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Santa Barbara News-Press - Maldonado-Opinion: A 'Big Gamble' That Won't Pay Off

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By Abel Maldonado

It's amazing that it came to this and the truth is, it was completely avoidable.

We are a nation built on the right to be free and the right to make choices for ourselves, and I believe that government should never force anyone to buy a service they don't want. The fundamental truth is that the American people want a health care solution that expands access to care, preserves choice and lowers costs.

As it turns out, the 'big gamble' Rep. Lois Capps voted to pass without knowing what was in it, was in reality a big tax on millions of middle-class American families and seniors. The Supreme Court's decision couldn't be more clear - Obamacare is a tax and the Congress has the sole authority to repeal that tax.

I support a bipartisan"repeal and replace" of the Obamacare tax and I think that our representatives have an obligation to tell the truth about the policies they enact - not try and hide the facts from them.

In 2009, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed that the Obamacare tax would be"fiscally sound" and would"not add one dime to the deficit." One of the Medicare trustees recently said that the Obamacare tax would add at least $340 billion to the deficit. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected the true cost of Obamacare in the next 10 years to reach $1.76 trillion.

In 2009, President Obama told the American people that the health reform tax would"result in our nation saving over $2 trillion over the next 10 years ..." Kaiser Health News reported that family health insurance premiums rose 9 percent in 2011 while employees' share of premium costs increased 9.3 percent.
With all of these escalating costs, many Americans are wondering how the government paid for this? Seniors may be surprised to learn it started with a $500 billion cut to Medicare. While the Supreme Court has already categorized Obamacare as a tax, in 2011, the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis that the American people could expect a $525 billion increase in taxes.

It's easy to see that so many in Congress didn't want anyone to know what was in the bill until after they passed it. In some ways, Mrs. Capps couldn't have been more right when she referred to her vote for the Obamacare tax as a"big gamble."

The truth of the matter is this was clearly a gamble that the American people could not afford.

This was clearly a gamble that our nation's seniors could not afford.

This was clearly a gamble that middle-class, working families could not afford.

Setting aside the Supreme Court's decision, it's very clear that according to the American people, the verdict on Obamacare is obvious and definitive: it was a bad bet.

I believe that health care decisions should be made by patients, families and their doctors, not by Washington bureaucrats who have forced upon the American people a $525 billion tax increase, a $575 billion Medicare cut for seniors and a 9 percent increase in premiums for working Americans.

Across the country, small businesses and working families are struggling to cope with the crippling effect of the Obamacare tax. What troubles me is that when it came to passing the Obamacare tax, it was very clear that no one knew what they were doing or what they were getting into, and that is a very troubling mindset that has to change.

We need to demand more from our representatives.

We all know that the institution isn't perfect and everyone has their own flaws, and the American people are willing to make allowances for that. But at some point along the way, we started expecting less and less from our representatives and the status quo became less than what it should be.

I'm not sure how we turn that around, but at the very least, it has to start with engaging the public in serious debates where everyone at the end of the day knows what they are getting into.

That didn't happen with health care reform.

This is an important discussion to have, but it must first begin with the fundamental acceptance that policymakers shouldn't gamble so freely with their votes and the American people have a right to know what's in the plan before a vote takes place, not after.

To do otherwise is just negligent and a stunning abdication of what our representatives in Washington were sent there to do.

The American people deserve to have all of the facts. That way they can decide for themselves what the best course is and policymakers can make better decisions on their behalf.


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