Fighting Back: Ron Wyden – “Republicans are saying my-way-or-the-highway on the future of America’s healthcare.”

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Senator Ron Wyden, the Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee, delivered the Democratic Party Weekly Address and called out Republicans for voting to take health care away from 23 million Americans and reneging on the promise of Medicaid.

“A little more than a month ago, the House of Representatives twisted arms and cut backroom deals until they passed a deeply unpopular health care bill. It’s complicated legislation, but at its heart is a basic architecture that takes from middle-class Americans to give large tax breaks to the well to-do.

Nobody should be surprised if Republican Senators take the same approach. Earlier this week, Majority Leader McConnell moved to bring the House bill to the floor, bypassing any debate in Committees and setting up a rushed, dead-of-night vote on a bill that will effect one-sixth of the American economy.” […]

To accomplish this “Robin Hood in reverse” approach without bipartisan support, Republicans are using an arcane process known as reconciliation. That’s not a term that’s likely to come up at coffee shops around the country, but it’s important. Reconciliation amounts to “my-way-or-the-highway,” not both parties working together to solve the nation’s problem as Americans expect them to.”

– Senator Ron Wyden (OR)

(Full transcript below)

(CSPAN link to Weekly Democratic Address: here)

(Link to Nancy Pelosi Newsroom here)

Transcript: Senator Ron Wyden Delivers Democratic Weekly Address

Hello, I’m Ron Wyden, Senator from Oregon.

Americans across the country are heading into the dog days of summer – the kids are getting out of school, vacations are being planned, and families are firing up the grill. And this year, nobody would blame people who are feeling a little exhausted by politics.

But the fact of the matter is, there are critical, life-changing decisions being made about Americans’ health care right now in the United States Senate that should have people on high alert. Before I came to the Senate, I co-founded a seniors’ group in Oregon known as the Gray Panthers, and what I learned then is that change happens from the bottom up. It isn’t top down from here in the stuffy halls of government buildings.

A little more than a month ago, the House of Representatives twisted arms and cut backroom deals until they passed a deeply unpopular health care bill. It’s complicated legislation, but at its heart is a basic architecture that takes from middle-class Americans to give large tax breaks to the well to-do.

Nobody should be surprised if Republican Senators take the same approach. Earlier this week, Majority Leader McConnell moved to bring the House bill to the floor, bypassing any debate in Committees and setting up a rushed, dead-of-night vote on a bill that will effect one-sixth of the American economy.

Their approach cuts Medicaid by more than $800 billion dollars. Some may not be familiar with the role Medicaid plays in the lives of millions of Americans to provide basic health care.

– Medicaid helps pay for seniors’ nursing home care so the elderly don’t end up in squalor or out on the street.
– Medicaid provides pregnant women with key maternity care, and helps with their child’s health care after they’re born.
– Medicaid offers health care and support for Americans with disabilities so they can live, work and thrive in their communities, instead of institutions.
– And Medicaid gives treatment to people with mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders who need a foundation to stand on so they can lead healthy, productive lives.

Bottom line, without Medicaid, America moves a giant step backwards to the days when health care was reserved for the healthy and the wealthy.

The Republican health care legislation also takes nearly $300 billion in tax cuts for health care away from the middle-class. It’s difficult to tell how that’s going to make health care better or bring down premiums.

So working families and seniors on Medicaid and the middle class are hit hard under this plan. Taken together, it’s understandable why somebody would wonder where those cuts are going and how it’s going to make health care better.

Unfortunately, the answer is that the vast majority of the dollars from those cuts are used to pay for massive tax breaks exclusively for the wealthiest Americans and special interests.

Every working American pays a Medicare tax straight out of their paycheck — but only those at the top will get a break. The tax on unearned income of the wealthiest Americans is eliminated. Big Pharma and insurance companies get a substantial tax break, too.

I’ve made health care a priority throughout my time representing Oregon because to me, if you or your family member don’t have your health, everything else is pretty much by the boards. This legislation is going to put the health of millions at risk.

To accomplish this “Robin Hood in reverse” approach without bipartisan support, Republicans are using an arcane process known as reconciliation. That’s not a term that’s likely to come up at coffee shops around the country, but it’s important. Reconciliation amounts to “my-way-or-the-highway,” not both parties working together to solve the nation’s problem as Americans expect them to.

Democrats are ready to work together with our Republican colleagues to make health care better. To bring down prescription drug prices. To bring more competition into health insurance markets. To improve treatment for people with multiple chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer that drive most health care spending today.

For now, that’s not what’s on offer, and the country is worse off because of it. But I’m still optimistic that principled bipartisanship can win the day after Americans’ raise their voices to make it clear they don’t support an approach that takes health care from middle-class Americans to give large tax breaks to the well to-do.

Thank you.

Any bolding has been added.

~

Leader Nancy Pelosi’s weekly news conference on Thursday:

(No transcript available.)

Democratic Party press conference after the repeal of Dodd-Frank passed.

Pelosi Remarks at Press Conference Rejecting the Wrong Choice Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Congressman David Cicilline, Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communication Committee, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, and Congressman Dan Kildee, Vice Ranking Member on the Financial Services Committee, for a press conference on Republicans’ disastrous Wrong Choice Act, which would repeal Dodd-Frank and roll back the consumer protections put in place by Democrats following the 2008 financial crisis. Below are the Leader’s opening remarks.

“Good afternoon. How’s your day so far?

[Laughter]

“Spending an inordinate amount of time watching TV? Here we are.

“Good afternoon. It is really a privilege for me to stand here with our Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, a fighter for a strong economy for our country, and what that means for the taxpayer, the consumer, as well as to having strong financial institutions. We’re joined by our distinguished House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, the Vice Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee Dan Kildee, and we are also joined by a part of our Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

“Today, House Republicans are pushing a dangerous Wall Street First – Wall Street First, that’s who they are – bill that would drag us back to the days of the Great Recession.

“Just to remind: eight years ago, an unchecked recklessness on Wall Street ignited a financial meltdown that devastated families in every state in the union – taking their jobs, their savings, their homes, their prospects for their children’s education.

“On the night of Thursday, September 18, 2008, the Treasury Secretary came to the Capitol – you were there, Steny, that night – for an emergency meeting with Congressional leaders to inform us of the financial meltdown that was happening in our country.

“When I asked the Chairman of the Fed, Mr. [Ben] Bernanke, what he thought of what the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. [Henry] Paulson had said, he said, ‘If we do not act immediately, we will not have an economy by Monday.’

“Tens of millions of middle class families across America still bear the scars of that Great Recession that was caused by the very same policies that are contained in this bill that the Republicans are putting on the Floor today.

“In response to what happened then, the Democratic Congress vowed that Main Street taxpayers will be protected and must never again pay the price for Wall Street’s recklessness; the predatory lenders and profiteers had abused America’s families far too long would no longer prevail.

“With Dodd-Frank, Democrats enacted the strongest Wall Street consumer financial protections in history – critical reforms to protect hard-working Americans, and to insist on accountability from Wall Street.

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that the law created has returned nearly – remember these two figures – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has returned nearly $12 billion to 29 million Americans – many of them seniors or servicemembers.

“But with this bill, Republicans will undo the safeguards, eviscerate the Consumer Bureau and take our country back to the days of massive taxpayer bailouts of these financial institutions.

“Our Republican colleagues have named this dreadful and dangerous legislation the ‘CHOICE Act.’ Any time that you see their name, turn it upside down because it is the Wrong Choice Act.

“Instead of protecting consumers, Republicans choose to help those who cheated the consumers.

“Instead of protecting seniors, Republicans choose to help those who prey on their retirement savings by overturning the Fiduciary Rule. It wasn’t even part of the Dodd-Frank, but they’ve gone even further.

“Instead of protecting men and women in uniform, Republicans choose to help those who take advantage of their families while our heroes are defending our freedom on the battlefield.

“Instead of advancing an economy that works for everyone, Republicans chose to help the special interests get richer and to stick working people with the bill for a bailout when it goes wrong.

“These are not the choices of the American people – they are wrong choices. But, they are the choices of the Republican Party that puts Wall Street First.

“Now it is my honor to yield to our distinguished Ranking Member, fighter for the American consumer, taxpayer and for stability in our financial institutions, Congresswoman Maxine Waters of California.”

~
Nancy Pelosi’s floor speech on the Wrong Choice Act:

Transcript: Pelosi Floor Speech in Opposition to the Wrong Choice Act

~

  2 comments for “Fighting Back: Ron Wyden – “Republicans are saying my-way-or-the-highway on the future of America’s healthcare.”

  1. JanF
    June 10, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Nancy Pelosi on Friday: Statement on Fiduciary Rule Taking Effect Today

    Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released the following statement today as the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule takes effect:

    “The fiduciary rule that takes effect today represents a vital step forward to enhance the retirement security of hard-working Americans everywhere. It is the fruit of strong Democratic leadership to ensure that seniors and families can have trust in their financial advisors and confidence in a dignified retirement.

    “Without this rule, unscrupulous financial advisors can allow conflicts of interest to place their own financial interests above those of clients. For some, this bad counsel can result in the loss of more than a quarter of a retiree’s savings. And the atmosphere of uncertainty and distrust keeps many hard-working Americans who need sound financial advice out of the market entirely.

    “But instead of protecting seniors and working families, Republicans are continuing to try to dismantle the fiduciary rule and enable special interests who prey on Americans’ retirement savings – including through House Republicans’ Wrong Choice Act and its provision to repeal this commonsense rule. Democrats will fight with all of our strength to uphold the retirement security of the American people against Republicans’ relentless Wall Street First agenda.”

    The Fiduciary Rule was put in place by the Obama Labor Department in order to protect retirees hard-earned money from financial predators. It is a perfect example of Good Government policies making life better for ordinary Americans. The rule was proposed in February 2015 by President Obama:

    Today, the President called on the Department of Labor to crack down on Wall Street and protect families from conflicted and bad retirement advice. DOL will move forward with a proposed rulemaking that would require retirement advisers to abide by a “fiduciary” standard-putting their clients’ best interest before their own profits.

    A system where Wall Street firms benefit from backdoor payments and hidden fees if they talk responsible Americans into buying bad retirement investments-with high costs and low returns-instead of recommending quality investments isn’t fair. These conflicts of interest are costing middle class families and individuals billions of dollars every year. On average, they result in annual losses of 1 percentage point for affected investors. To demonstrate how small differences can add up: A 1 percentage point lower return could reduce your savings by more than a quarter over 35 years. In other words, instead of a $10,000 retirement investment growing to more than $38,000 over that period after adjusting for inflation, it would be just over $27,500. Today, President Obama is taking a step to crack down on those Wall Street brokers who benefit from backdoor payments or hidden fees and don’t put the best interest of working and middle class families first.

    Many advisers do not accept backdoor payments or hidden fees and work on a different business model that puts their customers’ best interest first. They are hardworking men and women who got into this work to help families achieve their dreams and want a system that provides a level playing field for offering quality advice. But outdated regulations, loopholes, and fine print make it hard for working and middle class families to know who they can trust.

  2. JanF
    June 10, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    @SenFranken: In a dangerous move, @HouseGOP—at the behest of President Donald Trump—voted to rip apart the landmark Wall Street reform law Dodd-Frank.

     @SenFranken: @HouseGOP Dodd-Frank was put in place seven years ago to help safeguard middle-class families from another massive financial meltdown.

     @SenFranken: @HouseGOP When we passed Dodd-Frank, we did so to clean up Wall Street and protect Americans who lost their jobs, homes, & retirement savings in 2008.

    @SenFranken: @HouseGOP @POTUS This is a giveaway to Wall Street bigwigs who are salivating over the opportunity to once again gamble w/ Americans’ $$$ w/o repercussions.

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