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tv   American Perspectives  CSPAN  November 21, 2009 11:00pm-2:00am EST

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he suddenly felt ill, and this was only a few months ago. he called his mom, she urged him to go to the doctor, but because he did not have insurance, he was worried about going to the doctor, so he did not. . . who may provide insurance now, but are at a point where either
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the jobs go or they have to stop providing insurance. so, people come in and the owner says, you know, i want to keep you working, but we are not able to have health care for you anymore. this is about the fact that our country is spending twice as much as any other country on health care, and yet, sometimes having outcomes that are for -- that are far worse than we would like to see as it relates to whether countries. we are 29th in the world in the number of babies who make it through the first year of life. a 70% of the company's that a woman can choose from if she goes into the private insurance market, 70% do not provide maternity care, prenatal care,
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care for mom and baby during the first year. so, that is going to change because of the value we bring to this. we are going to protect medicare. if folks don't have to believes -- believe us. there's a lot of debate of what is happening. we have received a very strong letter from the aarp supporting a yes vote this evening to move forward on this debate. that is critically important for us. let me share from the website of aarp what they say, champions for seniors in this country, what they say, not what we say, about what is being done in health care reform. on their website, health care reform. fact, none of the health care reform proposals being
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considered by congress would cut medicare benefits or increase your out-of-pocket costs for medicare services. fact, health care reform will lower prescription drug costs for people and medicare part d coverage gaps so they can get better -- so they can better for the drugs they need. fact, rather than weaken medicare, health care reform will strengthen the financial status of the medicare program. that is why aarp has written a letter urging us all to vote yes on the motion this evening that we will be voting on the -- voting on, because we are strengthening medicare for the future. let me speak to the question of insurance reforms. the reality is, the majority of people have insurance.
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the majority have insurance through employers. we hope that as we bring down the cost and save money, that, in fact, we will be able to make sure that people are going to be able to continue to have the coverage they are paying for today. we are talking about insurance abuses and stopping those insurance abuses. i wanted to share a couple of stories, mr. president, from individuals who have found themselves in a difficult situation. i realize my time has come to an end. i will be brief, mr. president. i do want to share does the couple of stories in conclusion. from the newspaper, benjamin franklin was born with his right arm missing below the elbow.
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in his 12 years he has been sitting with prostheses. his most recent replacement will cost nearly $30,000. his doctors say he will soon grow out of it. he is growing up. as he gets an artificial arm, it has to be replaced periodically to be able to grow with him. according to his insurance company, the boy is ineligible for future coverage of prosthetic devices because he has already spent his lifetime maximum benefit. that has to stop, mr. president. we eliminate those lifetime caps that get in the way of a 12- year-old being able to have the artificial arm he needs as he grows up so he can lead a normal life. i want to share one other story, and that is from sterling heights. glenn is 62. he got laid off and it does not look like he will be called
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back. he writes, "i am too young for medicare. i have pre-existing conditions, so nobody wants to insure me. if i get sick, my savings and everything else will be wiped out." this is not the way he picked retirement would be. "i raised four children and got them through school. i paid taxes and did what i thought was the right and moral thing to do. i did not create this mess, but i am sure paying for it." he did the right and moral thing, mr. president, and that is what we are being asked to do on behalf of the american people, vote to move forward tonight. vote for the debate. doing nothing is not an option when we are losing jobs. people are losing lives. we are losing the capacity of the country to be able to be able to provide the health care for our families that we need to
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provide. it is our turn tonight to vote yes on proceeding to a debate that i believe will result in legislation on health care that will save lives, save money, protect medicare, and stop insurance abuses. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. >> mr. president? for many months, the voices of opposition to any health reform have been loud and clear. they have been shouted at town hall meetings and heard in debates in the chamber. all too often we have heard a shrill voices raised in anger. that would benefit the insurers at the -- for too long those voices have gone unanswered. mr. president, the patient protection and affordable care act we're about to consider is
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our answer, and it is loud and it is clear. it is thoughtful and historic and, once again, like so many other pieces of landmark legislation in the last century, it is a product of this side of the aisle. those who have chosen to block any attempt at health care reform this year are on the wrong side of history. just as those who came before them had one response to every landmark piece of legislation for the last 0 years. their -- 80 years. their response has been a resounding no. they told us it's not good for business. it's socialism. it stifles free-market forces, that it's too much and it goes too far. mr. president, we have heard the same fear mongering and innuendo since the new deal. there are those who raise the specter of socialism then and said no to social security.
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they said no to unemployment insurance when president roosevelt proposed it as part of the social security act. they said no when john kennedy and lyndon johnson fought for medicare, no to the live rights act, to -- no to the civil rights act, they said no the job program, no ioreasing unemployment insurance when people needed it the most. they have said no to government oversight of polluters who poisoned our land with toxic race and then they said no to cleaning it up. they have been on the wrong side of history for almost a century on every major piece of legislation that has leveled the playing field for average americans. and they're on the wrong side of history once again. all we hear from the other side of the aisle is the dim echo of the past with no plan for the future. madam president, americans are
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tired of the naysayers, tired of the shrill choices of no when so much is at stake. it's time to say yes. time to say yes to stopping greedy insurance companies from standing between doctor and patients. time to say yes to ending medical decisions based on risk management and the bottom line rather than on saving people's lives. this historic legislation, like so many other pieces of legislation debated on this floor is about people. their lives, their hopes, their health, their dreams for a better life for themselves and their families. we can be proud of this legislation and i know when the dust settles and the provisions of this bill becomes clear, america will be proud of it as well. this landmark reform legislation
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includes state basic changes creating a fair, open, competitive marketplace for affordable health coverage. it includes an amendment i proposed for long overdue consumer protections, for emergency services without having to call your health care provider and get a prior authorization. it requires insurance plans to provide behavioral health treatments, such as those children who face the challenges of autism as part of the minimum benefit standard. it encourages investments in new therapy to prevent, diagnose, and treat acute and chronic disease. a tax credit for innovative biotolg research. it ensures that -- for the availablity of child-only insurance coverage in the exchanges. it tops insurance companies --
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stops insurance companies from denying coverage for some preexisting condition or gender. it ends the medical benefits shell game. mr. president, as soon as this passes ant president signs it into law, 1.3 million seniors in new jersey will receive free preventive care, like colonoscops. 230,000 new jersey seniors would have their brand name medicare part-d cut in half. 854,000 new jerseyians will qualify for tax credits to help them buy health insurance and ease the payment of co-payments. 100,000 small businesses could get a small business tax credit up to 50% of premiums. and health care reform will help
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end the hidden tax with th the $1.1 billion spent on uncompensated care in new jersey. it will provide portability, security, and choice to the health insurance exchange for 1.5 million new jersey residents who don't have health insurance at all. the bottom line is that senator reid's merged bill helps new jersey and it helps america. it is fair, balanced and fixes a badly broken system. it is truly a historic piece of legislation and will be remembered as such. and, yet, there are those who will stand against all of it. those who will stand firmly on the wrong side of history. once again, those who will use every legislative tactic to stop this legislation as they try to stop social security and medicare. i'm afraid history is about to repeat itself. we have seen that the truth has been a victim on the senate
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floor today. we listened to some of the most dire predictions. we hear some of the most incredible statements with figures thrown out there that are astro mom kal -- astronomical and in defines of the congressional office that democrats and republicans depend on that say that this bill cuts the deficit by $130 billion in the first 10 years an and $650 billion in the second 10 years. mr. president, in the face of a health care system that seems to work only for health insurers, certainly not for average americans, one must ask: what, if any health care reform, are my friends on the other side of the aisle for? one might ask: what were their pred what were they for when they vote against medicare? what are our republic -- republican colleagues doing?
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it seems to be for one thing and one thing only, protecting the status quo, leaving health care just the way it is, that insurers making medical decisions, finding creative ways to deny coverage. this bill represents the change america voted for. as we have seen, changes not come easily. you have to work for it. you have to fight for it. sometimes in the face of the naysayers and fear mongers, you need more from the truth and common sense. you need to fight for what you know was the right thing to do for every american, not a few, not the powerful, but everyone. at the heart of it, this vote we will cast is about change. we can see how far real changes. we must ask ourselves, do we continue to be the agents of change, or do we stand with the status quo that discriminates
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against hard-working americans who are denied health coverage because of pre-existing conditions? do we continue to be agents of change or do we stand with the status quo and deny coverage to women when they're pregnant? change however hard it may be or do we continue to deny millions of americans access to quality, affordable care? mr. president, history calls on us to stand up on rare occasions for what is fair and just and right for the american people. this is one of those occasions. it requires more than parliamentary maneuvers to slow the process. it requires more than voices raised under the banner of free market values at the expense of fundamental human values. it requires doing what's right for the american people. and only then will we find ourselves on the right side of history. that's what this vote is about. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor.
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa's recognized for the five minutes remaining under the majority's time. mr. harkin: i appreciate it. and i want to thank the senator from new jersey for his strong and poignant statement. i listened to it all and i think he really summed it all up. but let me just add to that, mr. president, by saying that we are at a momentous crossroads right now in the history of our country. we are at a time when it likens itself to 1935, when this congress passed the social security act. it's like the time in 1965 when congress passed medicare. both of them were giant steps forward in the health and economic security of the american people.
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but, as much as they are a part and parcel of our american life today, both social security and medicare were bitterly, bitterly opposed in this united states senate by conservatives who did not want to change. in fact, one conservative republican senator said that passing social security would put an end to the progress of our great country. they attacked medicare as socialized medicine. as senator robert taft at that time said, it's going to sovietize america if we have medicare. they said it will be a government takeover. well, mr. president, here they go again. they are frightening people in this country, unduly frightening people -- well, we saw it earlier with the death panels. all bogus, but it was too instill fear in people.
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you know, it's hard to change. it's hard to change. but people of america voted last november overwhelmingly for barak obama and for democrats in the house and senate because they wanted to change the system. they knew we had to change. people don't fear change. they know it's tough. but they don't fear it. they don't fear in our health care system either. i'll tell you what people fear. what i hear, they fear keeping the present system. that's what the american people fear. they fear being denied coverage because they have a preexisting condition or one of their children have a preexisting condition, and they will not be able to get health care coverage. that's what people fear. they fear that they'll be dropped from their policy because they've come down with cancer or heart disease or some other chronic illness. they fear that if they have a serious illness, they'll have to go into bankruptcy to pay the bills.
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62% of all of the bankruptcies in this country are because of medical causes. and 80% of those -- 80% of those are due to people who already had coverage. so that's what people really fear. now, another reason that i think conservative forces will fail this time is because they believe -- they believe that people who have good health insurance really lack compassion and they don't care about the 46 million other americans who don't have it. well, i disagree. people care deeply about this that 46 million americans don't have insurance, and this is a national shame when children don't have access to a doctor. it is unfortunate that our republican friends are determined to prevent us from debating and amending this. that's what this bill is about tonight. republicans in the health insurance are now joined at the hip. same talking points, same distortions, same bogus cooked
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up stories, same tactics with my friends on the republican side. all i can say is since the republicans goal is to obstruct -- obstruct and obstruct, well, the people of this country are looking to us. they're looking to the democrats as they did in social security and as they did in medicare. they're looking at us to move this country forward. and so this is a call to arms for our caucus. i hate to put this in those kind of partisan terms, but what can i do when every single republican says they want to obstruct and stop this bill? so it's now on us, the democratic caucus, all 60 members, to come here and to stand strong for the american people. now is not the time to go wobbly in the knees, i say to my friends in the democratic caucus. now is the time to stand strong. now is the time to come here to this well at 8:00 tonight and
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move this country forward, say yes to the american people. and no to these fears and unfounded allegations that you will hear from on the other side. now is the time to take the next step forward in the real progress of this country. the presiding officer: under the previous order the time until 7:15 p.m. will now be controlled by the republicans. the senator from iowa. mr. grassley: mr. president, i would like to be notified when i have spoken 20 minutes, please. the presiding officer: i will be glad to do that. mr. grassley: on november 10, the former president clinton visited the democratic senate caucus. it has been widely reported that his message to senate democrats was that on health care reform, the worst thing to do is to do nothing. with all due respect to former
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former -- to the former president, that is simply wrong. mr. clinton, the worst thing that we can do is pass this bill. this is not something that i say lightly because there are serious problems with our health care system. there are important steps that we need to take to fix the problems in our system, but the excesses of this bill appear willfully ignorant of what's going on on outside health care. those things deal with our economy. those excesses make this bill far worse than doing nothing. we are a nation facing challenging economic times. we have seen the auto industry go into bankruptcy. we have seen banks shutter their doors. i'd like to refer to the chart
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here of -- of our national debt. the federal debt has increased by $1.4 trillion just since inauguration. this chart shows the growing amount of debt that the federal government is taking on. just the amount of increased debt added just since the inauguration is $11,535 per household. it now exceeds, the national debt does, $12 trillion for the first time in history. i'd like to show you a chart on federal spending, federal health spending. as this chart here illustrates, this bill bends the federal spending curve further upward by by $160 billion over the next decade.
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the red area of this chart is that net additional federal health spending and according to -- not according to this senator, but according to the nonpartisan congressional budget office, americans have rightly lost faith when in the face of the current economic crisis congress thinks that this this $2.5 trillion restructuring of the health care system happens to be a good idea. perhaps one of the biggest warning signs that this bill will saddle taxpayers with more spending and debt is the fact that the budget fail-safe mechanism was dropped from the bill. behind those closed doors here in the capitol where this bill was written -- and i emphasize closed doors -- the grassley budget fail-safe mechanism was cut from the bill and lots of budget gimmicks were added.
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former congressional budget office director douglas hotels eagan wrote yesterday's "wall street journal" this -- that this bill is "fiscally dishonest." that it uses "every budget gimmick and trick in the books. it leaves out inconvenient spending, back load spending to disguise the true costs, front loads tax revenue, let inflation push up tax revenues and promise spending cuts to doctors and hospitals that have no record of materializing and so on." this bill is simply irresponsible, it's worse than doing nothing. let's talk about some of the excesses in the bill. it increases the size of government by a staggering staggering $2.5 trillion when fully implemented. it imposes half a trillion in
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new fees and taxes. imposing these new fees and taxes as the economy is struggling, struggling to recover is worse than doing nothing. this half a trillion dollars in new taxes will hurt small business and destroy job creation. it breaks obama's campaign promise by increasing taxes on individuals and families making less than $250,000 per year. adding insult to injury, these fees and taxes will also cause health care premiums to go up, beginning just next year. but i don't want you to take my word for it. both the nonpartisan committee on taxation and the congressional budget office has confirmed that these taxes and fees will be passed through to the consumers in the form of
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higher health insurance premiums, and these taxes and fees will start increasing premiums four years before most of the reforms in this bill take effect in 2014. let's take a look at what happens to medicare and medicaid in this bill. both of these health care entitlement programs are already on perilous financial footing. both are adding financial -- they're facing financial meltdown. this bill adds to that burden. first of all, the medicare trust funds started going broke last year. in the year operate, in the year 2008, the medicare program began depending more out of their trust fund than was coming in.
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the medicare trustees have been warning all of us for years that the trust fund is going broke. they now predict that it will go broke right around the corner about 2017. but rather than work to bridge medicare's $37 trillion in unfunded liabilities, this bill cuts half a trillion dollars from that medicare program to fund yet another unsustainable health care entitlement program. and medicare has a major problem with physician payments that will cost more than $250 billion to fix, but this bill ignores that problem by pretending that that problem doesn't exist. this bill would leave future congresses virtually no way to restructure medicare to do the
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doctor's fix. by diverting medicare resources elsewhere and ignoring major b and families. it is a health care safety net and it, too, is on very shaky financial ground. the government accountability office has reported to congress that states are reaching the financial and budgetary crisis with medicare and medicaid. like medicare, medicaid is essentially going broke. office models predict that state spending on medicaid will grow faster than state revenues for at least the next ten years. here's what the government accountability office has said about the situation, and i
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quote -- "since most state and local governments are required to balance their operating budgets, the declining fiscal condition shown in our simulations suggest that without intervention these governments would need to make substantial policy changes to avoid growing fiscal imbalances." but this bill doesn't fix this problem either. here again, this bill makes the problem worse. this bill adds another another $374 billion in spending to the medicaid program. it adds $15 million people to the rolls of the worst delivery system in health care. it increases state spending by by $25 billion, and that happens to be a hidden tax increase because states will be forced to
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raise taxes to pay for this increased cost, another unfunded mandate. by dropping the equivalent of a 10,000-pound weight to our frayed medicaid safety net, this bill does worse than nothing. this bill also compounds these long-term entitlement spending problems by creating yet another new entitlement program called the class act. this one is a voluntary federal program for long-term care insurance. i've devoted several years of effort to improving long-term care supports, particularly for the disabled and the elderly. i understand the issues that the supporters of the class act want to address. but the class act is just simply not viable in its current form. the class act is almost certain to attract people who are all
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most likely to need it. this is known as adverse selection. that will cause premiums to increase and healthier people to drop out of the program. it's a classic insurance death spiral. on november 13, the administration's own chief actuary confirmed this. the chief actuary issued a dire warning in a report on the class act, in the house bill which is virtually identical to the senate version. quoting the chief actuary -- "there is a significant risk, the problem of adverse selection would make the class program unsustainable." for the first ten years, the class act saves money, saves money at the beginning because it collects premiums before benefits start getting paid out, but sometime afterwards, it starts to lose money. we all know what happens from
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there. it will become the taxpayers' responsibility to rescue the program as it fails. look at the financial struggles of social security, look at medicare, look at medicaid. now go home and look at your children and grandchildren, creating an unsustainable class act is not a responsible thing to do for our children and grandchildren. by adding the ticking time bomb of yet another unfunded liability to our children and grandchildren through the class act, this bill again does worse than nothing. health care is 1/6 of the economy. the american people don't want a bill that makes the economy worse. the nonpartisan congressional budget office committee on taxation and even the office actuary of u.s. department of health and human services have told us what the american people
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already knew. these massive partisan health care reform bills are going to make the problem worse when it comes to the costs of health insurance. according to a september 22 letter from the congressional budget office's chairman baucus about the finance committee bill, the c.b.o. wrote -- "premiums in new insurance exchanges would tend to be higher than the average premiums in the present law individual market." so according to c.b.o., after these bills spend a trillion dollars, many of the people struggling to afford their premiums today will actually end up paying more if this bill moves forward and is enacted. by increasing costs when people desperately need congress to lower costs, this bill does worse than nothing.
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it doesn't have to be this way. when the debate began last year, interested legislators of both parties set forth benchmarks that were really no-brainers. health care reform should lower the cost of premiums. it should make health care more affordable. it should do so without medicare cuts that jeopardize access to care for seniors. it should do so without overloading the medicaid safety net until it rips. it should do so without adding to the already unsustainable, unfunded liabilities by creating yet another unsustainable entitlement program. well, it should have done all those things. that's what we intended to do when we started out. instead, this bill threatens the economic recovery. it's a half a trillion dollars in new taxes, hurting small business and destroying job
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creation. it calls for an even bigger and more unsustainable federal budget. it adds to that burden with a massive government-run health plan. it makes health care more unaffordable and lower quality. i know some people believe that we should get on to the bill and try to fix it by amendment. but this 2,000-page bill has many more problems than can being fixed by amendment on the senate floor. if you really want to improve it, it should be stopped right now and get back together where we were at one time. democratic leaders and the white house have put together one extreme health care plan after another. after the bailouts of wall street and detroit, a stimulus bill that led to the highest unemployment in 26 years and the fed shoveling money out the door without any accountability, this health care reform bill is a
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straw that broke the camel's back. what senate republicans are trying to say tonight with tonight's vote that we don't support reform just for the sake of reform. changes to the health care system must be responsible and not break the backs of the taxpayers and the job-creating engine in america: small business. it doesn't make any sense to make major new unsustainable commitments to entitlement spending. already medicare solvency is in jeopardy, and the reid bill would make things worse for medicare. seniors are in a tough situation today with the way the economy has hit their retirement savings. we have to step back and remember that it's not our money. it's their money. it's the taxpayers' money that we're talking about.
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$2.5 trillion of taxpayers dollars over the decade when this bill is fully implemented. generations of hard-working americans will be forced to pay the costly price for this bill if it moves forward. it's irresponsible for democratic leaders to use their filibuster-proof majority in the senate and their control of the house and the white house to push through such a massive legislation reshaping, one-sixth of the american economy. the unintended consequences of this legislation could have a destabilizing effect at just the wrong time as the america's economy struggles to recover and working families are doing everything in their power just to hold on. the late senator moynihan -- the late senator moynihan often warned about the perils of a
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majority party pushing through major bills and changes in a partisan way. it's a well-founded warning that democratic leadership has not heeded this time at least. if a bill like this one can't get support more broadly, then something is wrong with it. moreover, grass roots america has spoken out against this legislation. it's alarming how those voices have been disregarded by congressional leaders. president andrew jackson made it clear that our duty is to tune in to common sense of the american people who sent us here. i quote president jackson -- "our government is founded upon the intelligence of the people. i, for one, do not despair of the republic. i have great confidence in the virtue of the great majority of the people, and i cannot fear
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the result." end of president jackson's quote. friends and colleagues, listen to what president jackson said. listen to the concerns of the people. they are telling us to reconsider this massive, complicated legislation and take a path that leads to less spending, less taxes, and less debt. instead of continuing to mortgage the future of our children and grandchildren, we need to get back to basics. congress should pass commonsense medical malpractice reform to stop wasting so much money on defensive medicine. congress should empower consumers to shop around for health care and lower costs with competition, just like with other services that the consumers buy. congress should make market reforms that help small
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businesses and self-employed have greater access to health insurance at an affordable rate. these issues can be addressed without upending the entire health care system. with the results of higher taxes -- the presiding officer: the senator has used 20 minutes. mr. grassley: i'll just use one more, and then i'll be done. these issues can be addressed without upending the entire health care system with the result of higher taxes, higher insurance premiums and deficits and debts that will get in the way of opportunity that results from the ingenuity and industry of the american people. and if we were sitting around a coffee shop in springfield, illinois, or little rock, arkansas, and we were discussing health care reform and i told them we're talking about a bill that is going to raise taxes, cut medicare, raise premiums and not do anything about costs,
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they would say that's not health care reform. so i encourage my colleagues to listen to the american people and to send this bill back to the drawing board. i yield the floor. mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: p-t distinguished senator from wyoming. mr. enzi: as morning broke over our nation today millions of americans woke to a typical crisp fall day. it seemed ordinary as children filled soccer fields and families made preparations for the thanksgiving holiday. it seemed ordinary, mr. president. but today is anything but ordinary in the life of our nation. we've all heard the phrase and repeated it so many times that we have almost grown numb to it. america is facing the worst crisis since the great depression. think about that for a minute. what that really means is that
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every single legislator in this senate is in uncharted territory. we have never been here before, and recent signs of a slow, unsteady and jobless recovery are troubling. and the american people know it. in a survey from this past week, 82% of americans said that our nation's economic conditions are poor. consider the news report from just yesterday that 14% of all mortgage loans, meaning 7.4 million households, were delinquent in -- or in foreclosure in the last quarter. that's the highest number since the mortgage bankers industry began this survey in 1972. consider the unemployment rate. it reached a 26-year we lost 190,000 jobs in just the month of october alone. according to the department of labor "so broad as measures, 17.5% of americans are without a
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job or underemployed. mr. president, we have shed 3.5 million jobs since january of this year and the average workweek is now down to 33 hours for the american worker. it is against this backdrop that the senate majority leader has chosen to bring up this health care bill. health reform is a huge undertaking, mr. president. every one of the 2007 to four pages in this bill will have a dramatic impact on the health care of every american. i have to tell you, this is a bigger problem than anyone can imagine because it will affect every single american. this bill represents a massive government intrusion into the medical care of every american. the government will review every employer health insurance plan in the nation to determine if that satisfies all of the government-mandated benefit requirements.
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employers. the government will also now determine whether it believes your health insurance costs too much. it will decide what benefits should be covered and what preventive services you should receive. earlier this week the u.s. preventive services task force recommended that women under age 50 should not receive annual mammograms. anyone who is concerned about this decision needs to understand that this bill empowers the task force just like that to determine which preventive services should be covered by every health plan in america. as one of the only members of the senate to sit on both the committees of health care jurisdiction, i understand the complexity at work in comprehensive health care legislation. and i understand that this bill gets it wrong. instead of taking a step-by-step approach to health reform, identifying consensus reforms where we can fix what's broken
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and leave what works, the majority leader has chosen a different approach. without republican support and without the approval of a growing majority of american people, senator reid has chosen to shake nearly 20% of the economy in its foundation in attempt to go jam through a -- attempting to jam through a partisan bill. this bill will do nothing to improve the quality of our care. it will increase our nation's debt and deficit and it will harm our nation's tenuous job market. mr. president, there is no credible study and there will be no serious unbiased economist who will say that this bill will create jobs or strengthen our economy. and that's what the people in the recent election said was the most important thing to take care of. recently in an op-ed in the "wall street journal" the dean of the harvard medical school, dr. jeffrey flyer, gave the
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current health reforms a failing grade. this dean of the harvard medical school wrote about the reform bills being debated in congress, and he said that -- quote -- "there are no provisions to substantially control the growth of costs or raise the quality of care, so the overall effort will fail to qualify as reform." that's the dean of the harvard medical school. dean flyer went on to write -- quote -- "in discussions with dozens of health care leaders and economists, i find near unanimity of that opinion. whatever its shape, the final legislation that will emerge from congress will markedly accelerate national health care spending rather than restrain it. likewise, nearly all agree that the legislation will do little or nothing to improve quality or change health care's dysfunctional delivery system."
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end of quote. i ask unanimous consent that this editorial be included in its entirety in the record at the conclusion of my statement. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. enzi: with ratings of failed reform like the dean of the harvard medical school, we're talking about taking the time to tweak a failure of ideas so that we can say we did something. we're not fooling the american people *fplt the voices of august are still echoing and coming from a vast majority. other experts have weighed in on the provisions in the reid bill and their potential impact on jobs. one such provision is the job-killing tax of $28 billion that will fall disproportionately on the backs of small business employers in the form of a mandate on employers to provide washington government-approved insurance. this job-killing tax has been studied by the nonpartisan scorekeepers at the
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congressional budget office as well as nationally recognized economists and health skperpts. this -- health experts. these experts have said the cost of this new tax will ultimately be paid by the american working men and women. businesses who cannot afford to provide health insurance will pass the cost of these new penalties on to their workers in the form of lower wages, reduced hours and jobs cut. yes, this so-called health reform bill will threaten your jobs. and if this vote is successful, we will spend weeks debating this bill. and just like the committee work so far, the majority will reject real solutions just like they have through the two amendment processes that have been merged to make this flawed bill. according to one recent study by the heritage foundation, this new job-killing tax in the reid bill will place more than 5 million low-income workers at risk of losing their jobs or
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having their hours reduced and an additional 10 million workers could see lower wages and reduced benefits. at a time of unprecedented economic peril, the majority has chosen to bring a bill to the senate that will threaten our nation's jobs and economic growth. this bill will also increase our nation's growing debt and deficit, mr. president. currently our nation's debt is greater than $12 trillion and our deficit for fiscal year 2009 was greater than $1.4 trillion. as a percentage of the economy, our deficit is 10% of g.d.p., the highest its been since second world war. once again we're not debating this bill in a vacuum. rather, we're debating this bill at a time when our credit card is maxed out. i worry about the country that i'm leaving for my children and my grandchildren. our nation is being buried under a mountain of debt which poses a deadly threat to the future of
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our nation. the federal government will spend $1.4 trillion more than it receives in revenue this year. the government will make up that deficit by borrowing more money, mostly from china and other foreign governments. these levels of debt are not sustainable and our foreign creditors are beginning to recognize that fact. as our creditors grow more concerned about our ability to pay our debt obligations, the interest rates we pay will grow. that means that it will soon cost us considerably more to allow washington to continue to borrow money than it needs to fund its current spending binge. with our current growing debt, congress should be concerned. think about it. our most fundamental duty as members of congress is to wisely meaning the power of the purse for our nation. the framers wisely put in place the process of appropriations that would be annually checked by the representatives of the
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american people here in washington. in this bill we create yet another stream of mandatory spending in perpetuity, or until it runs out. it isn't reviewed by congress on any annual basis. i remind my colleagues that our federal deficit is nearly nine times the size of the deficit just two years ago. ask during the same two-year period, our nation lost 8 million private-sector jobs. our total federal debt is now around 85% of g.d.p. according to the david walker, the former head of the government accounting office, at the end of the fiscal year 2000, the federal government had about $20.4 trillion in total liabilities and commitments and unfunded promises for just social security and medicare. that number rose to $56.4 trillion at the end of fiscal 2008. that's 176% increase in just
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eight years. by the end of this year, that number is expected to rise to $63 trillion. with these staggering statistics, it's astonishing that we're even debating a creation of a new entitlement, entitlement obligations forever. a couple of days ago, majority leader reid stated that this bill will be deficit-neutral. but yo you have to understand wt that means. first, the true cost of this bill is hidden by implementing the massive middle-class tax increases and medicare cuts in the first year and pushing the massive costs in health care subsidies out to the fifth year. republican leader mcconnell referred to this gimmick as being akin to paying a mortgage for four years before actually moving into the house. i want to emphasize that just a little bit because it is -- it is an accounting gimmick. you collect the money to begin
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with but you don't provide the benefits until further down the road. and then you say, well, we covered all those costs. but when you extend it on out, it won't continue to cover those costs. so disaster. so i'm -- i'm -- as the only accountant in the senate, i'm shocked to see what would constitute as fraud in the accounting world seems to be the reason to hold a press conference to do a hollow boast. the gimmick gimmicks in this bie stunning, when it comes to the implementation of the tax on the so-called cadillac health plans or the increased taxes or the $464 billion in medicare cuts. medicare cuts? we're already having a problem with medicare solvency. it's going to go broke and we're going to take $464 billion from medicare. and then we're going to form
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sperm commission and -- a special commission and this commission will be able to tell us on an annual basis where we can make cuts in medicare so that it doesn't go broke. but let's see, there's a deal with the hospitals that they're not going to be touched and there's a deal with the doctors that they're not going to be touched and, in fact, they're just going to be increased and there's a deal with pharma where they're not going to be touched. who does that leave? that means cutting benefits for seniors. they and home health care and nursing homes are the only places that you can cut it if you let those other people off the hook, and that's what the bill does. so when it comes to long-term care provisions in the bill that the budget committee chairman conrad has referred to as a ponzi scheme, you have to be a little bit worried. if washington accounting had to come under the same laws as private business, the administration and congress would be in jail. to attempt to claim the mantle
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of fiscal responsibility, the majority leader has jammed 10 pounds of entitlement spending into a five-pound sack. and, again, "entitlement" means that the payments automatically go on forever, with no further review or constraint. that's not the fiscal responsibility, and the american people are not buying it. they know, evidently better than we do, what we're talking about. a large majority of americans believe their prescription drug costs will go up under this bill and that the cost of their premiums will go up, and they're right. what the c.b.o. score doesn't provide us with and can't provide us with is the cost of this bill to each and every one of us. but we know that that cost will be great. now, the c.b.o. evaluation says that -- that it's going to be paid for.
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paid for? that's an evaluation whether it's going to cost the government anything. it's not an evaluation whether it's going to cost the people anything. and the only place to get that money is from the people or, in this case, also stealing it from medicare. in order for this bill to reduce the deficit, the majority leader has to assume that the medicare payments to physicians will be cut by 21% next year. he also has to assume that these payments will be annually cut another 5% for the next nine years. in order for this bill to reduce the deficit, the majority leader also has to assume that more and more middle-class americans will pay this new tax on high-cost health insurance plans. according to the congressional budget office, 84% of the revenue collected by this new tax will come from americans earning less than $200,000 in 2019.
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this reminds me of another tax which was originally intended to target just 155 individuals who made more than $200,000 and did not pay any income tax. today the alternative minimum tax now hits millions of middle-class americans, and every year congress has to enact legislation to prevent it from hitting millions more. this bill's drafted that same way. it will creep up there and catch everybody in the increased taxes. in order to believe that this bill will reduce the deficit, its sponsors must believe that future congresses will allow millions of middle-class americans to be subject to these new taxes. while the majority leader claims that all these things will happen, the american public isn't fooled. in this morning's "washingt the dean of washington's journalists, david broder, someone often cited by the other
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side, pointed out that a recent survey found that less than 1/5 of the american people believe that health care reform will be deficit-neutral over the next 10 years. by a 16-poitn margin, the majority said they opposed the legislation moving through congress. mr. broder called this a "budget-buster in the making." mr. president, it is difficult to quantify the scope of this bill. i have heard some of my colleagues talk about how many years it would last in 2.5 trillion seconds. $2.5 trillion would buy or how many school districts it would fund, or how many decades it would fund state budgets across america. i don't think people are comprehensive -- understanding either how comprehensive this
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bill is that entails 100% of the people. that's the difficulty we had in the group of six coming to any kind of conclusions, because it's so big, that as we get into one area and we scratch the surface and find out what we don't know, it takes a lot of surface and find out what we don't know, it takes a lot of re able to make basic decisions. but it was easy to cram into a bill and say this solves it -- solves it for a trillion dollars. we should never say a trillion dollars because that sounds just like one and one's not a very big number. it's a thousand billion. a thousand billion dollars. now, we really don't know what a billion is either, but a billion is a thousand million. so we're talking about a lot of money here. perhaps the best way to quantify this bill is that it keeps me up nights and, more importantly, these issues we are debating keeps our constituents up at night. i'm sure everybody's been hearing from their constituents.
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we worry immensely about the cost and the obligations that we're passing on to our children and grandchildren. where is this bill taking our country? and will we have the courage in our time to preserve and protect our nation's great strengths for future generations? these are the questions that keep me up at night, and i know these concerns are shared on the other side of the aisle. i sense it in conversations that i've had with the senior senator from delaware and the senior senator from nebraska, and i've sensed it my work over the summer with the chairman of the budget committee. i know that they share these concerns on the other side, and that's why i believe passionately that we must defeat the motion to proceed on this bill. i'm still an optimist and i still hope that we can start over and get to work on a bipartisan bill that has the trust and support of the american people. any major piece of legislation that has gone through this body has done so in a bipartisan way.
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it's been necessary to get the confidence of the american people, the confidence of the american people. they don't have confidence in congress right now, and this bill is not helping it. you know, we say that we're spending our children and our grandchildren's money? actually, we're doing that plus spending our seniors' money. when you take medicare money, that's what you're doing. the seniors have figured it out. that's why it was so raucous in august and ever since. they have been concerned about their future and the promises that were made to them. we have a system that's going broke and then we're going to take money from it. we really ought to back up and make sure that medicare money goes to medicare. i know part of that's listed as fraud and abuse and i'm always fascinated when government talks about fraud and abuse, because we talk about it, but if we've known that these billions of dollars of fraud and abuse were
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out there, how come we haven't been collecting that money? and once we turn it over to the government to do that, it's no longer needed -- oh, it's needed to pay the bills but it's no longer that much of a care, because the paid-for has already been taken care of. so i think there ought to at least be a separate account set up that you actually have to collect the fraud and abuse money before you can spend it, but we're not going to do that. and every senior can tell you some instances of fraud and abuse that they think are happening there, and we pass those on. i don't see -- i see some effort to collect that but not a lot. so, mr. president, as many of my colleagues know, before i came to the senate, i was a small business owner. my wife and i owned three small shoe stores in wyoming and montana. when i was showing someone a shoe and he or she said they didn't like it or couldn't afford it, i didn't try to just give them a sales pitch.
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i knew it was time to try to find another shoe, one that they liked and could afford. there's a lesson from this in this health care bill. the people of america are complaining and we're showing them the shoe that we want to show them. and they don't want to see that shoe. they said, we thought you were going to lower my costs. we thought that every person -- every person out there thought they were going to have a benefit of some reduced costs, and they're not seeing it in this bill. now, they wanted to help out other people, and some of that's in here to a limited extent, but that isn't the main thing that they expected to have happen from this. small businesses out there are particularly hurting, and this will really react on small businesses, those shoe stores all over the united states, the grocery stores, the dry cleane
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cleaners. heck, this is even going to affect the doctors. they're small businesses, for the most part. so there's a lesson in this story when to comes to reforming health care, and it's time to listen to the customers and find an alternative that they expected, that they want, and they can afford. probably the biggest help that's been to me in legislative has been that experience of working in a shoe store, because the people tell you what they want. and they've told us what they want. we haven't listened. you want to make the sale? you better listen. you better see how your inventory matches up to what they want. we haven't checked that inventory at all, or else we've said we don't have anything in here that you really need but we have some things that will take care of other people. and that's not going to sell. so, mr. president, we have a big decision to make tonight. it will have a lasting affect on our country, a lasting effect
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mostly in that if the motion to proceed passes, we're going to debate it for a long time. a bill of this size deserves a lot of time. it's necessary and it's more comprehensive than we're going to be able to get into no matter how long we debate it. and so the american people are going to be surprised at the time that we waste when we could be solving jobs and the economy, which is their biggest concern at the present time. i'd ask that the rest of my statement be included in the record, and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: without objection.
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the presiding officer: the chair recognizes the senator from montana. mr. baucus: i ask that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that jacqueline lampert be granted floor prills for the consideration of h.r. 3590. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. baucus: a noted psychologist once said, to be mature means to face and national evade a crisis. our health care system is in a crisis. this crisis has been decades in the making, and history has made clear that this crisis will not solve itself. it is time for us to face the crisis. it is time for congress to show
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mature leadership. it is time for us to reform health care once and for all. for years now we have prepared for this moment. the finance committee and the "help" committee studied the issues thoroughly. we have held nearly 70 hearings, round tables, and walk-throughs. we have studied this issue very thoroughly and exhaustively. we each produced a blueprint for reform, each committee, and we worked together with leader reid and president obama to combine those blueprints into one solved plan. this week, tonight, we have brought that plan to the senate floor. tonight we seek to begin that momentous debate. tonight we seek at last to face the crisis. we have a bill that'll put americans, patientsings and their doctors back in --
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patients, and their doctors back in control. we have a bill that will end harmful insurance industry practices. under our bill, no longer will insurance companies be allowed to deny you health insurance; no longer will insurance companies be allowed t allowed hike up prr americans for diseases like heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. no longer will health insurance companies be able to take away your health insurance, reduce benefits, when people get sick. under our bill, no longer will insurance companies be able to limit the amount of health care that you can use in a lifetime. no longer will insurance companies be able to put unreasonable limits on the amount of health care that you can use in one year. if you pay your bill, an insurance company must renew your coverage and provide your benefits. no longer will insurance
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companies be able to discriminate based on gender or health status. no longer will insurance companies be able to charge more for women or for people who are sick. our bill will also require insurance companies to disclose a share of premiums that go to medical benefits. that's new and very important. no longer will insurance companies receive tax credits when they use your profits to provide excessive executive paychecks. our bill is fully paid for. it's fiscally responsible. it will lower health care costs, and it will reduce the federal budget deficit. according to the congressional budget office, our bill will reduce the deficit by $130 billion in the first ten years. over the next decade, it will further reduce the deficit by about a quarter of a percent of
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gross domestic product. that's hundreds of billions of dollars in deficit reduction. as well, our bill provides billions in tax cuts for american families and small businesses. our bill will create new marketplaces called insurance exchanges. individuals and small businesses will be able quickly and easily to view, compare, and buy health insurance plans. today many americans already receive quality health care coverage through their employers. many are happy with their current insurance plans. this bill will not change that. we keep the best of our current health care system. people who are satisfied with their current health insurance coverage will be able to keep it. but too many others don't have access to insurance, to quality insurance. for too many, the system is broken. under our bill, new exchanges
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will provide one-stop shops where plant are presented in a simple, consistent format. americans will be able to know exactly what they are buying. insurance companies will have to compete on price and quality, not on ability to select the healthiest people or hide restrictions. americans will be able to count on the health care coverage that they buy. and tax credits will help to ensure that all americans can afford quality health insurance. small businesses will also have access to exchanges and tax credits. through small business exchanges, these companies will be able to pool together, to spread their risk, increase their leverage, and enhance their choice just as big companies do. and members of congress will be required to buy their health insurance from the same exchanges.
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the exact same. our bill will strengthen medicare. it will improve benefits for seniors. it will help to ensure that medicare is sustainable for future generations. our bill will cut costs and will not cut benefits. our bill will increase medicare benefits. our bill will provide seniors with reproductive care and wellness check ups and will improve care for seniors with chronic conditions and will provide a 50% discount on brand- name prescription drugs to help close the doughnut hole. our plan is a good, commonsense answer to the crisis facing american families and businesses. now on this floor, here in the united states senate, tonight we have an historic opportunity to consider this plan.
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we have the chance to make it even better. we hope to have a full debate. more important than the process or rhetoric, we have the opportunity at last to face the crisis. we have the opportunity to show mature leadership. at last long, we have the opportunity, the historic opportunity, to reform health care once and for all. health care is knocking on the door. let's open it. let's begin the debate to improve this bill before us today and provide the service that all americans expect us to perform when they elect us to this office. i yield the floor. mr. dodd: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. dodd: mr. president, i rise in very strong support of this melded bill, drafted and
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put together by our distinguished leader, the patient protection and affordable care act. and before i begin with some brief remarks, mr. president, let me extend my hear heartfelt thanks to our majority leader for his tireless work, to thank max baucus of montana for his tireless work, the members of the committees that have worked over the past many, many months to bring us to this moment, others this evening have spoken with great eloquence, in my view, about the provisions of this bill, what we hope to achieve for our fellow citizens with the adoption of this legislation. i want to commend the senate "help" committee, which did such heheroic work during the writing of our portion of the bill. my colleagues, senator harkin, barbara mikulski, jeff bingaman, patty murray of the state of
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washington and so many others. i want to thank my republican colleagues of that committee as well. while we didn't end up with a bipartisan vote at the end of that very long process, mr. president, we did end up adopting more than 150 amendments offered by my republican colleagues to that bill, which i think strengthened the legislation and made it a better piece of legislation that we have as a part of us this evening. i also want to pause for a moment, if i can, mr. president, to recognize a colleague who is here tonight only in spirit, ted kennedy. so much has been said and written about his lifelong quest to ensure that every american -- every american -- has decent health care. tonight we and in the days to come will pay him the highest compliment as our colleague by fulfilling that quest of achieving the goal that all americans aspire for, and that is a national health care plan that serves every one of our
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citizens. i'd like to speak briefly, if i could, to the american people who are at home this evening, i suspect, and just tuning into this debate, this important vote that will occur momentarily. why does this issue and this debate matter? why are we here on a saturday evening? but then again, for that matter, why are you watching c-span on a saturday evening, i might add? well, for one thing, mr. president, health care represents one-sixth of our economy and affects 100%, as we all know, of the population of this country. and it is true that skyrocketing health care costs are the single-biggest threat to the financial future of our fellow citizens. but the reason tonight's vote is so historic, beyond those last two points, is that never, ever before -- never before, mr. president -- has this body elected to serve the american people confronted directly this simple truth:
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nothing, absolutely nothing, matters more to you and to your family than the ability to get the health care you need when you need it from the doctor you choose at a price you can afford. health care is our most basic need. health care is the most basic commitment that we should be willing to make to each other. no matter what your family finances, no matter what your hopes and dreams are, no matter who you are or where you live or what your job is, in america, in our 21st century america, mr. president, we should be able to get the care that you need. but for too many american families -- perhaps your family, as you watch this tonight from your homes -- health care has become your most basic fear. you don't have health insurance, you go to bed every single night knowing that if you wake up sick, your child does, you might not be able to see that doctor or afford one, if you can even
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find one. even if you have health insurance, you're paying more and more in premiums and gedsing less and less coverage -- and getting less and less coverage for your money. millions of you are seeing your premiums skyrocket and yet you lie awake at night -- millions do, mr. president -- wondering, what if i lose my job? what if i get saingdz find out my -- what if i get sick and find out that my policy doesn't cover me? or what if you run out of benefits and have to pay out of your pocket? i wish i could say that these fears are irrational fears. bur they're not, mr. president. there's nothing irrational about those fears. insurance doesn't allow you to be sure of anything these days. our system as we all know -- all 100 of us know that our system is broken. people are losing their homes because they get sick. people are dying because they can't afford a cure.
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this is just not acceptable in our america, mr. president. and that's why we're here on a saturday night. if you watch the news over the past few months, you probably noticed there is a wide range of opinions on how we should fix things p and that's how it -- and that's how it should be mr. president. we need all the ideas that we can get. if you also watch the debate in the senate over the last few days, you probably noticed something else as well. i don't believe a single person in this body has stood up at any point and said that we're okay doing nothing at all. therefore in the weeks ahead -- the presiding officer: the time has expired. mr. dodd: to have a full and open debate, mr. president, to every provision in this bill. but tonight's vote is nothing more than a choice. a choice between doing something or doing nothing. and i would urge my colleagues to -- this evening to join us, hopefully unanimously, to say
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that we should do something -- we should do something about this most basic right that all americans deserve. and i yield the floor. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader's recognized. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, the nation is watching the senate tonight. the american people know how important this vote is. they've seen the bill -- the democratic leaders -- the bill that the democratic leaders want to impose upon them, and they want to know where the rest of us will stand. this bill itself is a massive
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monument to bureaucracy and spending. but at its core it's really quite simple. at a moment when more than one out of 10 working americans is looking for a job, at a time when the chinese are lecturing us about our debt, this bill -- this bill right here cost costs $2.5 trillion government doesn't have. and can't afford.
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it imposes punishing taxes on almost everyone. it raises health insurance premiums on the 85% of americans who already have health insurance. and if that were not bad enough, it slashes medicare by half a trillion dollars. anyone who votes aye tonight, mr. president, is voting for all of these things. now, mr. president, it is a fact, a vote in favor of proceeding to this bill is a vote in favor of adding to the tax burden of the american people in the midst of double-digit unemployment. a vote in favor of proceeding to
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this bill is a vote to raise health insurance premiums on people who were told -- they were told that they could expect their health insurance costs to go down. a vote in favor of proceeding to this bill is a vote in favor of deep cuts to medicare for tens of millions of seniors. -- seniors who depend on it totally. a vote to proceed to this bill is a vote to continue the completely out-of-control spending binge congress has been on all year. a vote in favor of this bill tells every american family sitting in a waiting room
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tonight wondering when they'll get to see a doctor or how much it's going to cost, it's not our concern. and worst of all, a vote in favor of this bill is a vote in favor of the spending binge that's leading to a massive and unsustainable long-term debt that will smackl shackle our chn to a future they can't afford. that's what tonight's vote is all about. if it wasn't, none of us would be here on a saturday night with the nation watching and waiting to see what we do here. they're watching because they know that none of this -- none of this is inevitable.
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all it takes is one vote, just one. the simple math is this, if there were one democrat, just one of our friends on the other side of the aisle -- just one who would say no tonight, none of this would happen. the voices of the american people would be heard. we've seen all the surveys. we know how they feel. if just one democrat were to say no tonight, he'd be saying no to the premium increases, no to the tax cuts, no to the medicare cuts. just one on the other side of the aisle. and then we could start over with a commonsense step-by-step
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approach to fix the problem that got us here in the first place, and that was that health care costs too much. now, purchas mr. president, thed irony of this whole debate, the problem that got us here is that health care costs are out of control. and, yet, the neutral nonpartisan congressional budget office, the score keeper around here, says that under this bill -- this massive bill, eric -- health care costs are want to go up, not down. that is what this whole debate was about in the first place. so, 200074 pages and trillions
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of dollars later, -- 2074 pages later, this bill does not even meet the basic goal that the american people had in mind and that they thought this debate was all about. this bill will actually make the situation worse. and now we are about to vote on it. we have heard some senators come to the floor today and say that they oppose this bill, but they do not want to stop the debate. they opposed the bill but they do not want to stop the debate. mr. president, no one is suggesting that we stop the debate. no one, not a single senator on this side of the aisle have we
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heard suggest that we stop the debate. but if we do not stop this bill tonight, the only debate we will be having -- the only debate we will be having is about higher premiums, not savings to the american people, higher taxes instead of lower costs, and cuts to medicare rather than to improving seniors care. that is what the debate will be about. the american people, and 40 of us sitting on the side of the aisle are not asking to end the debate. that is not what we have in mind, to into the debate. change it. because once we get on this bill, ladies and gentlemen, the
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basic dimensions will not change. the basic dimensions will not change. so i ask: why should we consider a bill we already know the american people oppose? this is not anything anybody's in doubt about. the american people think if you don't like this bill, you've got an obligation to try to stop it. and that opportunity will come at 8:00. now i'm sure this won't come as a surprise to any member of senate, but it's going to take 60 votes to change this bill. that means the bill is introduced, this thing we're looking at right here, will
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fundamentally be the bill we'll be asked to pass sometime in the future. that is a fact. now, after tonight's vote we'll all go home and face our constituents. we'll have to tell them how we voted on raising their premiums, raising their taxes, and cutting their medicare. for some of us that's not going to be a very easy conversation. but it doesn't have to be that way. if you really want to lower costs and premiums, then we can work together step by step and
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pass the commonsense reforms the american people have been asking for all along. we can end jian junk lawsuits at doctors and hospitals which drive up costs. we can encourage healthy choices like prevention and wellness programs which hold down costs. we can lower costs by letting consumers buy coverage across state lines. we can allow small businesses to band together to get lower insurance rates. and certainly we can address the rampant -- absolutely rampant waste, fraud, and abuse that drive up cost. all of those, my colleagues, are changes worth making.
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the american people are looking at the senate tonight. they're hoping we say no to this bill. so we can start on a better plan that fixes the problem that the american people care about most, than is cost. they want us to start over. there's nothing about this massive bill that they like. they want us to start over. they want us to address their real concerns. all it would take, mr. president and my colleagues, is just one member of the other side of the aisle, just one, to give us an opportunity not to end the debate, but to change the debate
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in the direction the american people would like us to go. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: my dear friend, the republican leader, has had since wednesday to read this bill. obviously he hasn't done so. because the facts he's talking about do not exist except in the mind of a few people who don't understand this legislation. now, mr. president, for 200 years we've styled ourselves, the world's greatest deliberative body, deliberation necessarily implies discussion and great issues, necessarily require great debate. today we vote on whether -- to even discuss one of the greatest issues of our generation, indeed, one of the greatest issues this body has ever faced. whether this nation will finally guarantee its people the right
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to live free from fear of illness and death, which can be prevented by decent health care for all. in the coming weeks, we'll finally put people, not insurance companies, in charge of their lives. the road to this point has been started many times. it has never been completed. merging two such large and consequential bills has never been done before. it's been an enormous undertaking and we would not be in the position without the unflagging dedication of many senators and extremely loyal staff members. at the top of the list are chairman baucus and dodd, who've shown dedication, determination in recent weeks and months that's rarely been seen. i'm proud of every single senator's input and especially proud of the two most recent classes of senators, elected with strong mandates for progress, they've demonstrated a studious approach to our historic endeavor and an unwavering belief that all americans should be able to afford to live a healthy life.
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mr. president, i want to explain why we're holding this important vote at this hour. as a matter of principle that i respect, the senior senator from arkansas insisted that we vote not only after senators had the time -- only after senators had the time to read and understand this bill. senators all have now had ample time to do so and that is because of the chairman of the agriculture committee, senator blanche lincoln of arkansas. mr. president, as i have done many times this year, privately and personally, as well as publicly, i again invite my colleagues, my republican colleagues, join on the right side of history. i again invite them to join us at the very least in a debate about our future. around dining room tables in nevada and across the nation, families are agonizing over what to sacrifice next to buy health insurance. they're questioning whether to fill a prescription or go
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without it and hope for the best. employers are wondering whether they can afford to provide health care to their employees. they're asking how their businesses can survive while health care costs grow faster than ever. americans need health insurance reform. debate is constant between television commentators, the editorial pages of great newspapers and magazines, but, mr. president, the only place where silence is even considered is here in the united states senate. now, tonight, finally we have the opportunity to bring this debate where it belongs. we finally have the opportunity to bring this great deliberation to this great deliberative body. that and nothing more is what tonight's vote does. a yes vote says to america, i know this issue is important to your family and to our country and the senate should at the very least talk about it. let's be real transparent. beyond all the hype and
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hyperbole and the hyperventilation, that and nothing more is what tonight's vote does. a yes vote says to america, i know the issue is important to your family and to our country and the senate should at least talk about it. mr. president, some of my republican friends would like the american people to think that voting to debate the bill is voting to pass the bill. any high school civics textbook will tell you the suggestion is absolutely false. tonight's vote is not the end of the debate, it's only the beginning of the debate. it's clear by now that my republican colleagues have no problem talking about health care: radio interviews, television interviews, press conferences, little town hall meetings. my distinguished counterpart, the republican leader, has given many speeches in this chamber on the issue of health care reform, yet now that we have the actual legislation to debate, to amend,
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to build on, now that we have a plan on paper and not just wild rumors, well, they refuse to debate. after all, if we're not debati debating, if we refuse to let the senate do its job, what are we doing here? if senators refuse to debate about a profound crisis affecting every single citizen, the nation must ask: what do you fear? and whose voice do you speak? and whose interests do you vote? surely, deliberating health reform can't be more difficult than deciding, as americans have to do, whether to pay your mortgage or to pay your medical bills. it can't be more painful than not taking your child to the doctor because it costs too mu much. it can't are more humbling than facing your own employees and telling them, "i'm sorry, you can't count on me for your
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health insurance next year. you're on your own." and it can't be more upsetting than having an insurance company take away your coverage at the exact moment you need it the most. my republican friends, there's nothing to fear in debate. president kennedy once said -- and i quote -- "let us not be afraid of debate or discussion. let us encourage it." be not afraid of debate -- it's our job, and it's exactly what the legislative process is all about: discussing, amending, improving. we democrats stand ready to do what needs to be done. we welcome debate. we encourage debate. does any united states senator seriously think the founders conceived the senate and its rules in hopes that legislation would never be deliberated? of course not. did the framers of the constitution explicitli enumerae the powers of the senate but in
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truth hope this body avoided the hardest and most urgent questions of the day? of course not. did our nation's visionaries build this building, this capitol building, and design this great chamber that we stand in tonight only so that it would remain dark and silent? quite to the contrary. imagine if instead of debating either of the historic g.i. bills, legislation that have given so many brave americans the chance to brave college, if this body had stood silent. imagine if instead of debating the bills that created social security or medicare, the senate's voices had been stil stilled. imagine if instead of debating whether to abolish slavery, instead of debating whether giving women and minorities a right to vote, those who disagreed were muted, discussion was killed, there would be no vote. so i say to my republican senators, don't try to silence a great debate over a great cris
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crisis. don't let history show that when given the chance to debate and defend your position, to work with us for the good of our country and constituents, you ran and hid. you cannot wish away a great emergency by closing your eyes and pretending it doesn't exist. there is an emergency and it exists, and it exists now. the right response to disagreement is not dismissal. it's discussion. democracy is discussion. democracy needs deliberation. let us debate our differences. on some, we'll find common ground. on others, we may not. but let's at least tell america, its legislators, the united states senate is willing to find where we -- where we can come together. nobel prize awardee andrei sakharov, one of the great thinkers of the past century, knew that when opposing sides come together, the sum of their ideas can outweigh its parts. sakharov said, and i quote,
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"profound thoughts arise only in debate with the possibility of profound thoughts arise only in debate with the possibility. let a share our ideas in the united states senate. let us legislate. lotus deliberate. let us debate. our country cries for this debate. our country deserves this debate. our country needs this debate. >> the u.s. senate voted to move forward with the democrats' health care bill. the two independents voted democrats and all republicans opposed the bill. senator, which did not vote. you can see the senate live on c-span2.
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>> and ed meese, how did the senate's test vote turnout? >> it turned out along party lines. it was 60-39. one senator was not present to vote. it came down to the wire today. senator landry and sent to lincoln filled us in on how they would vote. they both democrats that were the last two to hold out on how they might vote on this motion to proceed now, senator harry reid was able to move on to his proposal to start the debate when they come back from the thanksgiving break and recess. the public auction has gotten the most attention. senator lender and centre lincoln -- senator lincoln were
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the one of the last holdouts. senator lieberman said he could not vote for something that has -- to either one no public option, or something that is not national or something that is not a government run. something that is triggered by a portability so that it to extend. that is something that senator snowe has supported. abortion will come up as an issue. some senators do not want federal funding. they say that that is the issue. >> you mentioned the senators lincoln and landrew. they said they would not necessarily vote in favor next time. >> this had a 60 vote threshold
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which required all 16 democrats on board because no republicans would want to vote for it tonight. when they try to finish up with the debates, they will need to have another vote that requires 60 votes and that is to in that debate so they can move on to have -- to end the debate so that they can move on. they said that unless changes are made, they are not going to vote for that. they could be four or more votes shy of getting this off the floor unless senator harry reid makes concessions. centrist democrats that are working on an alternative public auction to try and make that 60 vote threshold. >> this was clearly between party lines. >> i do not imagine that both parties will be able to get
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behind anything. there may be a few republican votes. in the senate, they could pick up a few votes. when they work to conference this legislation, it will have to have the 60 vote threshold in mind which increases their potential for bringing a key republicans on board because it makes the proposal have to be more in the middle rather than more to the left. >> did you tell us about the proposal? >> they have been working with senator schumer and senator landrew. it would create a nonprofit alternative public option. it is not government a run and it is not necessarily even national. it kicks in and there is no affordable insurance being
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offered by private insurance companies. it is probably a presidentially appointed board but there would be limited government involvement. they may help them get on track but they would not exactly have their hand in it. it would be something less national unless the government run and not have federal funding. it would have to operate just off of premiums. that could take care of some of the moderates. liberals think it is too watered down. it will be a fight when they return over whether they just need to vote for it anyway to get the 60 votes and have health care reform. >> we appreciate your time. >> as the focus on health care continues, c-span health care'-- s -- c-span's healthcare hub is
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a key resource. located at healthcare. >> in an effort to address the financial crisis, christopher dodd introduced legislation to overhaul the financial regulatory system. lawmakers delivered opening statements. this is 3 hours 35 minutes. >> the meeting will come to order. we hope this will become a very successful process in a markup of a bill and i want to begin by thanking each and every member over the last year-and-a-
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half that we have been grappling with these issues. these issues. we've had just this year alone, my staff tells me over 50 hearings on the subject matter of reg reform. and the participation of members of this committee has been nothing short of stellar. people have interest in it, being here for the hearings, the witnesses we've had before us. as we've listened to a wide range of people share with us their views on what we ought to do to minimize the events that occurred that brought us to the position we're in economically in our country, but as importantly if not more importantly in some ways you could argue looking forward to what we ought to do in order to guarantee we have a growing economy producing jobs, creating wealth, all of the things we aspire to as americans in our country. and that's why i'm grateful to all of you for your willingness to be involved in that, to participate in this effort. it's come to the point where we have to respond to this in a way now and try to come up with some ideas that will allow us to achieve those goals.
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and certainly i expect the diversity of opinion, reflected not only around this table, but among our colleagues who are not members of this committee who have seen that reflected in the house of representatives as they move forward in trying to fashion their view of what needs to be done and the reform of our financial institutions and regulatory bodies. and so today, just to give you some sense of all of this, my plan would be that today we have opening statements. i want people to feel free to take whatever time is necessary to express their views. to give you an idea from logistics standpoint, we'll be here until about noon for two hours, take a break, we'll reconvene at 3:00 if necessary. if we can get it done in a couple of hours, that'll be fine, as well, but if not, i'll be happy to come back and make time available so everybody gets a chance to be heard as we open the process. senator shelby and i have talked and i'm very grateful to my colleague from alabama. he cares deeply about these issues. we've known each other a long
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time, we work well together. and i'm grateful to him and his staff and others who are allowing us to work forward and to proceed in a way that we hope will allow us adequate time to analyze the various ideas and thoughts. i've asked members to submit by next wednesday, about a week, and this is not news to most of the members here, any amendments they would have to the proposal we've laid down. the following week my view would be to have a hearing around the third or fourth of december. i don't know if we've decided on the exact day, the confirmation hearing for ben bernanke to become the chair or continue his chair of the chairman of the federal reserve board. with the view in mind that the following week we come back, we would move forward with a markup. now obviously there's a lot of time between now and then. this as i said is a discussion draft. i use the words carefully, a discussion draft. it is designed specifically to
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invite members to share their views and thoughts. many of you have already, about the provisions in this bill. i look forward to the coming days for continued engagement with each and every member of this committee to share their thoughts and ideas on how to make this a stronger and better bill and to reflect not only what we think needs to be done but also the realities in which we've got to operate. so that's sort of a rough framework. i want to be flexible, i don't want to have a rigid process where people are under a gun to perform and within tight frameworks. as richard shelby has said, not likely to do anything as important as this undertaking for a long, long time. we need to do it right, carefully, we need to do it well. and i know every member of this committee feels as strongly about that point as i do. my intention is not to jam anybody or make them feel they have a gun to their head, but we need to move, as well, to achieve those results. with that as background, i'll be happy to entertain any questions people have about -- at least the agenda and how we intend to proceed over the coming weeks.
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obviously in the midst of all of this, we have a health care debate. this will be taxing members to be here, to participate, as well as to be engaged in that debate. and we'll try and do it in the way that doesn't exhaust everyone in the process. we've got a holiday season upon us, a lot of things going on. again, my thanks to each and every one of you and your staffs, by the way, who have been tremendously helpful. let me share my opening thoughts and i'll turn to senator shelby for his and we'll go down in order of the people who have appeared this morning and i'll prepare to stay here all day if necessary to listen to all of the comments people have. let me just say in your opening statements, prepared statements will be part of the record if you desire plus any documents or evidence you think would be worthwhile for the committee to have as part of the opening consideration. that'll be true of all of you here this morning. anyway, i'd like to begin this markup of restoring america's financial stabltd act by thanking my colleagues as i have
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and our respective staff for all the work they've done so far. over the last year, we have undertaken a thorough examination of our nation's economy. there were days last fall when several people around this table and i worked together and it seems as the very foundation of our economy would crumble. basic things, many of us had always taken for granted are the continuing flowing of credit, survival of major financial firms, the integrity of our markets themselves was thrown into serious doubt. the total collapse of the american economy was averted. only by the emergency infusion of hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars. we have pulled our economy back from the brink. all of us would acknowledge, but our examination found that the underlying problems in our financial sector leave us vulnerable to a relapse. i will say it is as plainly as i know how to, our economy would not survive another similar shock should it occur, in my view. as we sit here today, with
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gaping holes in our regulatory structure, we cannot tell our constituents that we're ready -- we cannot tell our constituents they're ready to prevent another shock. the government's principal role is to ensure its foundations, economic foundations are strong, secure, and sound, so businesses can flourish and create jobs and investors can have confidence in our markets and ordinary american citizens can make good decisions about their family finances without fear of fraud or abuse. but as we have found during the past year of hearings, our financial regulatory system created piece by piece by piece over the decades with little thought given to how it would function as a whole is simply unable to prevent staggering greed or unthinkable recklessness as we've seen from threatening our economic security. in fact, our system enabled the era of profound irresponsibility stretching from wall street to main street that caused this
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crisis. and as a result, american families are suffering through the worst economic crisis since the great depression of the 1930s. millions have lost their jobs, their homes, their retirement security, and their faith in our markets. they watch some of the people and institutions that were the very cause of the mess and collect millions of dollars in bonuses and receive -- they find himself unable to find jobs and wonder who is looking out for them. our approach should be by answering that basic question. who is watching out for them, the customers, the shareholders, the policyholders, the mortgage holders, and the individual that shows up and access is our markets in depends on the safety and soundness of them as well that their concerns will be well regarded. our plan creates a consumer
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protection agency with one mission, standing up for consumers. whether taking out a mortgage, getting a credit card, investing for retirement, americans deserve clearer information. they need to make wise decisions. they have become all too common in the marketplace. they need to know the financial products are safe. this needs to be a well on the attack. it is so fundamental to the well functioning of our financial markets. they argue, those that argue against this, that this new agency is a new bureaucracy. but it reduces bureaucracy by refining in the affected functions of various agencies. they argue that there will be limited credit availability. they pretty much shut down the market by themselves. by creating such an agency, we
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would make sure that credit becomes available again. i understand that this is not something new, but there is uncertainty and uncertainty breeds a certain amount of fear. . . ty bankers, credit unions, and others across the country that little will change for them. they will see the same examiners, even if another agency signs their paychecks, and they will not pay a penny more in additional assessments. on the other hand, for the first time, the non-bank competitors will be subject to the same kind will be subject to the same kind of routine examination and enforcement regime to which depository institutions have long been subject. more over, these companies will be forced to pay fees to support the agency's activities, another first i might add. the playing field will be levelled. of course, no american family has economic security if our economy as a whole isn't secure.
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we simply cannot allow the collapse of a few firms to threaten our entire economy ever, ever again. we must end once and for all too big to fail. our plan will create an independent council of regulators to identify risks so that government can act to prevent a crisis. we will have a mechanism in place to safely shut down large failing companies without destabilizing the entire financial system. no longer would the federal reserve's emergency lending authority be used to prop up a failed institution. a regulatory system was created in bits and pieces as i said earlier over decades and it shows. gaps and overlaps have allowed firms to choose their own regulators while some risky practices have been allowed to take place in the shadows with no regulation whatsoever. our plan as we proposed it here in this discussion draft would replace the myriad government agencies that failed, quite frankly, to reign in risky schemes of large banks and wall
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street firms with a single, empowered, transparent, competent, federal banking regulator. for firms that do play by the rules, this single predential regulator would provide clarity, cut red tape, and make it far easier to compete. for those institutions that would undermine the security of our economy would no longer be able to evade accountability by shopping for the weakest regulator. i want to emphasize two things about this proposal. first in my view it would protect the dual banking system. i believe in the dual banking system, and it will endure. second, it takes into consideration the fact that community banks who too often are grouped in with huge financial institutions have never posed and do not now pose the same risks. they can be safely regulated in my view separately from their larger counterparts. but the overlaps that have allowed a race to the bottom must be eliminated.
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meanwhile, regulatory gaps have allowed risky practices to fly beneath the radar, including over the counter derivatives, hedge funds, and asset back securities. our plan as we have proposed it in this discussion draft would eliminate those gaps. and we will demand transparency from credit rating agencies, holding them accountable for the quality of their ratings. to restore confidence in our markets and encourage investment, require companies to keep skin in the game so to speak. so they won't sell worthless securities to investors. and because public companies are owned by their shareholders we'll give them a greater say in how those companies are run and how executives are compensated. our plan already includes number of good ideas from a number of our colleagues from both sides of the equation that we talk about all the time in washington. these were not just drawn up by one group here. i've listened carefully to my colleagues over these many, many
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months. these are ideas, thoughts, and contributions. and while i haven't sat down with each member to write every word in this bill, they do, i think, reflect just generally some strong feelings held by many of us here on this committee. it is not a coincidence that they have chosen to hold this markup in the kennedy caucus room named for the three brothers who did so much to rally our country. i chose it because it is here, the center of the united states has wrestled with critical issues and so many pivotal moments in our nation's history going back 100 years. today we find ourselves as all of us, i think are aware at just such a moment again. today we face a crisis that has threatened the underpinnings of our nation's economy and the economic security of millions of american families. today we meet in the shadow cast by decades of inaction in which this city has failed to deliver the substantial reform that the american people have needed. today we confront a problem
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whose broad scope demands a comprehensive solution and one whose deep impact demands we be bold in our approach, thoughtful, constructive, reasonable, but bold, as well. our bill of this draft that i propose reflects the painful lessons that we've learned over this past year. but in addition to fixing mistakes in our outdated regulatory system, we clearly need to look forward, as well, in this century. the financial industry is constantly changing and our regulatory system needs to be, at least, ahead of the game or slightly so, not racing to catch up. we need a 21st century architecture and that's what our bill is designed to try and provide. this is a thorough, carefully constructed plan that promotes the kind of innovation that has long fuelled america's prosperity while protecting consumers and our economy as a whole. i welcome the discussion that will begin today, but let me be very, very clear, security of our economy is at stake. this is one of those moments in
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our nation's history that compels us to be bold and to do the work. it's the kind of moment that the brothers whose name this room now bears confronted throughout their careers in this body. then as now the status quo was unacceptable and inaction was not an option. failure to take strong action would be an act of legislative negligence. we cannot and will not protect a broken status quo. the american people have been through a lot over the last several years. this is not -- this is not -- there's not a center in this room today who doesn't hear the stories every single day. they are the business owners forced to shutter their doors, lay off workers because their credit is dried up, their senior citizens who have delayed their retirement because their 401(k)s have vanished. ordinary americans who did nothing wrong, but are paying a deep, deep price. they deserve an economy in which america can find jobs, manage
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their money, and build better futures for those families. they deserve real and meaningful change. and they're counting on each and every one of us to come together to act as united states senators, not as democrats, not as republicans, not as partisans, but american citizens who are endowed with the privilege of serving in this unique body to make an important change in how our economy functions, nothing less than that is at stake and the decisions we make in the coming days. and i welcome the advice and counsel of each and every one of you involved in this process. >> thank you, mr. chairman. earlier this year i called for a comprehensive investigation into the causes of our financial crisis. because i believe that the american people deserve a full accounting of what happened. i also believe that such an accounting would be absolutely necessary to lay a foundation for any future legislation. at that time i drew a parallel between the great depression of
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the 30s and the near collapse of our financial system in late 2008. 80 years ago, as this nation began its descent into what milton friedman termed the great contraction, this committee launched what was to become the pacora investigation. by all accounts an exhaustive examination of not only the origins of the '29 crash, but also of the individuals involved, including some of the most powerful financial figures in the country. the committee's investigation went on for more than two years and laid the foundation for ground-breaking legislation including the banking act of 1933 which created the fdic, the securities act of '33, and the securities exchange act of '34, which created the securities and exchange commission. ultimately chairman dodd chose not to pursue a committee-led investigation. rather over my initial
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objections, he advocated for a creation of an independent commission to examine and to report on the origins and causes of the crisis. in the absence of a committee effort, i reluctantly supported the creation. the irony is that the commission will not report their findings and recommendations until late next year, long after the president apparently wants a bill on his desk. as a chairman had said many times over the past year, this committee has held dozens of hearings. some of them were focussed on topics that were directly relevant to the crisis, many were not. the committee has heard from a number of witnesses over the past several months. many of these are experts in their fields and they had a great deal to say about what they thought happened and on how we should go about fixing it. expert opinions are interesting and often very valuable. but in the end, they're just opinions. legislations should be based on more than just opinions.
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we meet today to begin the consideration of a 1,139 page bill that remake the regulatory structure. i don't believe i can express in words what a significant undertaking this is. every citizen and every american business will be touched in some way by this legislation. its reach can be predicted in some ways and entirely unknown in others. it is the type of legislation that should be supported, i believe, by an exhaustive factual record and then be thoroughly scrutinized in its own right. i'm afraid that this bill fails both tests. the chairman has proposed legislation that he said will protect "consumers on our economy from another crisis like the one we're now in." comforting words, but are they true? one way to find out is to compare what we know about what
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happened about what this bill would actually do. the problem is that we don't actually know what happened. not everything. that work has still been done by the commission among others. certainly at this point, we must know something about what happened. many witnesses have accounted varying impressions and conclusions. all too often, however, even the experts have done little to no due diligence of their own. once again, opinions are nice, but facts are better. if our goal is to protect consumers and our economy from another crisis, we should gather, i believe, every bit of information available on every facet of the current crisis. we should then conduct our own analysis and reach our own conclusions. unfortunately, i don't believe we did that. for example, aig was at the epicenter of the crisis. one would think this committee would've gathered all of the relevant data in the financial products division and
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interviewed everyone that had anything to do with that debacle, including senior management. one would think we have done this. but that one would be wrong. bear sterns was the first financial institution to falter during the crisis. one would think we would've interviewed anyone that had anything to do with the failure of that institution. one would think we would've done this. but one would be wrong. lehman brothers was the next to fall when it became apparent that the federal government was not going to bail them out. one would think we would've conducted a thorough review of lehman's activities and risk management practices. again, one would be wrong. the chairman has repeatedly asserted that one of the main causes of this crisis was predatory lending. with that in mind, one would think that the committee would've conducted an exhaustive examination of predatory lending practices by investigating
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claims of fraud and deposing dozens of alleged predators. i think by now you get my point. mr. chairman, i will repeat probably for the last time knowing your determination to proceed that this committee has not done, i believe, the necessary work to even begin discussing changes of this magnitude. nevertheless, i know we're planning to move forward. you've laid down a bill before the committee and i will explain as quickly as i can this morning why i will not be supporting it at this time. i apologize if it takes some time, mr. chairman, it is after all, a very big bill we're considering. i will start by saying that we began this process sharing many of the same goals, and i don't believe that has changed. we both seek to end too big to fail and to enhance our resolution regime. we both believe that the regulatory structure needs to be modernized and streamlined while preserving the dual banking system. we agree that the federal reserve should have a limited
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we also agree that the consumer protections need to be strengthened. finally, we concur on the need to modernize the derivatives market to increase transparency, standardization, and competition. i hope these shared goals form the basis of a bipartisan agreement, and it might. unfortunately, that has eluded us. we need to provide a base bill that could be amended and agreed upon and we have concluded that the bill requires a complete rewrite and we intend at the proper time to offer a substitute. it will seek to address the problems that i want out enumerate. the chairman has stated this bill would end it too big to fail. this is a goal that we share. unfortunately, i believe the dodd bill does not and too big to fail. expands the federal government
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to bail out not only banks but any of the large politically connected companies. for example, section 210 of the proposed legislation allows the fdic to provide an open bank assistance not only the banks but to any company outside of the resolution process. banks, but to any company outside of the resolution process. ironically, this dramatic expansion of authorities contained in a section entitled miscellaneous. section 1201 or the proposed text allows the federal reserve to lend funds providing another revenue for regulators to avoid winding down companies. the ability of the fdic and the fed to bail out institutions give regulators a way to avoid invoking the resolution authority. significantly diminishing the possibility that resolution will ever be achieved.
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but even if in vote the dodd bill is now written does not effectively require companies to be resolved. section 208 a-1 explicitly states that companies placed in a receivership do not have to be liquidated, placed into a bridge bank or otherwise. although sections 203 and 208 state that creditors and stockholders should take losses, the dodd bill overrides this requirement in section 208-d by explicitly authorizing the receiver to make additional payments to creditors with no express limitation. this, of course, means that the dodd bill has now written creditors receive and 100% bailout from the federal government that is the taxpayer. because large companies can avoid bankruptcy by either receiving a bailout from the fdic, the fed, or the resolution authority, it would undermine
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the incentives, i believe, for investors and executives to effectively monitor risks. they will likely take even more risk because they know that they will reap the benefits while taxpayers will have to cover the cost. the moral hazard created by this proposed bill will make our markets less safe and can set the stage for an even more severe and even more expensive financial crisis in the future. >> mr. chairman, if the end result is increased moral hazard and greater taxpayer exposure, this entire legislative effort we talk about will have been in vein. this is a way -- there is a way to craft a resolution authority to effectively wind down institutions without creating moral hazard. unfortunately, this bill before us fails to do so. rather, it codifies too big to fail and government bailouts. this is something to which i could never agree. the dodd bill also proposes a
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revolutionary regulatory consolidation scheme wherein all banking authorities reform. the chairman asserts that this new regulatory construct preserves and protects our dual banking system. once again, i respectfully disagree. in fact, the dodd proposal threatens the existence by placing all banks, state and federal under a single federal regulator. the dual banking system, which allows for the federal government and the states to charter financial institutions is one of the corner stones of american federalism. by subjecting all insured depositories state and federal to the same rules, regulations, and supervision, the dodd plan will over time, i believe, erase the distinction between state
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and federal charters. and as a result, i fear state charters will eventually be pushed to the side. perhaps realizing this danger, the chairman has included throughout his proposal a number of bureaucratic band aids such as a state bank advisory. i believe these will be ineffective and can do more harm than good. under section 314 of the bill, the community bank division would regulate and supervise state and federal banks, i like the emphasis being on size rather than charter. the state bank advisory board would require state -- a five-state banking commissioner serving two-year terms to make non-binding recommendations regarding a state chartered institution thus performing the role to the consolidator. although it recognized a legitimate need for consolidation among the current
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regulators, it strips the fdic of all of the power to be the primary regulator for many state-chartered institutions. furthermore, the whole reason the state charter depositories are subject to any federal regulation in the first place is because they have deposit insurance. it stands to reason that the fdic and not the national bank supervisor is the most appropriate agency so oversee the state-chartered banks. our substitute at the right time will preserve the fdic's authority in this area. the dodd bill before us would also create a new and independent consumer protection agency. while we share the goal of enhancing consumer protection, we do not agree on the means to achieve it. i believe that a safe and sound banking system is the best consumer protection we could ever have. for example, a prudently underwritten loan provides protection for both the consumer and the bank that issues it. in order to achieve that goal,
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the regulator must be responsible, i believe, for consumer protection. the dodd plan would separate safety and soundness regulation from consumer regulation. this is, i believe, a fundamentally flawed construct that was clearly demonstrated when fannie and freddie went under. to the extent that current regulators failed to protect consumers, we should hold them accountable, and we haven't. instead of doing so, the dodd plan creates a massive new bureaucracy. in a hearing held just yesterday, chairman dodd indicated that it was unreasonable to expect congress to act every time a commercial practice needs to be addressed. i would argue that it's unreasonable and unwise to delegate our constitutional responsibilities just because it may take longer than some would wish. finally the dodd consumer proposal before us would give the new bureaucracy a dual
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mandate "to protect consumers and ensure that they have access to credit and financial products." an agency that requires financial firms to provide products to consumers repeats the same dangerous practices that led to unqualified consumers receiving mortgages they couldn't afford. i think two failed gses are enough for now. our substitute at the right time would propose a construct. but at the same time, is elev e elevated at parody and authority with the other regulatory. it would all enjoy greater access to and visibility with us, the congress. the chairman's derivatives proposal claims to address systemic risk and protect taxpayers from bailouts by forcing more derivatives trading into clearinghouses. in reality, this proposal is now
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written, fails to address certain risk and actually increases the possibility that taxpayers could need to bail out one or more of those too big to fail clearinghouses. the dodd plan is supposed to bring transparency and accountability to derivatives market. in reality, if you establish a bureaucracy in introducing unnecessary complexity that creates inefficiencies from market participants and regulators. the proposal claims to address excessive risk taking in the over the counter derivatives market. the regulations imposed on the use of derivatives, however, will prohibit manufacturers and other companies from protecting themselves from many risks. as a result, i believe they will build fewer plants, hire fewer workers and expose consumers to greater price volatility. in other words, the job creators of main street will pay for the sins of wall street. the chairman's derivatives plan relies heavily on complex, bureaucratic processes involving
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multiple regulators, including the sec, the cftc and the newly proposed agency in the proposal for financial stability. this approach, a lot of us believe creates unnecessary bureaucracy and will delay critical changes such as the establishment of a comprehensive transaction reporting system. moreover, it blurs the lines of regulatory accountability, laying the ground work for future regulatory failures and cross agency finger points. finally imposes punitive capital requirements, unclear trades that will serve as a perverse incentive to clear trades that are not suitable for clearing. as a result, clearing central clearinghouses will be under pressure to engage in unwarranted risk taking. finally the bill proposed before us contains a number of provisions that have nothing at all to do with financial crisis but everything to do with politics.
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whatever behind these changes, each would be significant change in policy requiring some sort of committee. as we all know, the committee's held no specific hearings to examine any of those. once again, mr. chairman, i apologize for the length of my statement, but you have given us a great deal to consider. for whatever reasons i've an-- opposing this legislation not because we disagree on the ends, but rather on the means. i remain hopeful we may yet find some common ground and it's been my custom over the years i continue to be open minded and hope to be open minded. >> i thank you for the endorsement of the bill. senator? >> thank you, chairman dodd and ranking member shelby for mentioning this and profoundly
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important -- >> fast fall, there was an immediate threat to our nation's economy. legislators were faced with a choice about whether to throw hundreds of billions of dollars at wall street or the possibility of seeing the economy deteriorate further than it already had. with a panic over a potential economic collapse hadn't subsided, financial services regulatory efforts are underway. i believe there is much common ground regarding the types of reforces our financial services marketplace needs. most reasonable people can agree that we need to reforms to guarantee better consumer and investor protection. to change how credit default swaps and other risky derivatives are traded and regulated.
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to eliminate the too big to fail problem by making institutions take the responsibility for their risky behavior. to allow regulators to unwind financial institutions so that our government is not forced to prop them up with taxpayer funds. to more closely monitor hedge funds, to streamline our newest regulatory agencies where they duplicate, and to change how companies think about corporate governance. not just supervision adjustment is needed. legislation must refocus the regulators and the industry and the necessity of consumer protection and accountability,
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transparency, and responsibility while doing business. i applaud the work that chairman dodd has put into the bill. there is a lot we need to do. and i'm looking forward to cooperating with my committee colleagues as we move forward. know that there will be difficult choices and necessary compromises as changes are made to this legislation. we need to aim to break the bailouts that increases -- that strengthens regulations where needed but doesn't unnecessarily harm community banks and credit unions who are not the cause of the financial crisis. i do have concerns with this legislation as it stands, especially the area of -- and
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i also am not sure that the single credit regulator of the banking industry is the best solution, though effectively some consolidation is necessary and appropriate. what i believe the creation of an office of national insurance is important, i believe more could have been done to improve the regulation of insurance. i am hopeful that working together, we will find a robust, balanced approach. we must show the american public that congress is committed to economic recovery and stability. the time to put in place the building blocks of our efforts is now. while the disastrous economic crisis is fresh on our mind.
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i am pleased that the committee is set to begin considering this historic legislation. considering this historic legislation. but because these changes are the most comprehensive and important reform since the great depression, it is also critically important we get it right. thank you. >> senator? >> thank you, mr. chairman. we all agree that changes must be made to the structure and regulation of our financial markets. but the changes must be done right or financial system and economy will suffer for decades to come. that is why i'm deeply concerned about the process surrounding this bill. yes, we have held several hearings in this committee during the financial crisis, including recent hearings on derivatives and asset back
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securities in the security subcommittee chaired by senator reid. those were good hearings. they gave us more questions than answers, and we should be trying to get those answers rather than rushing to legislation. even more troubling than that is the need for more hearings on the issue is the fact that we have held a total of zero hearings on this bill. at a minimum, we should be holding hearings on each title of this bill before moving forward so we can understand the full effects of what is proposed and whether it will even work. better than that would be to consider multiple ideas on each topic and examine them in details. one thing that is clear is bad
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monetary policy is at the heart of this crisis. under chairman greenspan, the fed broke from the rule and kept interest rates too low or too long leading to the great asset bubble. so it seems to me the first thing we must address is the federal reserve. mr. chairman, i strongly support your efforts to focus the fed on monetary policy by removing their oversight responsibilities and refusing them to give more power. however, i just as strongly oppose your proposal to change the selection of the regional federal boards. chairman bernanke has already done significant done significant damage to the feds independence by acting as an arm of the treasury. and this proposal would further
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undermine that independence. you want to turn me off, mr. chairman? is that what it is? okay. somebody tried to turn me off. but that's all right. i don't mind, i've been tried before. is it alan greenspan? i wish he were here to defend himself. the changes will also concentrate even more power in the head and the fed chair and lead to more unsound and easy money. it is critical that there is a healthy debate at the fed. and the regional fed presidents who are the only voices at the fed representing everyone who lives and works outside of new york and washington have been the voices of restraint and monetary policy. while these are legitimate
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concerns that bankers should not choose their own regulators, that concern is addressed by removing oversight from the fed. now more than ever, we need federal -- regional feds that will stand up to the chairman, not be a bunch of bernanke lackkys. all the fed easy money has to end up somewhere and for a variety of reason, it is the greater effect -- it has the greatest effect on housing. eventually the housing bubble had to end. and when it did, consequences were always going to be severe. but they were made much worse by the bad decisions in policies that must be addressed. first among those is the idea of too big to fail. companies like goldman sachs will always push the limits in
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their never ending quest to satisfy their greed as long as they know that taxpayers have their back. unfortunately this bill does not end too big to fail. instead it creates a permanent bailout power that extends beyond financial companies. that will lead to more citigroups, lehmans, aig, not less. there are many other issues that must be addressed. the supervision of banks and other financial firms must be strengthened. and the number of regulators should be reduced. capital standards must be increased. all balance sheets activities must be eliminated there must be regulation activities must be eliminated. there must be regulation of all derivatives. unregulated financial companies must be subject to more
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oversight. housing finance and the gses must be reformed. the credit rating system process must be overhauled. and consumer protection must be strengthened. the chairman's bill tries to address most of these, and i support a lot of the goals he has set out. but i have some concerns about the way the bill goes about accomplishing these goals. one example is the credit rating agencies. we should reduce reliance on the agencies and enable investors and others to do their own research. instead, the bill will further increase reliance on these agencies and give them a government seal of approval. another example is consumer
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protection. no one has taken the fed to task for their failure to regulate mortgages more than you and i, mr. chairman. i think the approach to consumer protection in this bill is dangerously flawed. consumer protection can not be separated from the safety and soundness of financial companies. if a product is as unsafe for one, it is unsafe for others. we need to strengthen the consumer protection mandate of the federal financial regulators and hold them accountable rather than creating a new agency that will not understand the whole picture and will undermine the safety and soundness of financial companies. i strongly support removing the fed's consumer protection role as you have proposed. but the right place to put that responsibility is in a primary
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mission of the financial regulator. i will not go through each section of the bill, but i do want to make a few more comments. i strongly support more regulation of the derivatives market including higher capital standards and more clearing and exchanging -- exchange trading. but this could be the hardest part of the bill to get right. and i think we need to closely examine the proposals in this bill and other ideas before moving forward. one idea worth considering that came out of the derivatives hearing senator reed chaired was a requirement for a visible cash basis for any contract. many of the security provisions of the bill have not been examined before this committee, and will likely lead to higher
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investor cost without any real benefits. one provision would open the door to more security lawsuits and undermine the chairman's own security litigation reform law. i also do not understand why we should reward the sec's recent failures with the ability to set its own budget. before doing anything like that, we should require major reforms and accountability. i am also very concerned that there is nothing in this bill to deal with gse's and the housing finance. they were at the center of the housing bomb and bust. and we cannot truly reform the financial system without including them. finally, mr. chairman, i commend you for attempting the open the federal reserve to more transparency and audit some of the fed's recent actions.
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i was the sponsor of one of the original fed audit bills when i was on the housing committee in the house of representatives. so this has been a longtime goal of mine. while the bill needs to go further, i'm glad to see the idea has caught on, and i will be glad to work with you to craft a stronger audit. as i said before, i share many of your goals, mr. chairman. however, we do not know what the real effect of this bill will be, and i am concerned that parts of it are fundamentally flawed. i cannot support the bill, and i think we should take a step backward and consider each issue and other possible solutions. that will be a lot of work, but it will be well worth it. thank you. >> thank you, senator. senator reed. >> thank you, mr. chairman. today marks an important
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milestone in what has been a year-long effort to closely examine the failing of our financial regulatory system and take needed and urgent steps to modernize it. i particularly want to chaning chairman dodd for his leadership over the past year. the bill we consider today is comprehensive is based on careful and thoughtful analysis gathered in over 50 hearings to every aspect of crisis. the late 90s and the first year of this new century saw intense pressure to grant financial markets legislative flexibility. but that effort had to be in my view complimented by enhanced regulatory stability and scrutiny. without that regulatory approach, we were in danger, as i suggested in november of 1999. we run the risk of the doctrine "too big to fail," that the financial institution would become so large we will have to save them even if they are unwise and foolish in their
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policies. that unfortunately is what happened. the contributing factors were excess leverage and undercapitalization, mismatching of short-term funding and long-term obligation, exotic and toxic financial instruments, regulatory arbitrage as well as particularly regulatory inaction. rather than take action to ban a slew of abusive mortgage and credit card practices, they looked the other way for years out of fear of stifling the markets. rather than forming a watch dog at the securities and exchange commission, staff and funding declined from 2005 to 2007, just at the moment financial derivatives, mortgage backed securities, exotic products took off exponentially in terms of their deployment throughout the world economy. rather than enforce robust risk management rules at banks and other firms, our outdated system preempted tougher state laws and
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let banks choose off a menu of federal regulators that would be most accommodating. today families in rhode island and across the country are baring the brunt of these financial decisions. the financial crisis and recession resulted in millions of americans losing their jobs and homes and stripped billion of savings and income from taxpayers. senator dodd's proposal represents a bold set of reforms to a financial regulatory system that needs more than just changes at the margin. the bill before us includes a strong consumer financial protection agency that would for the first time place individuals and families on main street over the profits and urge for compensation we've seen far too often by those on wall street. i urge my colleagues to support this effort. i'm fearful that if we simply ask the regulators to be more diligent, we'll have the same result that we saw with the fed rather than taking 15 years to publish
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the proposal that senator dodd made accommodates the diversity of financial institutions' large and small and regulates them carefully so as not to be over burdensome. it'll help apply more consistent rules and maintain a high standard to prevent an abusive product. the bill also coordinates financial regulators that have for too long to suit -- confused consumers and it eliminated liability. the bill that we consider today will realign and an effective system of responsibilities so regulators can focus on one mission at a time, whether it is protecting consumers, regulating financial institutions, or conducting independent monetary policy. at the same time, it puts in place and agency for financial stability and complement the day today supervised by looking broadly across the financial system, sharing information and preventing trends from becoming
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crises and helps the fdic provide back up oversight to protect the funds. nsurance corpse to provide backup oversight to protect the deposit insurance fund. in coming full circle, the proposal once and for all ends the too big to fail problem, creating a safe way to shut down large or complex companies before they bring down the financial system or taxpayers or forced to bail them out. this is modelled very closely on the fdic which essentially and routinely unfortunately these days allows deposit institutions to go out of business. clearly i think, also, the proposal recognizes that those with equity in these companies and bondholders must be the first in line if these companies fail. i work closely with chairman dodd to help craft some of the most significant aspects of the bill. i will continue to work with
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him. i'll jai-alai a few of the priorities. comprehensive regulation of derivatives including strong standards to govern derivative actives of loornlg banks. we need more trance paren markets and reduction and risk between firms that have cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. today's bill is largely consistent with the strong provisions in the legislation i originally submitted. we need to improve the quality of credit ratings. i believe the only way to do that is to hold credit rating agencies accountable for their work. they already have been recognized in legislation as nationally recognized statistical rating organizations long before today's marketup. we have to make sure that they have the credibility and the transparency to the perform those functions. my proposal will include provisions that allow investors to hold rating agencies accountable when these firms knowingly or recklessly fail to do their job. we need to bring hedge funds
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under the watch of regulators and ensure all our regulators have the tools, authorities and expertise they need to keep pace with a rapidly changing and expanding financial market. my colleagues on both sides of the aisle have been very engaged. i particularly want to thank senator bunning who has been a very thoughtful clab tore on the securities commission. his ideas and his effort is deeply appreciated. i think there's broad agreement on the committee that we need to do something, we need to reform the system and we face a choice. we can take action to reform our fragmented and inefficient system, or we can simply kick the ball down the road a little bit more knowing that if we don't solve this problem in the future regrettably main street will once again have to rescue wall street. thank you. thank you very much, senator. senator corcoran. >> mr. chairman, thank you. ranking member, i came on this committee about a year after
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come together the senate. we had a shift on our side of the aisle, and i've been on it now for two years. this has been one of the few places in the senate that i actually feel like a senator. the shenanigans that occur in so many other settings typically just don't occur on this committee. i commend you for your leadership in that regard for setting the tone. i commend the ranking member for the way he works with you in that regard. and i just want to say to both of you, we're at a moment where we have a major piece of legislation with a committee of folks that i greatly respect on a committee that's one of the few places that you come to and you actually feel like a senator. i want to the thank you for that. when i realized we had this bill coming out the way that it came out, my emotions ran from
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yesterday morning livid to many conversations that i've had with both of our leaders here and their staffs to now feeling better about where we are because i realize that there's been a lot of discussion between the staffs about developing something that is actually bipartisan. i appreciate very much the two leaders having those conversations. i think we have two staffs that are very, very bright, very bright. and i think try to be sensible in what they're doing. i think we have an opportunity with them working together to do something that actually makes sense. i know this is a discussion draft. and i know that the chairman has reiterated over and over again that this is a discussion draft. and certainly it's created discussion. so i think you've solved -- you've created -- you did what you set out to do, and that is to create discussion. i will say with all due
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respect -- and i want to say there hasn't been the give and take in creating this bill that there should be, and i any in some ways it was put together with some none sect quet turs throughout the bill. so i don't want to put too much weight on this. all of us now we're here to focus on systemic risk and other issues. if this bill became law as it is, we wouldn't be talking about systemic risk. we'd be talking about pandemonium in the world. this would be a cratering type piece of legislation. i think the chairman knows that. i think his staff knows that. and i think we all know there's a lot of work to do. senator warner and i have spent a lot of time together. much of it is because we're new. we've got a lot to learn. we've had meetings, invited committee members to come and others just to take up much of the vocabulary we need to have to really put in place great
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legislation. the other night in our committee in my conference room senator warner and i had the fdic in. we had bankruptcy attorneys in. we had them sit there and debate a resolution mechanism. the dodd staff was there, the shelby staff was there. our staffs were there. and i can assure you that when we left the conference room, there were more questions than answers. and i could see the note pads of all the committee members busily being written upon. so there's a lot of work still to do. i think the great thing about this committee is that i think we want to get it right. i don't think there's anything about this piece of legislation that's partisan. i look at my friend, shart brown who comes from a different state. he and i probably look at things differently on numbers of issues because of our backgrounds. but i really believe at the end of the day, we both just want to have a bill that will stand the
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test of time. michael bar was in the other day. we had a sort of off the record, on the record meeting, kind of an odd thing that was very, very beneficial because the administration put forth a 253-page resolution title. as we sat there, i think there were four or five senators, i think people realized that as much staff as the treasury department has, they still hadn't thought through things fully. i mean it was half-breaked. i think everybody left there knowing that. i don't say that to criticize. this is tough work. this is really tough work trying to figure out the balance on how you keep from having legislation that creates too big to fail or really has a resolution mechanism. if we had in place a year ago, we wouldn't be talking about much that we're talking about today. i think if i went around the table, which i would never do, i
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could probably embarrass every senator here with a couple of questions about this legislation and some of the unintended consequences that may come out of that. unfortunately, as much time as i've spent on it, they could do the same to me. the fact is that there's a lot we don't know about the unintended consequences of this slagsz. mr. chairman, i think you've put out a draft and what you've done is put something down for us to talk about. and that's what we're doing today. i think that's a good first step. i disagree with much that's in there. candidly i think you disagree with much that's in there, as you look at it and listen to senator shelby's ringing endorsement of your bill. i think you probably see some things that you'd like to correct. it seems to me it's almost like we're -- we too've had a great over the last year as we worked together to create some legislation. we're now in the green zone, and i'm afraid that if we move
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towards a markup and amendments at the pace that we're looking at, we're going to fumble. we're going to do something that absolutely will not stand the test of time. i don't think this bill in the form that it's in is amendmentable. i'm going to be honest. the amendments -- senator warner and i have worked on resolution mechanisms. i think the most important contribution that we can make as a committee is having a sensible resolution mechanism in place for highly complex bank holding companies. for us to amend that section alone, we'd have to write a couple hundred payments of amendments. so i don't think this bill is amendable personally. what i'm hoping is going to happen is over the next few weeks, over the next month that this committee and the staffs are going to work together to create a document that we can
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work off that may deserve a few amendments, may deserve a few amendments. my sense is that if we move something to the floor and we don't have strong bipartisan support, we're going to end up with all kind of populist amendments on the floor. this is a bill that's going to be a magnet for populist amendments. it deals with wall street. it deals with all kind of issues. it's going to be very difficult. some of these amendments are going to sound really great. and i think we all know they're going to destroy the financial system that we rely upon to work. and i think we don't move out in that way, we're going to do tremendous damage to this process. plus, let me come back again, this is the one place -- i serve on some great committees, but this is one of the few places that you come to and you feel like a senator. i'm on the energy committee, and our leadership there on both
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sides has done a great job. we had a very short 500-page bill. short by today's standards. it has -- we took eight weeks to walk through each title. look, we didn't agree with every component, but we came out of there with a bill that evan bayh and i look, we come from different states and different places, it wasn't perfect. but we came out with a bill that we could say grace over. but each week we went through a title. this bill does two things that i think are difficult as center rouse. the resolution mechanism is not yet fully thought out. but i appreciate the attempt and i think it's created a way for us to talk. but it's not well thought out. and it will not work. it absolutely will not work. as i mentioned before, going to create havoc in our financial
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system. and it also preserves too big to fail. if there's one thing that i think people on both sides of the aisle agree upon, we do not -- we're living in a country that when a company fails, it i ought to fail. i mean that's the one market discipline that we -- on both sides of the aisle i think embrace. yet, this bill does not do that. i'm sorry. it continues to allow companies to go on after they fail using taxpayer moneys. let me just mention this. we had a hearing the other day in foreign relations. secretary geithner came. he was talking about what's happening g-20 and g-8. there's nothing happening. it's all this talk about cooperation at g-8 and g-20. there's nothing happening as it relates to really regulating in a harmonized way our financial systems. our responsibility isn't just to get this right for our country
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right now and to make sure that we don't jeopardize capitalism that we love by putting in place a bill that we know creates huge moral hazards. but we need to show leadership to the world. we don't need to step back and have a central government approach to our banking institution that is other economies are going to adopt. let me just say this in closing. mr. chairman, there has been nobody in the senate that has treated me with greater respect for a junior senator from tennessee or greater kindness or included me in things that i felt to be important. nobody has treated me like you have. no one. i think causing us to have to have amendments in place next week that are actually written out is going to be detrimental maybe we could continue to work together where we tell the committee what


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