WASHINGTON, D.C. | January 19, 2011 -
As prepared for delivery.
For 20 consecutive months more than 14 million Americans have been unemployed. As much as we would like to solve this problem, the federal government cannot legislate or regulate our way to job creation. We can, however, foster economic certainty that will encourage families, businesses, and entrepreneurs to spend, hire, and invest. And that is what we will try to do today.
Almost one year ago Democrats launched a nearly $1 trillion government takeover of health care that increases national health care spending by $311 billion over 10 years and levies more than $500 billion in new taxes on individuals, consumers, and businesses. The 2,700 page law has led to more than 4,000 pages in new rules and regulations – and the law is only 10 months old. The uncertainty of what this all means for individuals and businesses today – and in the months and years to come – is having a chilling effect on the country’s job creators.
A number of provisions in the law will undermine job creation and economic growth, but perhaps none is as alarming as the employer mandate. For the first time in the nation’s history, employers with more than 50 workers are required to provide government-approved health care coverage. Those who do not, or cannot afford to, will be forced to pay a $2,000 penalty for every worker beyond the first 30.
If you are a small business owner with 50 workers and you cannot afford to provide government-approved health insurance for your workers, adding one additional employee to the payroll will result in a $42,000 penalty.
Some refer to the employer mandate as “shared sacrifice.” They argue that expanding coverage to every individual means everyone must pay. But the cost of this provision will result in more than lost dollars and cents. Hiring new workers will be more expensive, creating a disincentive for job-creators to put Americans back to work.
The employer mandate isn’t the only challenge facing employers. Last year, the administration released a regulation on the so-called “grandfather provision” – a provision intended to protect current plans against the law’s costly and complex requirements. It is also central to the president’s promise that “if you like your current health care plan you can keep it.”
Unfortunately, the regulation falls far short of the president’s promise. By the administration’s own estimates, up to 69 percent of all employer plans and 80 percent of small business plans will be denied grandfathered status in just two years. One estimate indicates 87 million Americans will face changes to their current health care plans.
Instead of keeping what they already have, individuals and employers will have to pay more for something new and unfamiliar. The more costly it is for employers to provide coverage, the more likely existing health plans will be eliminated and the need for government assistance will grow. And as the rolls for government programs expand, the cost to taxpayers will skyrocket.
At a time when every job creator should be encouraged to grow and hire, the Democrats’ health care law instead forces employers to choose between rising health care costs and government penalties.
It is time to end the uncertainty facing families, employers, and workers. It is time to push ObamaCare aside so America’s job creators – both large and small – can move forward with the confidence they need to hire new workers.
I urge my colleagues to support the bill.