Gov. Mark Sanford today issued the following statement on a potential healthcare overhaul vote tomorrow in Washington D.C.
"As the hours tick down to what I believe represents a dangerous government takeover of a significant portion of our national economy, I'd one again urge South Carolinians - who will bear substantial costs if this healthcare legislation passes - to make their voices heard today and tomorrow morning before Congress votes.
"I've said repeatedly that I believe this unprecedented move from the free market to more in the way of state control of health care is a trillion dollar mistake, both financially and medically. But I am not alone in fearing the costs.
"Caterpillar Inc., a global leader in construction machinery, just this past Tuesday announced it was adding 500 jobs and expanding operations in Newberry, SC. This was welcome news on the jobs and investment front in our state, and an encouraging sign as we continue efforts to improve our business environment.
"Yet only two days later, in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Caterpillar pleaded with Congress to vote against this drastic healthcare legislation "because of the substantial cost burdens it would place on [their] shareholders, employees and retirees." For Caterpillar, this legislation would expand Medicare taxes and mandate insurance coverage * increasing insurance costs by at minimum 20 percent, or more than $100 million, in the first year alone.
"For South Carolina, it would expand our state's Medicaid rolls by nearly half a million people and cost the state at minimum an additional $687 million over the next decade. Given the dire budget year we're in, this bill would also force state legislators to either cut significantly in the areas of education, law enforcement and economic development, or raise taxes.
"Caterpillar's reservations echo what I'm hearing from small businesses across South Carolina - that this bill will increase healthcare costs and incentivize employers to limit the number of people they hire. In fact, the bill would nearly triple the penalty on businesses that can't afford to provide workers with health insurance, and also includes an unprecedented extension of the Medicare tax. All told, the bill brings with it an overall tax increase of roughly $570 billion - and I think it's telling that the very companies like Caterpillar that are creating jobs and opportunities in our communities are the same ones saying this healthcare overhaul is simply bad business.
"There is still time, and still a chance to make our collective voices heard. As taxpayers, South Carolinians, and indeed Americans, I'd urge you once more to contact your Representative in Washington D.C. today and urge them to vote against this unwanted, unwise, and unwelcome healthcare bill."