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Barrasso: Obamacare is Shrinking Americans’ Paychecks

Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) spoke about how the President’s health care law is forcing teachers, seasonal workers, firefighters and other Americans to work fewer hours and accept smaller paychecks.


Excerpts of his remarks

“I come today to the floor, because the American people have just received more horrible news about our economy.

“The Commerce Department reported this morning that our economy grew at the smallest rate in three years. The expected, the exact number is 0.1%, much, much worse than expected.

“To be specific, investment in business equipment declined, residential home construction declined, U.S. exports fell sharply, and companies increased inventories at a much slower rate.

“Now, I'd like to read to you what some of the economists have said about this.

“Dan North, a chief economist, said ‘We've been living in sub 3% land, and people have gotten used to that as the new normal, but it's not. It's anemic.’

“To make things worse, ‘The Financial Times’ is reporting this morning that China is poised to pass the United States as the world's leading economic power this year.

“The American people deserve better than this. And they shouldn't have to accept that anemic growth as the new normal. They deserve growth, good jobs, better opportunities and that's not what they're finding from the Obama economy.

“Instead, the president continues to push an agenda that makes it harder for Americans to find good jobs and to bring home bigger paychecks.

“So today I'd like to talk about like to talk about how the health care law specifically is slowing growth and how it is making American paychecks smaller.

“I met earlier today with business leaders from Wyoming. They're here from Casper, from Cheyenne, from Jackson. And I heard input from them regarding how the health care law has impacted their businesses, how its impacted our state in Wyoming, and how its impacted our economy—not just in Wyoming but nationwide.

“So it's interesting, Mr. President, to watch the White House and the president specifically spike the ball claiming that 8 million people signed up for health insurance through the government exchanges.

“At the same time, President Obama has declared that the national debate about his health care law is ‘Over.’ Well the meaning of the numbers is highly questionable, and the administration's victory lap is premature. In fact, the Obamacare debate is far from over.

“So I come to the floor today, to talk about additional side effects of the Obama health care law. And I'm going to continue to do this week after week, because the side effects on the American people, on the American economy, on health care in this country continue to be very damaging.

“Today I want to talk about smaller paychecks as one of the Obamacare side effects. So to just point out, the debate is not over the for the millions of Americans who are experiencing the negative side effects of the president's health care law, voted on by Democrats and not by Republicans.

“Now, one of the worst of these side effects is smaller paychecks that many families are for example because specifically of the mandates of the health care law. It's happening all around the country.

“So let me tell you what's happening as reported by the ‘New Hampshire Union Leader.’ This is just one example. The article is talking about small businesses that have found that paper work and costs related to the law are threatening the economic platforms on which their companies are built.

“It quoted a man who runs a ski area saying that the law could mean that he has to open later in the season and close earlier in the season. That's because people on his payroll for 120 consecutive days or longer have to be offered health insurance under the Democrats' health law.

“So mother nature might say there's plenty of snow. The skiers and snowboarders are ready to go. The resort wants to open, restaurants are ready to serve people, hotels are ready to host people, but Obamacare says the resort can't open without facing enormous costs for Washington-mandated insurance.

“It’s hurting people working at the ski resorts, it is hurting people in businesses in those communities. So who pays for the negative side effects? Well, it's the seasonal workers who will now be limited to fewer than 120 days of work at ski facilities like this one in New Hampshire. They'll work fewer days, smaller paychecks because of the health care law.

“The ‘New Hampshire Union Leader’ summed it up this way, they said, ‘As snowboarders say, ‘Bummer.’

“But it’s not just the seasonal workers who are being hurt. This article talks about the ski resorts in Colorado also being hurt.

“Even in North Carolina, state agencies, state government agencies are starting to get very worried about how to deal with the health law's mandates. The law says employers, including state and local governments, have to cover people who work 30 hours a week or more. That's who the law considers full-time workers.

“Now, when I talk to business leaders from Wyoming, most people think of full-time workers as 40 hours. Not President Obama, he's a 30-hour man.

“So according to a story from WTVD in Raleigh, state agencies are looking at cutting the hours of part-time workers to keep them under that 30-hour limit. The North Carolina Agriculture Department has about 250 part-time employees who are now working more than 30 hours. And the North Carolina Department of Transportation has almost 600 people in the same situation.

“So North Carolina is going to have to look very closely at what to do with those people and that can mean smaller paychecks. The local governments are having to make these same decisions because of the health care law.

“WITN, another station in Greenville, North Carolina did a story last month about how schools are cutting the hours that substitute teachers can work. Same 30-hour Obama workweek limit again.

“The health care law wasn't about substitute teachers, but they're the ones feeling the negative side effects, and they're the ones seeing smaller paychecks.

“The story quoted a teacher in Pitt County, North Carolina, who said she got a letter from the school district there telling her she wouldn't be able to work as much. Substitute teachers are now limited to three days a week. Why? Because of the expensive mandates of Obamacare.

“She told the TV station, she said, ‘I'm willing to work, I’m able to work, I want to work. Now they're telling me I can only work for so long.’

“This teacher is one of 200 in her North Carolina school district who are going to be limited to actually in North Carolina, 21 hours of week. She is wondering how she is going to make ends meet with 21 hours a week. That is a side effect of the health care law, and it means smaller paychecks for substitute teachers.

“President Obama says the debate is over. Well, is it over for teachers in North Carolina who are seeing their time cut to under 30 hours a week? Is it over in ski resort communities in New Hampshire and in Colorado?

“Look what's going on in Iowa. An article just last week in ‘The Autumnal Courier’ said that a local school district was cutting the hours all of all para-educators from 37 hours per week to 29. Those extra hours may not mean much to Democrats on the floor of the Senate or the House members who voted for this health care law, but they're a real big deal for a lot of families that are struggling in the Obama economy.

“In Colorado, the ‘Aspen Daily News’ reported last month that adjunct professors at the Colorado Mountain College are going to have the same limit of 29 hours a week.

“This school has 112 full-time faculty, but it's got 600 part-time professors. Some of them just want to teach a class here or there to make extra money, but some of them are trying to string together enough hours to support themselves, to support their families and they are getting hammered by the president's health care law that every Democrat in this body voted for.

“It's happening all over the country. I heard stories today. New Hampshire, North Carolina, Colorado.

“Here's a final example. In a borough in Alaska, they announced earlier this year that it's putting a cap on the hours of firefighters and emergency medical technicians.

“According to one technician some stations are limiting people to just 24 hours a week. So we see teachers, firefighters, professors, seasonal workers—all hurt by the side effects of the  Obama health care law and they’re all getting hit with smaller paychecks. Nothing they’ve asked for. They want to work, they're ready to work, they’re willing to work.

“We have a weak economy, an anemic economy. And the president and Democrats don't seem to care. They don't seem to care. They think that the debate is over.

“President Obama says the debate is over. He says Democrats who voted for this said, you know, should forcefully defend and be proud.

“How can you, Mr. President, forcefully defend these smaller paychecks? How can you be proud of these smaller paychecks because of your law and what you've had Democrats vote for?

“In North Carolina, Alaska when you hear these stories, New Hampshire, one after another after another. Colorado. Well, it’s not over for Americans like those who are continuing to get hit in their wallets.

“People in New Hampshire, North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, Alaska, all over the rest of the country.

“And it's not over for Republicans who will continue to stand up for those Americans and keep pushing for commonsense reform that will actually help people get the care and what they wanted all along, which was better access to quality, affordable health care.”