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Op-Ed: Massachusetts Says We Were Promised Better

Op-Ed

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Location: Washington, DC

Op-Ed: Massachusetts Says We Were Promised Better

"We will move forward."

That was Speaker Pelosi's response this morning when asked about the future of the healthcare bill, less than 24 hours after Scott Brown's epic upset in Massachusetts. That kind of arrogance has come to represent the Democrats' healthcare overhaul. With each detail voters learn about Pelosi-care, the more obvious it has become that Democrats will break most any promise to the American people and cut just about any sweetheart deal, no matter how cynical, to score a political victory.

Just last week, as Democrats reconciled healthcare behind closed doors at the White House, negotiations took a particularly insidious and destructive turn. President Obama and Pelosi Democrats made concrete promises to the American people: Healthcare legislation was going to lower the cost of American's health insurance premiums; Negotiations over healthcare were going to be broadcast live on C-SPAN; No legislation from Democrats would tax Americans making less than $200,000 per year.

Those promises were quickly forgotten.

When news leaked out last week, from the closed-door negotiations, that Democrats were going to include a major tax on "Cadillac" health plans, national union leaders were immediately sent into crisis mode. And with good reason.

It's estimated that the tax on Cadillac plans would raise taxes on 38% of Americans making less than $200,000 per year. This state of panic prompted AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to declare that the bill will tax huge swaths of the middle class - and hard.

Trumka said: This "bill taxes the middle class by taxing workers' health plans. Not just union members' healthcare plans, in fact most of the 31 million uninsured or injured employees who will be hit by the excise tax are not union members. The benefits tax ... puts its working Americans who need healthcare for their families against working Americans struggling to keep health insurance for their family."

He was exactly right. This healthcare overhaul will hit the middle class hard, it will hurt tens of millions of non-union middle class Americans, and it will make it even harder for Americans already struggling to pay their health premiums to afford new, more expensive plans. Knowing these facts makes Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid's "solution" all the more disappointing. Rather than scrap this controversial tax and uphold a hard promise to Americans, Pelosi and Reid found a different solution: Invite union leaders to their closed-door negotiations and manipulate them into supporting the bill with a sweetheart cut-out. The results were extraordinary and indicative of Democrats' growing desperation to pass anything with the words "Health Reform" in the title, no matter how bad a deal for average Americans.

Under the new plan, Americans with Cadillac health plans will start being taxed in 2013, except for union members with Cadillac plans who won't have to pay that tax until 2018. This new policy will create two classes of Americans: each will have the same health coverage, job, and salary, yet one will pay higher taxes because they aren't a union member.

These are exactly the kind of deals that have come to symbolize Pelosi-care, and the American public is rightfully outraged. According to a Rasmussen poll today, 7 in 10 voters oppose this tax and special interest carve out. Last night it provoked some of the most liberal voters in America to speak out against, electing Massachusetts's first Republican to the Senate since the 1970's.

When are Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid going to recognize that this way "forward" is not the progress American's are expecting? We were promised better than this.


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