By Representative Stevan Pearce
In 2010, Congress passed, and President Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Since day one, this law (commonly known as Obamacare) has been touted by Democrats as a long-term solution to healthcare in the United States. However, after last month's Supreme Court ruling, we now know that this is just a new tax on hard-working New Mexican families.
On June 28, the Supreme Court ruled the most controversial provision of Obamacare, the individual mandate which requires virtually every American to carry health insurance, is only constitutional because it is a tax -- which the judges declared Congress has the power to implement. Being a tax directly contradicts public statements by the president and Democratic leaders who have always claimed this mandate was not a tax.
The vast majority of these 21 new or higher taxes will fall on those making less than $120,000 annually. Even more surprising, many paying this tax will be those living below the federal poverty line (according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office). All told, the average American family will pay roughly $4,700 a year in new taxes. To state this in the president's own terms, the 99 percent will almost exclusively be targeted by this tax. Clearly, this law is a far cry from the president's promise to not increase taxes on middle class families.
Since the Supreme Court's decision, I have had the opportunity to visit with business owners from New Mexico. During my visits, I have heard about the effects of Obamacare on their businesses and your jobs. The overwhelming consensus is that this law is causing layoffs, suppressing job creation, forcing employers to consider dropping coverage for employees and doing economic damage to communities and job creators across New Mexico.
The president claims to be looking out for the 99 percent. Yet, immediately following the passage of this law, large corporations started lobbying the president to be granted special exemption from this damaging law. In all, over 1,000 big businesses (i.e. the 1 percent) have been granted special favor from the president. Allowing elite large businesses to be above the law sends a clear message that the president cares more about the 1 percent special interest than protecting middle class jobs.
When companies can buy influence to be above the law, these companies create a competitive advantage over everyone. Over the next few years, local New Mexico companies will be increasingly burdened by the expenses this law requires of them. The majority of businesses cannot afford to pay a lobbyist millions of dollars to grant them special favor with the president. This means wage reduction, layoffs, and eventually even closure for New Mexico companies. The economic health of our communities and state should not hinge on special interest and presidential favors or waivers. Now is the time for Congress to act to prevent the economic damage this law will create. While I disagree with the court's interpretation of this law, I respect its authority to make this decision. However, the court's validation does not mean the American people support the law anymore today than when it was jammed through Congress in 2010. Congress has the responsibility to listen to the facts and the American people, and take action against this damaging law. Last week, the House of Representatives acted to fully repeal Obamacare. I call on the Senate to follow the House's lead. This law must be repealed and replaced with patient-centered approaches before more economic damage is done.