After attending several events and speaking with Nebraskans over the weekend, I've heard you loud and clear. More than ever before, I heard frustrations over the new health care law, which constitutes the largest tax increase in history and is projected to increase the cost of health insurance for many Nebraska families by more than $2,000 a year. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the individual mandate tax will directly lead to 800,000 fewer jobs and 20 million Americans losing their health insurance.
First and foremost, my goal is to repeal this misguided law in its entirety. One amendment I signed onto would do just that. Unfortunately, as long as supporters of the law hold a majority in the Senate and occupy the White House, full repeal will be extremely difficult to accomplish. That's why I'm pursuing all possibilities which could help blunt many of the law's various damaging aspects.
Along with Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, I introduced an amendment to strip the individual mandate, which the Supreme Court recently defined as a tax. Imposing a tax on Americans for not buying a government-approved product is an extremely troubling policy precedent to set. If we accept this tax, what's to stop future Congresses from taxing you for not owning a house, or an electric car? Even President Obama once noted how illogical this is when he said, "If a mandate was the solution, we could try that to solve homelessness by mandating everyone buy a house."
Another tax increase buried deep in the law will also be passed along to Nebraskans. This tax will be levied on manufacturers, producers, and importers of medical devices, and that means you'll have to pay more to buy the devices when you get sick. The President once promised he wouldn't raise taxes on middle class families; the mandate and device taxes is mean this promise was broken, and these taxes should be removed from the books.
There is a robust debate about whether to "fix" the law or repeal it. While I strongly favor repeal, I am willing, as my amendments demonstrate, to take it step by step and first remove the most egregious provisions. That's what many supporters suggest we should do, yet when it comes time to actually repair the law by eliminating middle class tax increases, they are nowhere to be found.
The bottom line is Majority Leader Reid controls the Senate schedule. He knows how unpopular the law is and doesn't want to force his fellow supporters to vote for the law again, so he is not likely to allow votes on my amendments. If you don't want to milk the cows, don't own a dairy farm; senators shouldn't be able to hide when things get tough. The law's supporters are content with keeping every part of it, at the expense of higher taxes and higher insurance premiums for virtually all Nebraskans, because they simply don't want to face another tough vote.
It's time to reverse course and take a responsible approach to our health care system that actually addresses its problems. As long as I am in the Senate, this will remain one of my top priorities.