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Education & Labor Committee Republicans

Contact: Press Office (202) 226-9440
Kline Statement: Hearing on "Reviewing the President's Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Proposal for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services"
As prepared for delivery

Though the economic recovery began four year ago, countless Americans continue to face serious challenges. Roughly 12 million are searching for work. Families have recouped less than half of their household wealth lost during the recession. The economy continues to move along at an anemic pace. And the national debt will soon reach a historic $17 trillion.

Congress has a responsibility to examine the programs and priorities of the federal government, not only to ensure we provide the best possible services to those in need and spend taxpayer dollars wisely, but also to deter policies that make it more difficult for businesses to hire new workers. That means asking tough questions to demand accountability for every dollar spent and each new rule proposed.

For example, is Head Start meeting the needs of students and taxpayers? Two studies released by the department suggest the answer is no. The gains students achieve in the program are essentially lost by the time they graduate from the first grade. These findings are especially informative in light of the president’s plan to dramatically expand the federal role in early-childhood education. We should not be adding another program onto an already broken system; our nation’s youth deserve better.

Does the administration’s welfare waiver scheme serve the best interests of low-income families? The answer is a resounding no. The 1996 bipartisan welfare reform law has helped reduce poverty and strengthen the income-security of millions of needy families. Last year the department announced a plan to end welfare reform as we know it by allowing states to waive the work requirements central to the law’s success. This plan would create more dependency when 47 million individuals are already trapped in poverty.

And is the health care law living up to the promises the president made to the American people? Once again the answer is no. The president promised to lower health care premiums for the average family by $2,500, but premiums rose 4 percent last year and 9 percent the year before. Meanwhile, insurance providers are warning of rate shock in the years to come.

The president also promised if you liked your health care plan, you could keep it. However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates as many as 20 million individuals will lose their current plan. Many will be forced to pay more for health care they do not want or need in order to meet the mandates from a few bureaucrats in Washington.

Finally, it was promised the law would create millions of new jobs. Yet barely a day goes by when we don’t read reports of the law wreaking havoc in workplaces across the country. One small business owner testified the law will lead to either higher prices for his customers or fewer hours for employees. A human resources professional at a North Carolina community college warned they may have to cut the number of courses offered to students and described the law as a “massive administrative burden that comes with unanticipated costs.”

To prove these aren’t just Republican accusations, here are a few recent headlines surrounding the law:

“Like your health care policy? You may be losing it,” warns the Associated Press.

“As health law changes loom, a shift to part-time workers,” writes NPR.

“Some unions now angry about health care overhaul,” also by the Associated Press.

“Health insurers warn on premiums,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

The litany of bad news goes on. As one senior Democrat and architect of the law stated, the law is headed for a train wreck, and still there are those who want to force every American to go along for the ride. Isn’t it time for the president to admit we can do better than a flawed health care law that is raising costs and destroying jobs?

I look forward to your answers to these and other important questions, Secretary Sebelius.

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