Senate Democrats Showing Regret Over ObamaCare Taxes
The Senate reconvened this morning and resumed consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 3637, a bill to extend the FDIC’s Transaction Account Guarantee program for two years. At 2:15, the Senate will vote on cloture (needs 60 votes) on the motion to proceed to (i.e. to take up) S. 3637.
The House reconvened at noon and after two hrs of speeches it recessed subject to the Speakers call. There are bills on the agenda. It is also noted that numerous conservatives do not wish to see Speaker Boehner continue in the new session as Speaker of the House, a decision which will be formally made by members of the next Congressional session.
However, the media has noted unrest among conservatives over the present House leadership. A report today in the The Washington Times and an appearance on MSNBC last night noted these concerns. Today Ned Ryun, President of American Majority Action (AMA), said in an email, "Without a majority, the House is speakerless. If neither Boehner nor Nancy Pelosi win 50%, the House keeps voting until a new leader arises with a majority. Ask your representatives to stand on principle and vote for anyone except Boehner and Pelosi as Speaker of the House on January 3. . . . We shouldn’t—conservatives shouldn’t—endorse any policy that will destroy jobs for normal Americans, as tax hikes would. If Speaker Boehner compromises with Obama and they propose a tax hike together, Boehner will be finished." AMA is promoting the use of hashtag #FireBoehner on Twitter to express concern.
Much of the frustration on the street has been over the removal from committee assignments of four Republican Representatives: Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, North Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones, Arizona Rep. David Schweikert, amd Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp. While Huekskamp and Amash have been vocal, House leadership has remained silent as to the reasons for their dismissal from committee assignments. However, WT reported that "Leadership aides disputed the notion that the four Republicans who were kicked off their committees were punished for being too conservative. They pointed to conservative lawmakers who won key committee assignments this year as evidence that it wasn’t a purge."
With 2013 approaching, so are many of the (previously hidden) new fees and taxes created by Obamacare. As Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said last summer, “With every passing day we learn something new about this terrible law.” And now, some Democrats who voted to create the law and the taxes within it are apparently having second thoughts about at least one of them that is almost certain to hurt employers and health care consumers.
Last week, The Morning Call of Allentown, PA, reported, “U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and 16 other Senate Democrats want the medical device tax - included in the 2010 healthcare reform law that they supported - postponed. The 2.3 percent excise tax that devicemakers must pay on their gross sales goes into effect on Jan. 1. It's one of the new revenues used to offset the cost of the healthcare law. The Internal Revenue Service issued Wednesday its final rules on the tax, which will impact profits on items such as high-tech burn treatments, catheters, back braces and in-home HIV tests. Casey signed a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week asking that he support delaying implementation of the tax. Casey supports fully repealing it.”
And according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Minnesota's two senators sought Monday to delay a tax on medical devices that was expected to add $28 billion over the next decade to help pay for health care reform. Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken pointed to thousands of high-paying jobs that device companies support in Minnesota, headquarters to such giant devicemakers as Medtronic and St. Jude Medical. ‘The delay would give us the opportunity to repeal or reduce that tax,’ said Klobuchar, co-author of a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seeking the delay. Repeal is the ultimate goal of the letter's 18 signers, including Klobuchar, Franken and all the heavy hitters in the Senate Democratic leadership.”
The Morning Call discussed the impact on the Allentown area (the Lehigh Valley) in another article last week. “A new federal tax on medical devices will cut into profits at many of the Lehigh Valley companies that make such things as high-tech burn treatments, catheters, back braces and in-home HIV tests, under final rules released by the Internal Revenue Service Wednesday,” the paper wrote. “At other companies like BioMed Sciences, an Allentown firm that was launched in 1993 at the Ben Franklin Business Incubator and makes high-tech burn and wound dressings, the tax will create an administrative hassle for the small firm of about 20 employees, President Mark Dillon said.” It is also likely to increase prices for the company's customers, he said.” Dillon told The Morning Call, “I've got enough difficulties and challenges as it is, and now Obama just threw another on my plate. . . . It is going to impact our margins, so we are just going to pass that tax rate along to our customers. So it will increase the cost of health care across the board. It is really kind of a nonsensical approach.”
The article adds, “Major Lehigh Valley employers such as Olympus in Center Valley, B. Braun, in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, and OraSure, in Bethlehem, also are expected to be affected by the new tax. In March 2011, B. Braun Chief Financial Officer Bruce Heugel estimated the tax could would cost the company $24 million. B. Braun employs 3,500 at its U.S. headquarters in Hanover Township.”
Of course, it’s worth noting that since Obamacare advanced in the Senate with exactly 60 Democrat votes, Pennsylvania’s Sen. Casey, Minnesota’s Sen. Klobuchar or Sen. Franken, or any of the other Democrats who signed the letter to Majority Leader Reid could have voted to stop the bill and prevent these tax hikes. Of course, none did.
Meanwhile, there don’t yet seem to be any Democrats speaking out about another new tax Obama regulators have implemented thanks to the unpopular health care law. The AP reported yesterday, “Your medical plan is facing an unexpected expense, so you probably are, too. It's a new, $63-per-head fee to cushion the cost of covering people with pre-existing conditions under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. The charge, buried in a recent regulation, works out to tens of millions of dollars for the largest companies, employers say. Most of that is likely to be passed on to workers. Employee benefits lawyer Chantel Sheaks calls it a ‘sleeper issue’ with significant financial consequences, particularly for large employers.” The AP notes, “The $25 billion fee is part of a bigger package of taxes and fees to finance Obama's expansion of coverage to the uninsured. It all comes to about $700 billion over 10 years, and includes higher Medicare taxes effective this Jan. 1 on individuals making more than $200,000 per year or couples making more than $250,000. People above those threshold amounts also face an additional 3.8 percent tax on their investment income.”
So not only do Americans face the fiscal cliff in January, they also face new taxes and fees from Obamacare, many of which will be passed along to them. In addition, many others will squeeze employers, making it difficult for them to hire workers or provide health insurance.
Unfortunately, some Democrats are only realizing that now after they already voted for it. They should join with Republicans to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
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