Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke about the upcoming tax day and how Americans will have the opportunity to reflect on how Washington continues to spend so much of their hard-earned tax dollars. Barrasso points out that the Obama Administration’s policies have burdened more Americans with higher taxes and made it harder for them to find good jobs.
Excerpts of his remarks:
“This week President Obama has been holding what to me appear to be made-for-TV events to talk about the economy.
“He's talked about the policies that he wants Congress to enact, policies that he says will finally get America's economy going again.
“Well, President Obama has been in the White House now for more than five years, so I think it's fair to ask, what has this administration, the Obama Administration, been doing for the economy for the past five years?
“We know that the recession actually ended almost five years ago. Since then, our economy has not bounced back the way it should have or the way it typically does after a deep recession.
“The Obama Administration has spent a lot of money on failed ideas like the so-called stimulus package. Since the recession ended, Washington has racked up more than $6 trillion worth of additional debt and it's not gotten us nearly the kind of growth that we should have added as a result of this spending.
“Now the President has come out with a budget in which he's asked for tax increases of over $1.7 trillion, nearly $2 trillion in higher taxes over the next decade. Taxes are already too high.
“When I go home and talk to my constituents, as I would think most members of this body hear from their folks at home, taxes are already too high.
“So Americans are now preparing to file their taxes. Income tax day is coming April 15th. And as Americans prepare to file their taxes, they're getting a reminder of just how much of their hard-earned money Washington is taking from them.
“Next Tuesday, April 15th, the deadline for most of us to fill out the forms and send everything off to the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS.
“Well according to the Tax Foundation, Americans will spend more on taxes this year than they spend on food, clothing, and housing combined.
“So we now know how much President Obama is spending, but what kind of effect have his policies been having on our American economy?
“Well, we know that the economy is still not producing the number of jobs we need for a real recovery.
“We know if we want to look for the reasons why that seems to be the case, we could talk about the 2 million jobs that Democrats are blocking with the restrictive energy policies.
“We could talk about the minimum-wage bill that Democrats are pushing right now. The Congressional Budget Office says that that would reduce employment in the United States by half a million jobs. They say maybe as many as a million jobs.
“Yet the Majority Leader comes here and says it's the best thing you can do for the economy.
“But probably the largest, the most harmful thing the administration has done with regard not just to the economy but other factors, including the lives of the American public, is the President's health care law.
“This law is hitting people across the country, folks who are seeing their premiums go up, who are losing access to their doctor, who are getting cancellation notices from their insurance companies, and it's also having an effect on our economy.
“We had today our usual Wyoming Wednesday where people from around the state of Wyoming, who come to Washington and meet with their two senators from Wyoming, talking to people in the communities and what I heard about was another horror story related to the President's health care law.
“A family that had insurance that worked for them, worked for them for a long time, fit their budget, fit their needs as a family, but of course it was canceled as a result of the President's health care law, and the mandates where the President believes he has a better idea what works for their family than they know in terms of their family.
“They have a couple young children and a husband and wife, and they lost their insurance. They tried and tried again to get reinsured through the exchanges. It took them months. They finally went with paper forms to apply.
“The stories go on and on, and it's horrible to listen to what American families have had to go through as a result of the President's health care law.
“This is a family that was hurt as a result of the President's health care law in terms of what they're paying for insurance, in terms of the deductibles that are now in place, and in terms of not being able to go to the doctor of their choice. So we have the effect on the family and the effect on the economy.
“Now, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care law is going to lead to 2.5 million fewer people working over the next decade. That’s not my numbers, those are the Congressional Budget office numbers.
“Because of the warped incentives that are built into this law, some people will have to choose between working more and getting higher wages or working less so they can collect government subsidies.
“Now, remember Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House on the Democratic side in the House when this law was jammed through and down the throats of the American people, there she was saying, first you have to pass it before you get to find out what's in it.
“I actually read the whole thing and it continues to astonish me how few members of this body, and the body across the way, actually read it but just took her for her word.
“But now what we're seeing these unintended consequences continue to show up. Well, even some Democrats have had to admit as much about this issue of people having to choose between working more and getting higher wages or choosing to work less so they can collect greater government subsidies.
“One liberal columnist in ‘The Washington Post’ put it this way back in February, he wrote that the Obama health care law is a ‘drag on economic growth.’
“Now, we see that drag on economic growth as more people decide government handouts are more attractive than working more and paying higher taxes.
“The president wants higher taxes but he sets into place a health care law that discourages the work and the additional income because the government subsidies get greater if you work less and have lower income.
“So, that’s one way that the president’s health care law has been harmful, there is another way it has been harmful as well.
“Remember, this law requires employers to pay for insurance for anyone working 30 hours per week or more. That's considered a full-time job, 30 hours a week or more.
“There's bipartisan legislation in an effort to try to actually overturn that, get that back to the 40-hour week, which is what most Americans think of as a full-time job.
“But how do people have to respond to the health care law that's out there? What are towns doing with their town budgets? What are counties doing in states all across the country? What are school districts doing?
“We see what they're doing and they're talking about it. Towns, communities, counties, school districts, universities, they're cutting back on the hours of their part-time bus drivers, librarians, coaches, and other middle-class workers, cutting back to get them below 30 hours a week so they don't fall into the mandates of the President's expensive health care law.
“Now, what does that mean? It means it hurts people's take home pay. If someone is working 32, 33 hours a week and finds that their hours have been cut to 29, regardless of what the Majority Leader wants to do with minimum wage, their paycheck is going to get smaller.
“Smaller because of the health care law. Smaller because of policies that Democrats have voted for, many of whom never read it in the first place.
“So is this just a Republican versus a Democrat idea? Not necessarily, because a group of labor union leaders who supported the law initially, they have said that this health care law will ‘Destroy the foundation of the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class.’
“The House of Representatives voted last week to do something about it. They passed in a bipartisan vote, a bill that would change the definition of full-time work from 30 hours to 40 hours.
“Senator Susan Collins introduced a bill to do the same thing here in the Senate. So what's happened with it?
“Well, the Democrat Majority Leader isn't allowing a vote on that bill. This is a commonsense way to reverse some of the harm the President's health care law is doing to hardworking Americans, how it's impacting their take-home pay, how they're seeing smaller paychecks, impacting their quality of life.
“But the Senate Majority Leader has blocked the vote.
“So the health care laws hurt patients, hurts health care providers and is hurting the economy.
“And it's interesting, because the President said all he wanted to insure the people that didn't have insurance. So we have an exchange, we’ve turned the whole health care system upside-down, we’ve impacted one-sixth of the economy, and the whole purpose to get people who didn't have insurance and get them insured.
“So what does the ‘Wall Street Journal’ say about it today in the headline talking about the new statistics and the Rand study? ‘Most who bought policies through the new exchanges already had insurance.’
“They weren't uninsured. These people had insurance already. Many lost their insurance because of the President's health care law, but yet we've turned upside-down one-sixth of the economy in an effort to help some but have hurt so many in the process and that is one of the fundamental flaws and problems of a health care law where the President promised if you like your coverage, you could keep it; if you liked your doctor, you could deep; and we have millions of people's whose coverage was canceled, we have many, many people who can't keep their doctor, can't go to their hospitals, seeing higher premiums, higher co-pays, higher deductibles, more pain because of what the President and the Democrats have forced through the Congress, forced through the House, forced through the Senate.
“The American people wanted to change the health care system in this country and they knew what they wanted. They wanted the care that they need from a doctor they choose at lower cost.
“They didn't get that in this health care law. Many Americans have seen their costs go up, their initial out-of-pocket costs to buy the insurance on the exchange.
“They have seen their co-pays go up. They have seen their deductibles go up. And they can't keep the doctor of their choice.
“So they know what they wanted and this is not what they wanted but it's what they have gotten instead.
“People understand that. That's why this health care law is still so very unpopular across the country.
“Now, people see how bad this health care law is in terms of their own lives, how bad it is for the American economy.
“They see how five years of this administration and the policies have held back our economic recovery.
“Tax day, April 15th, coming next week, will be another opportunity for Americans to reflect on how much of their money Washington has been taking from them and what they've gotten in return.
“And I would just say, as they reflect upon that, they will continue to say they're not getting value for their money.
“Polling shows that people, and I hear this at home in Wyoming, for every dollar they send to the government, they think they're getting less than 50 cents on the dollar in value.
“They don't like it because it means when the government takes more, they have less to spend.
“The government is deciding where the money is spent, not families, and its families that want to make decisions for themselves about their freedoms, about their health care, about the financial choices they want, they need and work best for them.”