. imagine if they had had the opportunity to sit down with the actual legislative language and through working through all of the issues, determining what works and what doesn't work. we could have crafted a better product, but now we'll never know. we could have instead developed something practical, rolled out in phases, something all the more critical, given that we

Olympia Snowe

3:26:52 to 3:27:14( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: were already in treacherous economic and fiscal waters. it's not as though we lacked the time, mr. president. after all, the major provisions of this initiative do not take effect until 2014. in fact, c.b.o. has said that with the majority reform issue not scheduled to commence until then, four years from now, by

Olympia Snowe

3:27:15 to 3:27:36( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: year 2013, there will still be 15 million uninsured americans, exactly the same number as today. now, there are those who argue that the senate-passed legislation was basically the same bill that emerged from the finance committee, but the facts tell a story of a different bill. far from improving upon the finance measures i have indicated would be critical

Olympia Snowe

3:27:37 to 3:27:57( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: instead went precisely in the opposite direction for what americans wanted, with greater bureaucracies, me taxes, ill-conceived measures that would cost our nation's jobs rather than help just look at this chart, mr. president, with respect to the employer mandate to cite some examples.

Olympia Snowe

3:27:58 to 3:28:19( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: something important to me as ranking member of the business committee. the finance proposal contained no mandate per se forcing firms to offer health insurance. rather, it specified that if a firm chose not to offer insurance and any of its workers received subsidized coverage in the exchange, the firm would pay a penalty equal to the lesser of the -- of an average credit amount that the employee

Olympia Snowe

3:28:20 to 3:28:40( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: received in the exchange or a flat $400 fee for all of its workers. now, i would have preferred zero penalty. the senate-passed bill actually got worse, as you can see with this chart. first permits nearly doubled from those in the finance package to $750 per employee.

Olympia Snowe

3:28:41 to 3:29:02( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: then it greatly expanded the instances in which penalties would be applied, requiring employers with more than 50 full-time employees who don't at least offer coverage and have even one full-time employee receiving a subsidy through the exchange to pay $750 for each of

Olympia Snowe

3:29:03 to 3:29:24( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: its full-time workers. now, under the reconciliation package that's pending before the senate right now, firms with more than 50 workers would have to pay $2,000 per employee with just the first 30 employees exempted. that's 167% increase over the

Olympia Snowe

3:29:25 to 3:29:46( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: the $750 in the bill that was just signed into law, mr. president. so we have gone from $400 to $750 and now to $2,000.?? now, if that's not enough, part-time workers and seasonal workers will be now counted in determining whether or not the mandate will apply. that will be devastating.

Olympia Snowe

3:29:47 to 3:30:07( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: it will be devastating to small firms, middle-sized firms, restaurant, retail, seasonal industry like my state of maine will be subject to this mandate, which now produces $52 billion in revenue, up from the the $27 billion in the bill that just became law. mr. president, exactly how is

Olympia Snowe

3:30:08 to 3:30:29( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: this going to help our nation's greatest job generators, that's small businesses? we're depending on small businesses to lead us out of this downturn. now let's look at the medicare taxes. the second chart, mr. president. well, the finance bill did not contain any form of medicare taxes. we did not increase medicare

Olympia Snowe

3:30:30 to 3:30:51( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: taxes, mr. president. the senate bill that just became law and signed by the president yesterday included $87 billion in medicare taxes. that disproportionately affects small businesses because they apply to the income those businesses would normally reinvest.

Olympia Snowe

3:30:52 to 3:31:12( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: plain and simple, this .9% increase in medicare payroll taxes is a job killer. as it essentially takes away one additional percentage point of pital from the very small business owners we're depending on, depending on to create jobs, who are more than likely to employ between 20 and 250 employees, all at a moment when

Olympia Snowe

3:31:13 to 3:31:33( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: we should be looking for ways to help bring capital into small businesses. now, if that weren't bad enough, here we have reconciliation that's pending before the senate that compounds the mistake with a 3.8% medicare tax that is unprecedented because it's imposing a payroll tax on

Olympia Snowe

3:31:34 to 3:31:58( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: investment income. and when combined with a capital gains tax increase the majority is planning for the end of this year, this 3.8% tax wl raise the capital gains tax rate to an ishing 23.8%, which is a 67% increase in taxes on investment during these precarious times. taken together, mr. president,

Olympia Snowe

3:31:59 to 3:32:19( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: this is a grand total of $210 billion in medicare taxes, and more taxes. so we went from the finance committee from $0 to the spassed bill that became law yesterday to $87 billion, and now the bill pending before the senate, we've got a grand

Olympia Snowe

3:32:20 to 3:32:42( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: total of10 in medicare taxes. it's a midden tax, by the -- it's a hidden tax, by the way. similar to the alternative minimum tax. it is a major tax increase on individuals, small businesses, on capital at a time when we desperately need that capital to be reinvested to create more jobs.

Olympia Snowe

3:32:43 to 3:33:03( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: so again, we've gone from zero to $200 billion in n taxes in medicare. do we seriously believe this is the time to breath taking and job-killing increases? not mention the unprecedented shift because not one dollar goes in reinvested into medicare, not one dollar. not to mention a

Olympia Snowe

3:33:04 to 3:33:25( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: -- address the physician proficiency the 21% reduction in provider reimbursement that we have to extend this year for another month because it is month-to-month problem. we need a ten year fix. we're taxing it for other purposes other than into medicare. so that's unfortunate because of the process that we have at hand, madam president.

Olympia Snowe

3:33:26 to 3:33:46( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: now look at what two of the largest organizations representing small businesses in america have stated upon passage of the finance bill. first the finance bill. the national federation of independent businesses. they said at the time whe the finance bill passed on october

Olympia Snowe

3:33:47 to 3:34:08( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: 13, "nfib appreciates the many provisions that reflect small businesses' needs which are rooted in approaches that aim to lower costs, increasing coverage options, and provide real competition in the private marketplace." now fast-forward, madam president, to the senate-passed bill in december that now became law as a result of the president

Olympia Snowe

3:34:09 to 3:34:29( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: signing it yesterday, and now what does national federation of independent businesses say, nfib? "the impact on these new taxes, a rich benefit package that is more costly than what they can afford today, and a hard employer mandate" -- the one i referred to earlier -- "equals

Olympia Snowe

3:34:30 to 3:34:51( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: disaster for small businesses." and on march 21, they said, "we couldn't have been clearer how damaging this bill will be to america's small businesses and the economic recovery of this country." madam president, particularly in these precarious economic times, shouldn't that make us all deeply concerned?

Olympia Snowe

3:34:52 to 3:35:13( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: now consider what the national small business association released this weekend, and i have that "we have continued to work positively for needed changes, but it's now clear that most of these recommendations have not been accepted. we need that it is impossible to create a significant reform such as this one without some

Olympia Snowe

3:35:14 to 3:35:35( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: objections from nearly every constituency, but our objections to this bill go beyond those reasonable expectations. congress can do better." to which i add, i couldn't agree more. and they say, they oppose the health care reform bill with regret. but they based it on all the significant issues at have been incorporated in this legislation that are going to be

Olympia Snowe

3:35:36 to 3:35:56( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: damaging to small business, and i couldn't agree more. i'm deeply troubled by the manner in which the medicare tax increases in this bill are to be utilized, the $210b according to c.b.o. -- and this is their exact word -- "to describe the full amount of the medicare trust fund savings as both improving the government's ability to pay future medicare

Olympia Snowe

3:35:57 to 3:36:18( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: benefits and financing new spending outside of medicare would essentially double-count a large share of those savings and, thus, overstate the improvement in the government's fiscal position." so, one, talking about the fact on the reduction of deficit -- not going to approve it. secondly, whether or not it will

Olympia Snowe

3:36:19 to 3:36:39( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: be plowed back into medicare. it is not going to affect comairs insolve haa-- affectmedicare's insolvency issue. another major difference in the

Olympia Snowe

3:36:40 to 3:37:00( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: legislation that we passed in the senate finance committee on october 13 and in pending reconciliation bill, and that is of course it includes the so-called class act to address long-term care. now, while proponents point to estimates that thi would raise $72 billion over the first ten years, that savings

Olympia Snowe

3:37:01 to 3:37:21( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: only occurs as a result of a fiscal shell game of using funds promised to pay beneficiaries later, to lower the deficit today. as c.b.o. say, the program would pay out far less in benefits than it would receive in premiums over the ten-year budget window." raising $70 billion in premiums that wilfund benefits outside

Olympia Snowe

3:37:22 to 3:37:44( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: the window. and, as a result, c.b.o. further concluded, "that in the following decade, 2029, the class program would begin to increase the deficit." again, madam president, this is exactly the wrong direction for america. now perhaps most disturbingly, we don't even have answers from

Olympia Snowe

3:37:45 to 3:38:05( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: c.b.o. to many fundamental questions in the minds of men's shall the min business. what will be the true impact? those are questions i posed to c.b.o. on december 3, with-to-which i still don't have the answers. what provisions in the legislation would justify and facilitate premium increases, to what extent would other provisions limit their outcome?

Olympia Snowe

3:38:06 to 3:38:26( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: what would go up, what would go down, madam president? we need to know. what is going to drive up premium costs, what's going to lower premium costs? in my home state, "mainers wait and wonder. how will reform affect us?" that's why i requested specific state-by-state analysis of the

Olympia Snowe

3:38:27 to 3:38:47( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: reform's effect on premiums. because while we do have from c.b.o. a national average for premiums, what they would be for a minimum credible coverage under the new law, but the reality is that cost would verily widely from state to -- would vary widely from state to state. i asked c.b.o. what the impact would be of opening up the

Olympia Snowe

3:38:48 to 3:39:09( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: legislation to allow the young invincible plan to extend it to all americans and extend those subsidies of the bill to that coverage as well so that everyone has at least one affordable option to purchase health insurance. government is requiring for the first time that individuals purchasing health insurance -- that's first, an individual

Olympia Snowe

3:39:10 to 3:39:30( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: mandate -- secondly, it sets new standards in the plan and the exchanges that could drive up premium costs for certain individuals and small businesses. so shouldn't we have the certainty that affordable choices are available? yet we don't even have substantiation whinl the provisions of this reform -- whether the provisions of this reform will make health care costs higher or lower.

Olympia Snowe

3:39:31 to 3:39:52( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: in fact, madam president, there's actually a presumpti in the legislation that costs may well go up. i find it telling that the excise tax on high-cost insurance in this reconciliation contains a fail-safe provision, a health cost percentage and

Olympia Snowe

3:39:53 to 3:40:14( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: that was described in the house democratic summary of reconciliation. they put it this way. "if c.b.o. is wrong in its forecast of the premium inflation rate between now and 2018," well, maine is a higher-cost ate because we don't have a competive market. we have high-cost plans along with 16 other states. but given the bill alrdy

Olympia Snowe

3:40:15 to 3:40:36( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: provides for thresholds as h as $13,890 for individuals, $36,450 excluding vision and dental benefits before triggering the excise tax, those thresholds are even significantly higher than those that were passed in the senate-passed bill yesterday. now they'll be raised even

Olympia Snowe

3:40:37 to 3:40:57( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: higher under the pending reconciliation. the question is, why exactly would we still require a medical inflation adjustor for 2018? eight years from now that raised those thresholds even higher. what does that say about the reformers' confidence in reining in medical costs as a result of

Olympia Snowe

3:40:58 to 3:41:18( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: this legislation that was signed into law and the pending reconciliation? it says, madam president, they simply don't know. the fail-safe automatic increase in the threshold clearly assumes that this legislation still may not address runaway costs. now, mind you that these are the thresholds -- i ask unanimous consent for one additional minute.

Olympia Snowe

3:41:19 to 3:41:40( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: the presiding officer: without objection. ms. snowe: thank you. madam president, these are the thresholds. and eight years from now, the legislation is suggesting, because they have add inflation for medical costs, that outpaces inflation two to three times, they're saying eight years fr now, we will not have control of medical costs, even with the

Olympia Snowe

3:41:41 to 3:42:01( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: passage of this legislation and having taken affect as a result of yesterday. it is precisely because of this uncertainty that i'll be offering amendments to address these very issues. somehow, madam president, the hard work of legislating, of deliberating, of ironing out our differences and being cast aside of either/or propositions when

Olympia Snowe

3:42:02 to 3:42:21( Edit History Discussion )

Olympia Snowe: we could have risen to the monumental challenge with the best possible solution to strengthen america's health security today and for generations to come. i profoundly regret this process has provided far too few opportunities to forge legislation that would stand not just the test of our time but for all time. we could have done better, madam

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