By Martin Reed
Alabama's U.S. Rep. Gary Palmer said it's time for Obamacare to go the same way as a bad shot in golf.
"I don't fault anyone who supported Obamacare, but it's kind of like golf -- every once in a while, you need a mulligan. And I think this administration needs to take a mulligan because it's not working and the cost has gone through the roof," Palmer said.
The new representative for Alabama's 6th Congressional District who was elected last November addressed a crowd at a breakfast banquet this morning sponsored by the Greater Shelby County, Calera, Hoover and Vestavia Hills chambers of commerce.
His concerns with Obamacare came up as he spoke about the House and Senate each approving their budgets last week. "Our objective was to get to a balanced budget. People think you get to a balanced budget in one year," he said.
"Our spending is like a runaway train. You don't stop a runaway train on a dime. You have to slow its momentum to bring it to a halt," he said. "That's what this budget does. We will balance within 10 years. This budget cuts $5.5 trillion" in spending.
He said repealing Obamacare is part of the budget goal, but steps exist to replace the president's healthcare plan with a better option.
"What we will be left with is a replacement that will truly allow people to choose their insurance company, choose their doctor, choose their hospital. I think it will create a generational change in thinking about how young people particularly pay for their health care, how they will handle their long-term healthcare needs," he said.
He called the proposal a "patient's choice plan, it's a 21st century healthcare plan" that utilizes health savings accounts in which unspent money rolls over each year. "The idea is you create an incentive for people to make smarter use of health care and to live healthier lifestyles. We need to do this with Medicare," he said. "There's zero incentive to be cost conscious and zero incentive to live healthier lifestyles" with Medicare.
Palmer remained critical of President Obama's proposed budget, pointing out that the country's $18 trillion in debt would jump another $6 trillion by 2025 under the spending plan.
"The only reason that we're not in serious, serious trouble right now is because interest rates are so low," he said. "The interest on the debt alone by 2025 under the president's budget would be over $850 billion. Every budget decision that we would make would be driven by the interest on the debt."
He added: "If the world's financial markets ever decided that they had lost confidence in the United States financial system and interest rates would hit 6 percent, we would be bankrupt. So you understand why we put so much emphasis on reducing spending by $5.5 trillion. Obamacare represents $2 trillion of that."
Palmer also promoted a plan approved by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on which he serves to get federal employees to pay their income tax -- a proposal that generated loud applause from the group gathered at the Birmingham Marriott.
He noted that 3 percent of federal employees haven't paid their income tax, while Democrats criticized the plan as attacking those employees. "My response was when 97 percent of the federal workers are showing up on time, doing their job, paying their taxes, can you explain to me what harm it does to them to require the other 3 percent to do exactly what they do? In Washington, that's a crazy question," he said.
The federal government needs to improve its collection of taxes owed, Palmer said, noting that about 84 percent is collected.
"Think about this: This budget is going to be out of balance; if we collect the taxes that were owed the federal government, we would be in balance, and that's one of the reasons why I think we need to go to a fair tax," he said, generating applause. "Everybody pays their share, it will reduce the amount of taxes you pay but it will bring more money into the federal government."