|Health Overhaul's Assault On Business |
Posted 03/19/2010 07:07 PM ET
Taxes: If ObamaCare becomes permanent, no one will suffer more than U.S. businesses. They'll face higher taxes, more regulations and a higher cost of capital. But don't take our word for it. Go ask Caterpillar.
The heavy-equipment giant reckons its insurance costs will go up 20%, or $100 million, the first year after the health care system is overhauled, and may go even higher. Multiply that by literally tens of thousands of companies nationwide, large and small, and you can see how costs will soar.
"We can ill-afford cost increases that place us at a disadvantage versus our global competitors," said Greg Folley, a Caterpillar vice president. "We are disappointed that efforts at reform have not addressed the cost concerns we've raised throughout the year."
If you don't care how this affects businesses, you should. Some 15 million people in this country don't have jobs — and another 12 million work part-time but want full-time positions.
If America's major employers are hit with huge, government-mandated cost increases during an economic downturn, do you really think they'll hire more when the economy starts growing on its own again? Of course not.
Despite this, the White House predicts its plan will "cut costs" for businesses. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi even makes the bizarre prediction that passage of health reform will lead to 400,000 new jobs "immediately," and millions more down the road.
Such claims don't hold water because health reform includes $569.2 billion in new taxes, at last count 160 new bureaucracies and regulations, and 16,500 new IRS agents to collect all those taxes. Tax hits on businesses and industries include:
• $52 billion on companies that do not provide what the government deems "acceptable" or "affordable" insurance for workers.
• $60.1 billion on health insurers.
• $27 billion on drugmakers and importers.
• $20 billion on makers and importers of medical devices.
• $2.7 billion on the tanning industry.
And of course the companies themselves don't pay. You do — both as a consumer, through higher prices, and as an employee, through lower wages.
As the Tax Policy Center, a center-liberal think tank, noted recently, "Economists generally believe that the burden of payroll taxes is borne by workers in the form of lower wages, regardless of whether the tax is levied on the employer or employee."
But that's not the end of it.
A new Medicare tax on capital gains, dividends and other investment income has been raised from 2.9% to 3.8%. Supposedly, this is a tax on the "wealthy," those with $200,000 or more in income. It's really a tax on small business, entrepreneurs and investors.
This provision will push the top cap-gains rate from 15% to almost 24%, while the dividend rate will rise from 35% to 43.4%.
This amounts a big new tax on the very people who are most likely to own or start a new business and hire workers. Health reform will tax large numbers of job creators out of business — and no one in the White House seems to know, or even care.
But it will have an enormous impact. As a result of the Obama-Care taxes on successful individuals and companies, investment in new companies will slow, and old companies will face a higher cost of capital. New jobs will be created offshore in places such India and China.
Economist Steve Entin of the Institute for Research on the Economics of Taxation estimated the Medicare tax would reduce GDP by 1.3%, capital formation by 3.4% and after-tax incomes of those who don't pay the tax directly by 1.2%.
And those estimates came when the tax was "only" 2.9% — not the 3.8% it is in the current bill. So the economic losses would in fact be even larger than Entin estimated.
Because of these taxes and other faults in the plan, a group of 130 economists last Thursday sent President Obama a letter imploring him not to sign the bill, saying that it would be a job-killer.
"In our view," the economists wrote, "the health care bill contains a number of provisions that will eliminate jobs, reduce hours and wages, and limit future job creation."
Health reform's taxes and huge new costs will lead to semi-permanent stagnation in the U.S. economy, marked by higher unemployment and lower standards of living.
Is this how Americans see their future? Based on the Tea Party movement and growing anger at the government for seizing control of the economy's high ground, we doubt it.
The only real question is, are the White House and Congress listening?