Thursday, September 10, 2009

House Democrats Break President Obama’s Promise

Why Not Require Individuals to Verify Their Identity?


President Obama promised in his address to Congress that, “There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants.  This, too, is false—the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.” However, the facts indicate that actions by Democrats in Congress do not comport with the President’s own pledge:

  • While Republicans offered common-sense amendments at both the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees requiring applicants for taxpayer-subsidized benefits to verify their citizenship and identity—thus allowing the bill to meet President Obama’s pledge—Democrats rejected these proposals on a party-line 26-15 vote at Ways and Means, and a 29-28 vote at Energy and Commerce.
  • Section 245 of House Democrats’ government takeover of health care (H.R. 3200) includes language requiring verification of income for individuals wishing to receive federal health subsidies under the bill. However, the bill includes no requirement for individuals to verify their citizenship, immigration status, or identity before enrolling in federal government programs, potentially allowing ineligible individuals, including undocumented immigrants, to receive taxpayer-subsidized health benefits.
  • In fact, nothing in any of the Democrat bills would require individuals to verify their citizenship or identity prior to receiving taxpayer-subsidized benefits—making the President’s promise one that the legislation itself does not keep.
  • In its preliminary score of the House bill, the Congressional Budget Office noted that, “By 2019…the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 37 million, leaving about 17 million nonelderly residents uninsured (nearly half of whom would be unauthorized immigrants).” Thus, unless the number of undocumented immigrants is projected to be fewer than 8 million individuals in 2019, the CBO score presumes some of the undocumented would have health coverage—raising further questions as to whether or not said coverage would be taxpayer-funded.
  • Given town hall events during the August recess—where Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) asked to see one constituent’s drivers license before letting him ask a question, and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) limited his town hall meetings to constituents with identification—some may ask an important question: Why should the process to ask a question of one’s Congressman be more rigorous than policies to ensure ineligible individuals do not receive taxpayer-subsidized health care?

The President’s address included a tacit admission that the number of uninsured Americans is overstated, citing a statistic that “there are now more than 30 million Americans without health coverage”—a much lower number than the Census Bureau’s figure of 46.3 million uninsured. According to the Politico, White House aides admit that as many as 10 million of the uninsured are undocumented immigrants—and his use of the lower figure means the President believes the undocumented should not be considered part of the target population to receive assistance. Republicans agree with the President that federal taxpayer subsidies should not be provided to undocumented immigrants—and question why House Democrats opposed the President’s own position in multiple House Committees.