WASHINGTON, D.C. | April 30, 2013 -
Good morning everyone. First, allow me to take a moment to thank our witnesses for joining us. We know you all are very busy, and we appreciate the opportunity to hear your thoughts on the very important issue of health care. Second, I would like to thank the people of Concord, North Carolina and the community college staff for their hospitality.
The Herald-Sun recently reported on a job fair organized by the North Carolina Technology Association. Dozens of local companies attended the job fair, which was visited by people like Bernita Nichols. For the first time in 28 years, Ms. Nichols is looking for work after her employer went out of business. She described the labor market as “tight merely because of the number of people who are looking.” Richard Corridore also attended the job fair and noted, “The job market is not recovered; it’s still very difficult.”
These remarks underscore the jobs crisis we continue to face. Nearly 12 million Americans are unemployed. Approximately 4.6 million have been out of work for six months or longer. The number of men and women in the labor force is at the lowest level in 35 years, indicating more people are giving up their search for work in this dismal job market.
Though officials claim the recession ended almost four years ago, countless families and small business owners find that hard to believe. No doubt many in the Tar Heel State feel the same way. Roughly 1 out of every 10 workers in the state is unemployed.
As policymakers, we have an obligation to make job creation our number one priority. Ending wasteful government spending, opposing unnecessary regulations, preserving the safety net for seniors and vulnerable families, and moving toward a balanced federal budget are all part of an effort to get this economy moving and help put people back to work. Today’s hearing is a small but important part of that effort.
We can’t talk about jobs and the workforce without discussing health care. Approximately 160 million Americans receive health care coverage through an employer. They and their employees know all too well the challenge of rising health care costs, which can result in more than loss of coverage; it can also lead to lower wages and fewer jobs. That is why it’s absolutely vital we put in place reforms that will bring down costs and expand access to affordable care.
However, President Obama and his allies in Congress took our nation in an entirely different direction. Despite significant opposition from the American people, the president signed into law a government takeover of health care that is wreaking havoc on our workplaces. Instead of responsible solutions to strengthen our health care system, we have empty promises that have made a broken system worse.
For example, we were promised if we liked our current health care plan we could keep it. But according to the Obama administration’s own estimates, millions of individuals will experience “significant changes” to their health care plan.
We were promised the law would create four million jobs. Yet barely a week goes by that we don’t learn of employers who might be forced to reduce their workers’ hours or cut the size of their workforce due to the law’s punitive mandates and tax increases.
The president also promised his plan would reduce insurance premiums by $2,500. Instead, premiums for the average family increased 4 percent last year and 11 percent the year before. Estimates suggest they will continue to rise in the years to come.
Over the next decade, the law is expected to hit certain employers with $117 billion in higher taxes for failing to provide government-approved health insurance; levy $55 billion in new taxes on individuals who don’t purchase government-approved insurance; and cost taxpayers close to $2 trillion in new spending. It’s no wonder proponents of the law are beginning to question whether this law is sustainable.
This flawed law is simply not in the best interest of workers, employers, and families. However, ObamaCare is the law of the land and we have to examine how it is affecting our families and workplaces. I want to thank our witnesses again for sharing their perspectives and their ideas for responsible reforms that will better address our health care challenges.
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