The Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, gives the federal government the tools to tax religiously-affiliated schools, hospitals, universities and soup kitchens right out of existence if they object to a government mandate. This week, I voted to repeal Obamacare because the entire law is bad policy, the mandate expands the role of government to unprecedented levels, and the taxes decimate our religious liberties. This cannot stand.
We have heard a lot about the mandates in the law, but we have not heard much about these hidden taxes on religious freedom. Obamacare includes provisions that trigger penalties already written into our current tax code if the employer chooses not to comply, based on religious or moral convictions, with the HHS mandate. The Internal Revenue Service allows the government to tax employers to the tune of $100 per day, per employee.
That equals an astounding $36,500 per employee per year. If a religiously-affiliated grade school has 50 employees, they would be taxed $1,825,000 per year, every year, just for exercising their constitutionally-protected rights. With taxes so severe and burdensome, it's hard to imagine that any institution could keep its doors open.
This is the question facing religious institutions and concerned employers today: will you violate your conscience and religious beliefs or pay a hefty tax to follow your faith?
Out of all the taxes in Obamacare, of which there are 21, this to me is the most egregious for its brazen disregard for religious liberty, one of the bedrocks of our country.
That's why I introduced the Religious Freedom Tax Repeal Act of 2012. This bill will block the taxes that will be levied upon those religious institutions and those who have moral or religious objections in the private sector from having to pay for mandates under Obamacare that violate their religious or moral views.
How did we get to a place where our most precious freedoms are under attack? The Constitution stated "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
If you recall, in February, President Obama and his Department of Health and Human Services announced a "compromise" that was no compromise at all. When Americans across the country and across the political spectrum protested the HHS mandate, the President still decided to force religiously- affiliated organizations and employers to facilitate a government mandate that violates core tenants of their faith.
The mandate also states that religious employers are exempt only if their purpose is to instill religious doctrine, to hire and serve exclusively people of their own faith, and qualify as a church or religious order according to a very narrow definition in the tax code.
Under this definition, even Jesus and Mother Theresa would not qualify, to say nothing of the religious charities that have provided relief and services throughout history. The exceptions are essentially irrelevant as most religious institutions providing health, educational or charitable services to others have no protection.
The Obama Administration is forcing employers to choose between either covering various drugs and services contrary to their religious beliefs or refusing to offer health plans to their employees and paying hefty taxes.
In addition to repealing the full law, I will continue to work in Congress with my co-sponsors to stop this religious freedom tax.