By JOHN BOEHNER AND MITCH MCCONNELL
A little over a year ago, when President Obama first took up health-care reform, Republicans reached out to him in the hopes of working together on solutions that would lower health-care costs for families and small businesses. A bipartisan bill focused on lower costs could have been sent to the president's desk last year, and it would have received the support of the American people.
For instance, this month the president announced his support for additional reforms to crack down on waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid. This is something we can and should be doing already. Do we really need to pass a $2.5 trillion spending bill, raise taxes, and slash Medicare to implement it?
In other areas, Democrats have taken solid Republican reforms-such as putting an end to junk lawsuits and allowing patients to purchase insurance across state lines-and watered them down to a point where they cannot be effectively implemented. Still, we could have used this common ground as a foundation for a bipartisan, step-by-step approach to health-care reform.
Unfortunately, the White House and congressional Democrats are still insisting on their massive, 2,700-page bill that includes higher premiums, $500 billion in higher taxes, and $500 billion in cuts to seniors' Medicare. That's not reform.
If there's one thing the American people didn't want, it was for us to make health care more bureaucratic and expensive. The Obama administration's own scorekeeper at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says overall health spending will go up by more than $200 billion under the Democrats' bill. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) also says federal health spending will rise.
The CBO also says health insurance premiums for millions of families across the country will go up by as much as 13% as a result of all the new government mandates contained in this bill-and continue to rise at the current unsustainable rate for nearly everyone else. And it's all going add to the mountain of debt we are already piling onto our kids and grandkids.
Democrats in Washington are well aware of the mess they've made. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) recently revealed her party's closing argument for health-care reform by stating, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy"-as if the steadfast public opposition to this bill is one giant misunderstanding. It's not. The American people have been laser-focused on this bill for a year, and have only become more opposed to this job-killing monstrosity.
This bill is so toxic that House Democrats are concocting a scheme by which they would pass it but spare themselves the embarrassment of actually voting for it. Democratic leaders claim they can "fix" the dreaded Senate bill through the reconciliation process, but the American people won't be so easily hustled. No legislative sleight-of-hand can make this bill more palatable: higher premiums, higher taxes, and cutting Medicare is not reform.
Taxpayers can expect Republicans to stand up for them and do whatever is necessary to prevent Democrats from forcing such an unpopular, unaffordable bill through Congress.
After Scott Brown won the Senate race in Massachusetts, the president claimed that his health-care bill ran into a "buzzsaw" of opposition from special interests. But the "buzzsaw" wasn't special interests, it was the American people. They aren't an obstacle to be circumvented. The president and his party should heed the people's message-scrap this bill and start over.
Some Democrats in Washington still don't get it. This is not an argument between Democrats and Republicans, it's a fight between Democrats and their own constituents. And if Democrats still insist on forcing this government takeover of health care through Congress over the objection of the people who sent them here, we know this for a fact: Those constituents won't sit down and shut up. Nor should they.
Our country faces big challenges. Our economy is struggling, the debt is exploding and tens of thousands of Americans are still losing their jobs every month. Health-care costs are skyrocketing. It's time for both parties to come together and solve these problems. That's what the American people want, and that's what they deserve.
Where you do you stand on the health care reform debate? Have you shared your opinion with your Congressman and Senators? Let me know you thoughts.
Messrs. Boehner and McConnell are, respectively, the House and Senate Republican leaders.
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