Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Congressman Lynn Westmoreland: Health bills deadly for Georgia small businesses

As federal reports out today show Georgia and the rest of the nation continuing to add to the unemployment rolls, congressional Democrats are forging ahead with health care proposals that will put small businesses on life support and hemorrhage more jobs.

“I hear each week from small business owners in Georgia’s 3rd District who are cutting back, trying to make ends meet, struggling to make payroll,” Westmoreland said. “They tell me in no uncertain terms: Adding on new health care taxes and mandates will leave us with no choice but to slash the number of employees we have. That scenario should scare congressmen even if our economy is at full employment, but it should serve as a huge flashing red light at a time when unemployment is at a 26-year high.”

The bills under consideration would impose a $208 billion tax on small businesses that cannot afford to provide health plans for their workers. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office asserts this mandate “could reduce the hiring of low-wage workers.”

Westmoreland calls the mandate “a tax on jobs.”

In addition, the primary House bill, HR 3200, would impose more than $500 billion in other taxes, including a surtax that will fall disproportionately on small business owners.

“There are many Georgians who are rightly leery of a government takeover of our health care system – 17 percent of the biggest economy in the world – and I’m one of those Georgians who has a problem with the idea,” Westmoreland said. “Regardless, I acknowledge that Americans can have legitimate differences of opinion on whether the so-called ‘public option’ is the right way for us to go. But we should all agree that our national focus right now should be on reviving our economy and creating jobs. As we’ve experienced in this painful recession, good-paying jobs are no longer a given. We have to create the right climate for small businesses to expand – or at this place and time just get back on their feet. Taxing small businesses for providing jobs takes us in the wrong direction.”

Westmoreland points out that Georgia has lost 131,900 jobs since the stimulus bill passed in February and its unemployment rate now tops 10 percent.
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