WASHINGTON, D.C. | February 22, 2012
Over four years ago, our nation fell into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Businesses closed, jobs were lost, savings disappeared, and countless lives were transformed by the pain of a deep economic downturn. While we’ve made some modest progress in recent months, we still have a long way to go before we reach the height of prosperity our families, employers, and workers once enjoyed.
Recently, the Gallup polling company talked to a number of small business owners who said they weren’t looking to hire new workers right now. Gallup asked: Why? The vast majority expressed concerns about the state of the economy and poor sales. However, 46 percent of small business owners cited fear of government regulations and 48 percent pointed to rising health care costs.
As a policymaker, these responses by our nation’s leading job creators are startling yet not unexpected. For too long, some in Washington viewed our economic crisis as the political means to advance an agenda that ignores the real challenges facing the nation. This disturbing trend of the last several years has destroyed virtually any sense of certainty in the economy, making it more difficult for businesses to grow and create jobs.
Perhaps the greatest example of this misguided agenda was the health care reform legislation signed into law in 2010. At a time when millions of Americans were looking for work and taxpayers were swimming in government debt, Democrats in Washington were advancing a multi-trillion dollar government takeover of health care.
A lot of lofty promises were made in an attempt to win public support, yet the reality of the new health care law is one of broken promises. We were told it would help lower health care costs. President Obama pledged that his plan would decrease insurance premiums by $2,500 for the average family. Not true. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the average family health plan now costs more than $15,000 – thanks to a nine percent increase in cost just last year.
We were told if you like your current health care plan, you can keep it. Not true. The president’s decision to force private employers – including religious organizations – to offer services that may violate their moral beliefs, demonstrates that Washington is in control and significant changes to our health care are inevitable.
Finally, we were told the law would create millions of new jobs. Again, not true. At the center of ObamaCare are job crushing mandates and regulations. Employers with more than 50 workers are now forced to provide expensive and government-approved health insurance. If they can’t afford to, they face a fine of $2,000 per worker (except for the first 30 workers). We’ve heard many employers, and we will hear more today, describe the difficult choices they now face, choices between providing government-approved health care and cutting hours or laying off workers.
It is clear the health care law is failing to address the challenges facing our country. In fact, in many ways, it is making things worse. I am committed to repealing this government takeover of health care and pursuing the right reforms that will lower costs for workers while not undermining the success of employers. I know that is a commitment shared by Representative Kelly, and many of our colleagues across the country as well.
The questions we will ask today are: What types of responsible reforms will help rein in the costs of health care? How can we turn the recent gains we’ve seen into long-term economic growth? What do the people of Pennsylvania see as the challenges facing their state and country, and where do they believe the road to prosperity lies? I look forward to our discussion.
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