Pelosicare’s small-business tax is a tax on the American family

As unemployment surpasses 10 percent, Congress continues to vow that job creation is a top priority. After the $1.1 trillion stimulus failed to prevent unemployment from rising above 8 percent as its proponents promised, lawmakers are feeling the heat from American families as they struggle to pay for their mortgage, college tuition, and healthcare.

Just last month, 190,000 jobs were lost. All year long, Democrats in Washington have been on a spending spree, claiming that the only way to save the economy from ruin was by spending big. Now House Democrats are using the same excuse to allow the government to take over our nation’s healthcare industry at the steep price tag of $1.3 trillion.

As the House debated the controversial bill late on a Saturday night, Democrats promised that their healthcare reform would help small businesses, lower their premiums, and offer affordable healthcare for all Americans. One of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle said it would “strengthen small businesses so they will be critical engines of growth in our communities.” Another lawmaker even went so far as to promise that the government takeover would reduce insurance costs for 14,800 small businesses in his district.

Many supporters of Pelosicare seemed to sympathize with small businesses and the strain that healthcare premiums place on these job creators. This is a noble goal and one that I share. But, it’s exactly why I oppose any legislation that would place the central control of our nation’s healthcare industry into the hands of the federal government. If costs and job growth is their top concern as my colleagues adamantly proclaimed on the House floor, they should also oppose Pelosicare.

Unfortunately, the rhetoric we are hearing does not reflect reality. Research shows that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) healthcare would not decrease costs for American families and small businesses.  How can it when $729.5 billion of new taxes are imposed on the same small businesses and individuals who are already struggling to afford health coverage?

This government takeover of healthcare allows an unprecedented level of government interference. Section 202 of the House bill requires individuals to enroll in a qualified plan.  Meanwhile, Section 303 explains this bill does not design the qualified plan. However, small businesses and American families can be certain this bill does design the new taxes and fines to which they will be subjected. Essentially, the American people are being forced to sign on the dotted line and pay for a product they have not yet seen. 

Section 202 also provides a “grace period” for businesses to meet the qualified plan. Under this bill, businesses will be forced to reevaluate the benefits they are currently providing and adjust them to the standards created by a new bureaucracy that is unfamiliar with the needs of the company’s employees. If these businesses are unable to afford the new government mandates, they will be subject to an 8 percent payroll tax.

Let me put that into perspective: According to a study in 2006, businesses with between five and nine workers had an average payroll of around $375,000 a year — and a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that only half of firms with three to nine workers offered health benefits in 2008.

So, at what cost does healthcare reform come? Jobs. Small businesses create two-thirds of all first jobs. These job creators will be forced to look at their bottom lines and decide whether to provide healthcare benefits or create more jobs. And if they can’t afford both, the government will force them to cut jobs.

According to a model developed by Council of Economic Advisors Chairwoman Christina Romer, 5.5 million jobs could be lost as a result of taxes on businesses that cannot afford to provide health insurance coverage. So instead of worrying how they will pay for health insurance, American families may be more concerned with where they will get their next paycheck.

President Barack Obama promised not to raise taxes one dime on the middle class. But there is no doubt that when the federal government imposes a tax on small businesses, a tax is imposed on the American family.

The healthcare debate does not occur in a vacuum. As we deliberate the best way to ensure each American has access to quality, affordable healthcare, there are parents struggling to make ends meet and small businesses struggling to make payroll. As we continue to reform our nation’s healthcare system, we must ensure that we do not acerbate one crisis while trying to solve another.
Bachmann is a member of the House Committee on Fnancial Services.