US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Alexander: “If the History Books Were Written Today, We Would Remember President Obama for the Sequester”

Says the reason for the sequester is “the president’s unwillingness to confront the out-of-control costs of mandatory entitlement spending”

Tuesday, March 05, 2013Liz Wolgemuth 202-228-4729

Washington, D.C., March 5 – In a speech on the floor of the Senate (VIDEO HERE), U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, today said President Obama’s leadership was “a colossal failure, because he will not respect this Congress and work with it in a way to get results…he’s known for a year that the sequester was coming, but there was no meeting with the Republican or Democratic leaders that I know about until the day it started.”

Alexander said: “It's time for this president to show the kind of presidential leadership that President Johnson did on civil rights, that President Nixon did on China, that President Carter did on the Panama Canal Treaty, that President Reagan did on Social Security, and that Presidents George H.W. Bush and Clinton and George W. Bush did. Respect the other branches of government. Confront your own party where necessary. Listen to what both have to say and fashion a consensus that most of us can support.”

Alexander called the sequester: “automatic spending decreases which are the result of automatic spending increases in entitlements that the president is unwilling to confront.”

In a speech this morning to the Federation of American Hospitals, Alexander said “one reason we have this sequester is this president’s unwillingness to show respect for, and work easily with, members of Congress.  …the second reason is this president’s unwillingness to confront what most people believe is the single biggest issue facing our country, which is the out-of-control costs of mandatory entitlement spending in the federal budget, led by Medicare.”

Alexander said that “12 or 13 years from now, there won’t be enough money in the Medicare trust fund to pay all of the hospital bills….at the same time, all the money we collect will go to pay for mandatory entitlements and interest on the debt.”

Alexander said there were several plans for dealing with this problem: “Senator Corker and I have a proposal to do it. There's the Domenici-Rivlin proposal to do it. There is the Ryan-Wyden proposal to do it. When part of the budget is growing at two to three times inflation and the rest is growing at the rate of inflation, it's obvious which part we need to work on.”

He added: “It may be the president doesn't like some of us. Well, President Eisenhower had that same feeling about members of Congress, and someone asked him how do you get along with them? He said, I look first at the office. I respect the office. I don't think about the person who occupies the office.”

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