The time for choosing has arrived in Washington. For months, the phone lines at the Capitol have been jammed with constituent calls, and the halls of Congress have been teeming with concerned citizens, lobbyists and news reporters. The entire nation is counting votes to see whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi succeeds in a procedural sleight of hand to pass the president’s health care bill without having the House actually vote on the legislation.
There are plenty of reasons to oppose the president’s bill. It is rife with sweetheart deals like the “Louisiana Purchase” and the “Cornhusker Kickback” that serve no purpose except to buy the votes of U.S. senators in swing states. It will raise taxes by nearly $500 billion and cut Medicare by the same amount.
It will do nothing to decrease the number of malpractice lawsuits or set limits on out-of-control jury awards. It will not stop the wasteful practice of defensive medicine or reduce the cost of insurance. It will put the government between patients and their doctors.
Any of those reasons alone is sufficient to justify a vote against ObamaCare, but together they have created the worst piece of legislation written in our generation. If it passes, the federal government will have given itself powers never enumerated in the Constitution and never authorized by the people of the United States. And all at a time of intense economic stress on the small businesses that drive the American economy.
In recent weeks, I’ve heard from small business owners in Southern California who are at a complete economic standstill, unsure about what burdens the government is about to place on them and whether or not they will be able to keep their employees. The dilemmas they are facing at the ground level of our economy only reinforce the fact that the nation’s leadership in Washington is increasingly out of touch with reality.
One man who contacted my office has been a certified financial planner for more than 20 years. His business currently has four employees for whom he provides health insurance. This owner knows that ObamaCare will dramatically increase his costs, which will force him to evaluate whether or not he can keep all of his employees. At a time when California’s unemployment has passed 12 percent, Congress should not pass any bills that force small businesses to choose between laying off their employees and keeping their doors open.
Another Southern California company that will be harmed is an independent provider of consumer-directed health care accounts that employs 90 people in its Vista office. One of the company’s officers has told me that the health care bill is “very discouraging” for his firm. If ObamaCare passes, the company stands to lose many of its accounts once the mandates kick in. The loss of accounts will mean a loss of revenue, which of course means more job cuts for California workers.
A local kitchen design company that offers health insurance to its employees has cut its work force in half because of the economic recession. If the president’s bill passes, employers like this will be subjected to a $750 fine for each employee who chooses the government plan instead of the private plan the company currently offer. Mandates and fines like that could be just enough to put many similar employers out of business altogether. And these are just a few of the many small business owners who are worried about the negative effects of ObamaCare.
Nothing in President Obama’s plan for government-run health care does anything to help these small businesses. Rather, Congress is preparing to crush them under a 2,300-page bill that spends more than $800 billion and remakes one-sixth of the American economy. The people of California can’t afford this bill, and I will not support it.
Americans want health care reform that addresses the root causes of rising costs and protects the patient-doctor relationship. They want reforms that provide small businesses with smart incentives rather than severe penalties.
And they want Congress to pass these reforms out in the open, instead of behind closed doors with secret deals and strong-arm political tactics that intimidate members of Congress into saving the president’s domestic agenda instead of the jobs of hardworking men and women who elect them.
DARRELL ISSA, R-Vista, represents the 49th Congressional District, which covers large parts of North San Diego and Southwest Riverside counties. He is the ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.