It was very disappointing to see House Democrats' health-care bill. Every American should be disappointed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.) chose a partisan political power-grab over solving real problems. They dismissed the deep concerns of conservative Democrats like my friend Rep. Jim Cooper (Tenn.). They ignored the protests of small business groups. They ignored the American people who have said they favor sound, rational ideas to pay for real reform rather than raising taxes, exploding the deficit even further and destroying private insurance.
I found myself agreeing with the Washington Post's lead editorial on July 15. Their point against raising taxes was exactly right. They said it was "bad policy any way you look at it." An open-ended tax increase with a specific provision that it could go even higher in the midst of a painful recession?
Saddling small business owners with surtaxes, more mandates from Washington and penalties if they do not comply is fundamentally wrong. A National Federation of Independent Business report in 2006 said there were 1 million small businesses that employed five to nine workers with an average payroll of $375,000. All of them would see a 6 percent tax increase if they do not provide health insurance. Employers with payrolls above $400,000 in payroll would face an 8 percent tax increase. Around that level of payroll, we're not talking about corporate America. That's a local physician office, a hardware store, a restaurant, a community pharmacy or a retail shop.
Once this idea is defeated, we will have an opportunity to pass real reform -- meaningful reform that actually improves the quality of care, lowers costs and expands access without raising taxes during a recession.