In a national address Saturday morning, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell spoke about the many problems the federal health-care law has created in the state and nation in the year since Congress passed it.
“One year after the federal health-care bill was rammed through the Congress in a partisan vote, we now see it has more to do with expanding control by the federal government than actually reforming our health-care system,’’ McDonnell said. “The 2,700 page legislation simply will not work. It creates new entitlements and bureaucracies, and could cost all of us in fewer jobs and lost opportunities.’’
McDonnell, vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, was tapped by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to deliver the weekly Republican address — what is commonly referred to as the response to the president’s radio address.
McDonnell also praised U.S. military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, assisting in the Libyan no-fly zone, and aiding the recovery efforts in Japan, and spoke about creating jobs and fiscal responsibility. He has given the speech once before during his 2009 gubernatorial campaign.
Read Saturday’s full speech below:
“Hi, I’m Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.
“Before I begin today, I want to thank the brave men and women of our armed forces for their selfless service during recent operations in Libya, and their ongoing great work in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their relief efforts in Japan. Virginia is home to many of our nation’s most important military installations, and we thank these courageous Americans for their defense of the freedom and liberty that we hold dear.
“Like most Governors, my top priority for our Commonwealth is ensuring fiscal responsibility and helping the private sector create the good jobs our citizens need.
“Here in the states, we have to balance our budgets. We can’t print money, and we have strict debt limits, so we have to live within our means.
“We manage our state budgets like you run your family and business budgets. That means making tough choices.
“When I took office last year we faced historic budget deficits of $6 billion here in Virginia.
“And we closed those deficits by cutting spending, not raising taxes. In the process we reduced state spending to 2006 levels-- and turned a shortfall into a surplus.
“We’ve acted in a fiscally responsible manner here in Richmond. And that’s what Republican Governors from Madison to Austin and Tallahassee to Albuquerque are doing right now.
“But our work in the states is at risk of being undermined by some of the unrealistic and irresponsible policies that are coming from Washington.
“Chief among those: the passage, one year ago this week, of the federal health care bill.
“Unlike states, families, and businesses, the federal government doesn’t have to balance its budget. And that unfortunate reality leads to policies like the federal health care bill that push expensive, unfunded, and unsustainable programs onto the rest of us. Washington passes the law, and then expects us to balance the books.
“One year after the federal health care bill was rammed through the Congress in a partisan vote, we now see it has more to do with expanding control by the federal government than actually reforming our health care system.
“The 2,700 page legislation simply will not work. It creates new entitlements and bureaucracies, and could cost all of us in fewer jobs and lost opportunities.
“The law shifts billions in unfunded mandates onto state governments, and rigid new requirements restrict the governors’ abilities to manage our state programs. The result: higher costs, less innovation and freedom. That’s a prescription for serious problems at the state level, where much of this plan must be implemented.
“Most notably, the federal health care bill dramatically expands Medicaid, which was already growing at unsustainable rates.
“In Virginia alone, state spending on Medicaid has grown by a staggering 1,600 percent over the past 27 years. The program now accounts for 21 percent of our entire general fund budget, and is projected to grow another 26 percent between 2012 and 2016. Under the federal health care bill, Virginia will be forced to spend $2 billion more on Medicaid between 2014 and 2022.
“The more spending required for Medicaid entitlements, the less money available for roads, schools, law enforcement and higher education. The more mandates on employers, the less jobs that they can create. This federal law will lead to painful decisions that will impact every American.
“The federal health care bill is not only a budget buster, it’s also unconstitutional.
“Virginia, like the majority of states, is challenging this legislation in court. Already a federal District Court judge has ruled in our favor, concluding that the provision that a Virginia citizen must purchase insurance or face a penalty is unconstitutional.
“Courts have split on this issue. Everyone agrees that the case will ultimately be decided by the United States Supreme Court. But now the very same Administration that was in such a rush to pass the bill, is in no hurry to find out if it’s legal. And that’s an answer we all need to know.
“The legal issues must be settled promptly by the Court to create certainty and finality for health care providers, businesses and all Americans. Shockingly, the Obama Administration opposes an expedited appeal to the Supreme Court, preferring the potential for years of costly litigation in the lower courts.
“Regardless of party, we should all agree that the sooner we know if the law is constitutional, the better for the American people.
“Also, we can all agree that we must make our health system more affordable, accessible and accountable.
“Republican Governors are on the front lines of this effort.
“We believe that the best way to do that is by repealing this burdensome and bureaucratic bill and replacing it with innovative free-market policies that drive down costs and increase coverage.
“We can do that by instituting real lawsuit reform, allowing citizens to purchase health care insurance across states lines, encouraging health savings accounts, allowing voluntary market-based purchasing pools and exchanges and focusing on prevention and real health maintenance. Those are just a few of the ideas.
“We need policies that give greater freedom to citizens and employers and don’t overly burden states and businesses. Policies that recognizes what history teaches well: and that is that the creative solutions of the free market beat one-size fits all plans of big government.
“Here in your state capitols, Republican Governors are leading the effort to cut government spending, keep taxes low, help the private sector create jobs, provide access to affordable health care and get our economy back on track by making our states more competitive.
“We are asking this Administration to join us in the effort.
“Thank you for taking the time to listen today and have a great weekend.”