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Cotton Speaks on the Senate Floor on Repealing the Obamacare Individual Mandate with Tax Reform

November 15, 2017

Mr. President I'm glad that you're here to replace me as the presiding officer of the Senate. I've just spent the last hour of the Senate presiding myself. For those of you in the gallery who don't know these things, I'll pull back the curtain a little bit. They call it presiding-officer duty, not presiding-officer privilege or honor because it's reserved for the young senators who are new to the Senate, like Senator Sullivan and I. But it also means that you have to actually listen to your colleagues' speeches, which doesn't happen very often around here anymore.

So this morning I had the privilege of listening to the Democratic leader's speech about our tax bill, and the fact that we are going to repeal the hated mandate of Obamacare as part of this tax bill. And I just can't let stand what he said without correcting the record.

First off, the Senator from New York said we're injecting healthcare into the tax bill-injecting healthcare into the tax bill. I would remind him and all the other Democrats who have been denouncing this decision on the Senate Finance Committee that the individual mandate is a tax-according, not to me, not to Republicans, but to the Obama administration. That is what they argued in 2012 to the Supreme Court, even though, he contended throughout the debate on Obamacare in 2009 and 2010 that it wasn't a tax. In 2012 they argued to the Supreme Court that the Obamacare mandate is a tax and the Supreme Court in 2012 upheld it as a tax.

And I'm willing to bet, I'm willing to bet, that the Democrat leader issued a statement in the summer of 2012 applauding that decision which held that the individual mandate is a tax.

After all, it's collected on your 1040. It's collected by the IRS. It doesn't get much more taxy than that.

Second point, the claim that 13 million Americans will "lose their insurance"-"lose their insurance," if we repeal the mandate. Well, two-thirds of the American people want us to repeal the mandate so they must be up to something and second, let's just think about what the mandate repeal does. It doesn't cut a single dime out of Medicaid. It doesn't cut a single dime out of insurance subsidies for people on the exchanges, and it doesn't change a single regulation of Obamacare. All it says is the IRS cannot fine you for being unable to afford the insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable in the first place.

That's right. Today, if you cannot afford your insurance because Obamacare made it unaffordable, the IRS will fine you and your family up to $2,000 a year and that number goes up every year. And let me tell you, more than 5 out of 6 households who pay that fine, make less than the median income in this country.

That's right. That is a direct tax on working families and poor people because they can't afford the insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable.

In Arkansas, that's over 55,000 families who already have to go with the insecurity and the financial hardship of not having health insurance, who then have to pay a fine to the IRS.

That's why two-thirds of the American people have wanted us to repeal the individual mandate of Obamacare since the very day that that law was passed. And that's why we are finally about to repeal that mandate. And in the meantime, it's going to pay for more tax relief for working-class families. We're going to be able to bring rates down for all of our families; preserve more popular or widely used deductions or credits that help people make ends meet, like the home-mortgage-interest deduction credit; help them be a little more generous to their church or local charities, like the charitable deduction; help them offset the cost of some of their property or state and local income taxes-all because we are going to repeal the hated Obamacare mandate.

So I know the Democrats are in high dudgeon these days. Turn on C-SPAN if you don't have anything better to do. Watch the Senate Finance Committee and they'll say, "‘oh, we're injecting healthcare into the tax bill; oh, 13 million people are going to lose their insurance." What we are doing is repealing the most hated tax of Obamacare and giving the American people the freedom to choose insurance that is right for them without being threatened by a fine from the IRS if that insurance doesn't meet some Washington bureaucrat's definition of what is suitable.

That's why two-thirds of the American people support the repeal of the individual mandate and that's why, when we repeal it, the American people are going to have a big victory; notwithstanding anything said by the Democratic leader or any other Democratic senator.

Mr. President, I yield my time; have fun during presiding-officer duty. I note the absence of a quorum.