From the Office of Senator Johnny Isakson:
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today denounced the passage of the Democrats' terribly flawed health care bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, because he believes it will raise taxes, raise premiums, cut benefits for seniors and place a massive unfunded mandate on the states.
"Today's action by the House ignores the will of most Georgians and most Americans, who have expressed strong, vocal opposition to this deeply flawed, unpopular health care bill. This is the height of political arrogance," Isakson said. "Americans need a Congress and a President that are focused on fixing our struggling economy, not engineering a government takeover of our health care system."
The House voted 219-212 to approve the Senate-passed health care bill. Then, the House voted 220-211 to pass a health care reconciliation package, which makes changes to the Senate bill. The Senate bill now goes to the President for his signature, but the reconciliation bill still must be voted on by the Senate.
The budget reconciliation process may only be used for changes that are budget-related -- meaning they affect revenue or spending. Changes involving strict policy matters that do not have a budgetary impact cannot be addressed through reconciliation. The reconciliation bill now moves to the Senate, and Isakson vowed to use every available tool to block it.
"The reconciliation process was never intended for comprehensive policy changes, and I will work with my Republican colleagues in the Senate to fight this effort every step of the way," Isakson said. "This has not been a thoughtful process, and it is an unfortunate way to do business."
The legislation includes $644 billion in tax increases and over $525 billion in Medicare cuts for seniors. Isakson opposes creating new programs with these Medicare "savings" rather than making a commitment to preserve and improve Medicare and prevent its impending 2017 bankruptcy. Additionally, most Americans will likely see a 10 percent to 13 percent increase in individual premiums as a result of the bill.
"Democrats cannot hide the fact that when you're raising the type of revenues in this bill, that money is ultimately going to be paid by the consumer. Any time government raises taxes it raises the cost of living for the American people," Isakson said. "It's a ruse and a masking of the actual fiscal effect on the United States of America.
At a time when most states are already under tremendous budgetary stress due to the economy, Isakson also criticized the billions of dollars in massive unfunded mandates that Georgia and other states would have to pay to cover the cost of the proposed expansion of Medicaid contained in the bill. Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue has said the only way to absorb the nearly $1 billion expected cost to Georgia is by raising state taxes or making cuts to education, public safety and other critical services.
"In a time of declining revenues and greater pressure for Georgia and every state, this bill is a recipe for disaster," Isakson said. "It's not fair to say we're covering more people if we are bankrupting our states."
The reconciliation package also includes language that would replace private student loan programs with direct lending by the federal government, turning the federal government into the equivalent of the sixth largest bank in the United States. Isakson vehemently opposes this language, which he believes will result in an estimated 19 million students will be overcharged on their student loans in order to help pay for the Democrats' health care bill.