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Mr. CHAMBLISS. Madam President, I thank my friend from Kansas.
I rise to discuss the tax implications that this health care bill will have on Americans.
Last year, President Obama made a promise to the American people. He assured us over and over that he would not raise ``a single dime'' of taxes on Americans earning less than $250,000 per year.
But the health care bill presently before this body--the very bill that the President has demanded--will not only raise taxes, it will create new ones.
And as of yet, we have no idea what the Congressional Budget Office will say about how much the deal my colleagues apparently struck last night will cost taxpayers.
But we know that this $2.5 trillion proposal is going to hit three groups with new or higher taxes: families, businesses, and the health care industry itself. And we know that under the current bill taxes overall are estimated to go up by $867 billion.
Tax hikes are detrimental at any time. But they are doubly hurtful in the bad economy we are in.
Under the terms of this bill, in 2019, more than 42 million individuals and families--this is 25 percent of all tax returns under $200,000--will see their taxes increase.
In addition, if we pass this bill, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that $36 billion in new taxes and fines will be forced upon individuals and businesses.
Families without insurance would be fined up to $2,250. And according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, some of those are expected to have incomes below $200,000.
Also, businesses with more than 50 workers that do not offer coverage will be forced to pay a penalty of $750 for every full-time worker if any of those workers get subsidized coverage through insurance exchanges.
Many of these businesses will not be able to afford the cost of providing health insurance or the fine. According to the CBO, 5 million Americans will lose employer coverage. Others may find their pay reduced so employers can cover the cost of these new taxes and fines.
This bill has been sold as an attempt to ``help businesses be more competitive in the marketplace.''
But the National Federation of Independent Business--which actually represents small businesses--disagrees.
In a letter to the majority leader, the NFIB was very clear--and this is a quote: ``The current bill does not do enough to reduce costs for small business owners and their employees.'' It also called this bill ``the wrong bill at the wrong time.''
Also hit hard would be the health care industry and medical-device manufacturers.
Now, it may not be popular to worry about fees imposed on health insurers and the like, but the fact is, the $100 billion in taxes and fees this bill will impose on them will be passed on to Americans in the form of higher premiums. That is also according to the CBO.
Our health care system needs to be reformed. We absolutely need to cover those with preexisting conditions, and Americans in the medical fight of their lives should not be kicked off their insurance.
But swapping out a system that needs fixing with just another broken system that also raises taxes on Americans who need every dime of their paychecks to get through the month is not the way to go.
We need to move in the right direction. We need to emphasize wellness and prevention.
We need to reduce frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits that add so much to the cost of practicing medicine. Senator Graham and I have introduced a ``loser pays'' bill that would do just that.
We also need to allow health insurance purchases across state lines, and allow small businesses to pool resources to buy insurance for their employees.
But do we need an insurance tax, an employer tax, a drug tax, a lab tax, a medical device tax, a failure-to-buy-insurance tax, a cosmetic surgery tax, and an increased employee Medicare tax?
We don't need to impose eight new taxes on the American people.
The absolute last thing we should be doing during the worst economy we have had in decades--with 10 percent, 26-year-high unemployment--is hiking taxes on the middle class and on small businesses, both of which are the backbone of America.
The NFIB is right--this is the wrong bill at the wrong time.
Madam President, I thank the Senator from Kansas.
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