Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate today. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“M. President, the American people wake up every morning worrying about very real problems. They go to bed every night with very real concerns.
“They worry about the agonizing sacrifices they have to make so they can afford to stay healthy. And their fear is sincere.
“Our response and responsibility to the American people should be equally grounded in reality. That reality is that our health care system is in serious distress. I believe serious problems deserve serious efforts by serious legislators to develop serious solutions.
“Unfortunately, much of what we have seen from the other side is simply one radical distraction after the next.
“For months, Republicans have perpetuated a pollster- and consultant-created myth that our plan and our goal is to have the government run your health care. We do not. Let me repeat: We do not. In fact, one of our core principles is that if you like the health care you have, you can keep it.
“But the other side won’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.
“A Republican congresswoman recently claimed that our plan to improve health care would ‘put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.’
“A Republican Senator made a similar statement to mislead his constituents: He actually accused Democrats of proposing a plan that would kill Americans.
“Can you imagine that? Rather than having a serious and real debate about a serious and real crisis, some United States Senators and Congressmen want the American people to believe that their colleagues are proposing a plan to kill them.
“These distractions and distortions are revolting. And they not limited to health care.
“An artificial controversy is getting far too much attention lately – one that ignores the undeniable and proven fact that our President was born in the United States of America. Just last week, one of the Republican leaders in the House of Representatives continued to give it credence.
“Let’s be clear: It is a phony issue that does not deserve even a minute of our attention on the floor of the United States Senate. It is absurd, irresponsible and baseless, and the false claims have long ago been easily refuted.
“The American people have every right to expect we will solve real problems before creating fake ones. And they should know that rather than helping them get ahead, some of our colleagues would rather spew ludicrous conspiracy theories.
“The other side hasn’t stopped at fake arguments and fake issues. We have also seen them resort to fake letters. Some Members of Congress have recently received forged letters purporting to be from the NAACP. Others have received a similar letter, signed by a fake name with a fake job title, purporting to be from a local Hispanic group.
“The bogus letters have been tracked back to employees of a Republican lobbying firm. M. President, this behavior is sick. It is shameful. It is dishonest. And it is undemocratic.
“When we passed our economic recovery plan this winter, some opposed it. They did not believe we needed an aggressive plan in response to a grave crisis that is putting people back to work, ensuring middle-class families can get ahead and investing in our future.
“That is their right. But as we start to see a return on our investment, many of those who tried to block this bill have since sought credit for the good it is doing. Others who opposed the plan outright – those who wish we weren’t investing in their states and districts – now complain that they’d like to see us invest faster.
“Well, you can’t have it both ways. It is yet another embarrassing example of the misinformation and misrepresentation upon which some on the other side tend to rely.
“I cannot blame people for wondering why – with an issue as important as health care now before us – bipartisan consensus sometimes seems so elusive. I would say to them: This extreme brand of strategy and the extreme tactics that come with it are what we have to contend with.
“First, Rush Limbaugh happily admitted he wants our President to fail. Then a Republican Senator openly admitted he wants to block health insurance reform for millions as a way to ‘break’ the President politically.
“Another Republican Senator admitted that at least half of the other side’s opposition to reform is purely political. And an influential commentator advised Republicans to avoid consensus at all costs, and instead ‘go for the kill.’
“These partisan tactics have consequences. Those consequences will be evident on every kitchen table, every family budget and every American’s peace of mind.
“And they are watching. A poll released last week found that a majority of Americans credited President Obama for putting partisanship aside and trying to work with Congressional Republicans to get this done for the good of the country. Only half of those said that Republicans were returning the favor.
“Others may be focused on delaying and denying health insurance reform, but we will not let that happen. We have already seen what happens when we do nothing. The costs of sitting this one out are far too high, and not acting is not an option.
“The American people appreciate those Republicans who come to the negotiating table in good faith. I’m sorry to say that there are simply not enough of them.
“Rather than having a serious and real debate about a serious and real crisis, some would prefer to deploy tactics to scare the American people. But what really scares them is that under the status quo, they live just one illness, one accident or one pink slip away from losing everything.
“This is no time to let partisanship get the best of us.
“This is no time to obsess over fake controversies, or oppose ideas simply because they were proposed by people who sit on a different side of this chamber.
“This is no time to instill unfounded fears, or incite the hope that our nation’s leaders fail.
“This is the time to get serious about making it easier for American citizens to afford to live a healthy life.”