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Weekly remarks: Mark Kirk says this healthcare bill raises costs, taxes; Obama vows full Fort Hood probe

November 14, 2009 |  3:00 am

Abraham Lincoln the first Republican president

Remarks by Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois, as provided by Republican National Committee

Good morning, this is Congressman Mark Kirk of Illinois.

When I returned home from active duty in Afghanistan, I dedicated my congressional service to helping families with health care. We can lower health care costs and provide coverage for Americans who lack insurance by enacting key reforms that already help thousands of families in many states.

First, we could start lowering costs by reining in lawsuits in America. We are the most litigious country on earth. Lawsuit reforms can save billions in....

... healthcare costs alone. In New Jersey, without lawsuit reform, it costs over $5,500 per patient to provide insurance.

In California, with some of the strongest lawsuit reforms, insurance costs half as much as it does in New Jersey. Congress should enhance the effective reforms of many states by enacting lawsuit reforms for our entire country.

Second, Congress should grant the right to each American to buy coverage from any state in the union – especially if you find a plan that has a lower cost or is more flexible for your family or your small business.

Illinois Republican Representative Mark Kirk Third, we should give states the tools to create their own innovative reforms that lower healthcare costs.

I also offered an amendment – the Medical Rights Act – standing for the principle that Congress shall make no law interfering with the decisions you make with your doctor.

Unfortunately, all of these common sense Republican reforms were rejected by Speaker Pelosi. The Pelosi health care bill has no significant lawsuit reforms and does not guarantee your medical rights from government waiting lines or restrictions.

In the teeth of the Great Recession, the Pelosi bill would impose ten new taxes on the American economy. 

The top combined tax rate for my state of Illinois would be four percentage points higher than France. The Democrat bill levies new taxes on health insurance, income and even pace makers.

The bill also cuts health care for seniors – my parents and many of yours – with $500 billion in cuts for Medicare doctors, hospitals and advantage patients. The bill even cuts Medicare for skilled nursing, wheelchairs and hospices.

In sum, the Pelosi bill opens a new trillion-dollar entitlement just as our national debt tops $12 trillion.  Ignoring the future needs of Social Security and Medicare, the bill creates a new massive spending program, supported by heavy taxes and cuts to senior health care.

We need to back the common sense health care reforms I outlined and reject a government takeover of our family health care.

This is Congressman Mark Kirk of Illinois. Thank you for listening. God Bless you and God Bless America.   ###

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Remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

This was a week for honoring the extraordinary service and profound sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.

Every fall, we set aside a special day to pay tribute to our veterans. But this year, Veteran’s Day took on even greater poignancy and meaning because of the tragic events at Fort Hood.

On Tuesday, I traveled there to join with the Fort Hood community, the Army, and the friends and families of the victims to honor thirteen of our fellow Americans who died – and the dozens more who were wounded – not on some distant shore, but on a military base at home.

Every man and woman who signs up for military service does so with full knowledge of the dangers that could come – that is part of what makes the service of our troops and veterans so extraordinary. But it’s unthinkable that so many would die in a hail of gunfire on a US Army base in the heart of Texas, and that a fellow service-member could have pulled trigger.

There is an ongoing investigation into this terrible tragedy. That investigation will look at the motives of the alleged gunman, including his views and contacts. As I said in Fort Hood, I am confident that justice will be done, and I will insist that the full story be told.FortHoodMem11-10-09jessicarinaldirtrs
On the Thursday evening that this tragedy took place, I met in the Oval Office with Secretary of Defense Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Admiral Mullen, and FBI Director Mueller to review the immediate steps that were necessary to support the families and secure Fort Hood.

The next morning, I met with the leadership of our military and the intelligence community, and ordered them to undertake a full review of the sequence of events that led up to the shootings.

The purpose of this review is clear: We must compile every piece of information that was known about the gunman, and we must learn what was done with that information. Once we have those facts, we must act upon them. If there was a failure to take appropriate action before the shootings, there must be accountability.

Beyond that – and most importantly – we must quickly and thoroughly evaluate and address any flaws in the system, so that we can prevent a similar breach from happening again. Our government must be able to act swiftly and surely when it has threatening information. And our troops must have the security that they deserve.

I know there will also be inquiries by Congress, and there should. But all of us should resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into the political theater that sometimes dominates the discussion here in Washington. The stakes are far too high.

Of all the responsibilities of the presidency, the one that I weigh most heavily is my duty as Commander-in-Chief to our splendid service-men and women. Their character and bravery were on full display in that processing center at Fort Hood, when so many scrambled under fire to help their wounded comrades. And their great dignity and decency has been on display in the days since, as the Fort Hood community has rallied together.

We owe our troops prayerful, considered decisions about when and where we commit them to battle to protect our security and freedom, and we must fully support them when they are deployed. We also owe them the absolute assurance that they’ll be safe here at home as they prepare for whatever mission may come. As Commander-in-Chief, I won’t settle for anything less.

This nation will never forget the service of those we lost at Fort Hood, just as we will always honor the service of all who wear the uniform of the United States of America. Their legacy will be an America that is safer and stronger – an America that reflects the extraordinary character of the men and women who serve it. Thank you.    ###

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Photos: Not Associated Press (first Republican president); Office of Rep. Kirk; Pete Souza / White House (Obama walks by a bust); Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters (Ft. Hood memorial).

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