House GOP casts healthcare law as big government at its worst

Several Republicans added that even aside from the size of the program, the law is failing to lower costs, and has reduced U.S. economic growth.

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"To put it bluntly, this law is bad for workers, seniors, families, patients, doctors and employers," said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). "And as the Supreme Court ruled, the cornerstone of the Democrats' healthcare law, the individual mandate, is a massive tax."

Democrats fought back by saying Republicans are not proposing to repeal the law with any health reforms that might help Americans receive health coverage.

"There has not been a single, comprehensive bill proposed by the Republicans at any point in this session, or before," Ways and Means ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) said.

Both sides threw out big numbers about how the implementation or repeal of the law might affect millions of people. House Energy and Commerce Committee ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said without the bill, millions would lose healthcare coverage.

"This bill would take away health security and cause over 30 million people to lose health coverage over the next decade," he said. "That's more people than the entire population of New York and Ohio."

But Camp warned that the law would force millions of Americans to accept fines or buy health insurance, regardless of whether they want it or not.

"The Congressional Budget Office predicts that approximately 20 million Americans will either pay the tax, or be forced to buy insurance they otherwise wouldn't have purchased," he said.

Former Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) implied that the GOP was exhibiting a mean streak in looking to end the law, and said it does not set a good precedent for the House.

"The things that are happening now by the majority party in this House is very contagious, because a lot of young Democrats think this is the way to govern," he said. "A lot of Democrats are coming here thinking that the more mean you get, the more successful. It's bad for this Congress and it's bad for this great country."

But Republicans said the issue is not the optics of the debate, but rather how the law is affecting the economy. Rep. Joe Pits (R-Pa.) warned that the law will devastate states by running up Medicare budgets.

"Pennsylvania won't be a state government, it will be a health plan that paves roads and runs schools on the side," Pitts said.