WASHINGTON -- In a few moments of heated but controlled anger on the Senate floor Monday evening, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) slammed Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and the GOP for essentially lying about the nature of the Democratic health care bill, suggesting they haven't read it.
"We are entitled to our own opinions; we're not entitled to our own facts," Franken said. "Benefits kick in right away."
Thune then took the floor and stressed that "tax increases start 18 days from now" while "spending benefits don't start till 2014."
Franken got angrier and reclaimed his time. "Spending benefits start right away," he stammered, also rebuffing Thune's claim that the bill in all pain and no gain in the short-run. It "will prohibit insurance from imposing lifetime limits on benefits starting day one."
"He doesn't want to hear it," Franken said in a heated voice, while pointing to Thune. "We are entitled to our own opinions; we're not entitled to our own facts."
"Lifetime benefits kick in on day one, and we shouldn't be standing up here with charts to say the exact opposite," Franken said. He also pointed out that "small business tax credits will kick in right away" and the bill closes the doughnut hole for Medicare Part D.
"Facts are stubborn things," he said, repeating: "We are not entitled to our own facts."
"I stand here day after day and hear my colleagues, my good friends from the other side, say things that are not based on fact," Franken declared. He also accused Republicans of not reading the fill.
During the exchange, Thune tried to interrupt and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) interjected, accusing Republicans of trying "monopolize our 30 minutes." Later, Brown said of the GOP: "Perhaps if you're going to vote against [the bill], you don't have to read it -- is that the way they think about it?"
"I will find that many of my colleagues, who I'm very friendly with, have not read the bill," he said. "And I think that if you're going to get on your feet and debate and make assertions, you should really be familiar with the content of the bill. I've only been here a while, so maybe I'm naive."
The video was taped on the Senate floor on December 14.