Job One: Economic Growth
‘Historic’ liberal agenda in Washington will hurt
Kentucky and America’s financial health
by Sen. Mitch McConnell
As the calendar pages flipped to 2010, Kentuckians began looking forward to a year of greater economic growth and opportunity than the last one. The current recession, like all previous ones, will eventually end thanks to the hard work of millions of Americans. Government’s No. 1 priority should be to encourage that economic growth.
Unfortunately, national Democrats are intent on passing an agenda that is sure to kill jobs and slow down our economy when we can least afford it. While we can all agree that healthcare in this country is not perfect, and there is a need for real reform, their healthcare plan is not the reform we need.
Instead of lowering costs and boosting our economy, it will increase premiums, raise taxes and cut Medicare. It will force millions off the insurance plans they already have and want to keep. And it will cost taxpayers $2.3 trillion. That’s not reform.
The Democrats proclaimed they wanted a plan that would slow the growth of healthcare costs. But their plan would lead to hundreds of billions of dollars in more federal healthcare spending and higher costs. For instance, a Kentucky family of four with each parent earning $35,000 a year can expect to see their premiums increase by $1,700.
They also claimed they would not raise taxes on families making less than $250,000. But an analysis by the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation suggests that a quarter of all individuals and families making under $200,000 would, on average, see their taxes go up.
Seniors are overwhelmingly opposed to the plan because of its nearly $500 billion in cuts to Medicare – cuts that will lead to lower-quality care at hospitals, hospices and home healthcare services. Enrollees of Medicare Advantage would see their benefits cut by about half. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, one-fifth of all hospitals and nursing homes that treat Medicare patients would find it harder to survive under this plan.
In Kentucky, the 724,000 seniors who rely on Medicare would bear cuts in services of $1,200 per senior each year. And Kentucky may be forced to add nearly 250,000 more people to our Medicaid program, even though we can barely afford the program we have now.
Climate summit darkens forecast
The deal reached by the White House at the recent UN climate change summit in Copenhagen yielded even more bad news for America’s economy. The plan would seek to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020, essentially by imposing a new national energy tax called “cap and trade.” This would drive down the supply of energy in our country and drive up the price. Americans would be taxed every time they heated their homes in winter, filled up a car or flipped on a light switch.
In exchange for this anchor on the American economy, China and India – two of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases – made only weak commitments that would not force them to make any real, verifiable cuts to their emissions.
Without their participation, whatever action the United States takes will do nothing to reduce global emissions. Even the administration’s own Environmental Protection Agency administrator agrees, saying, “U.S. action alone will not impact world CO2 levels.” But it certainly would impact our economy.
And the liberals in Washington still seek to muzzle American workers by passing “card check” – legislation that would do away with the private ballot when employees vote whether to unionize. It would expose workers to coercion and intimidation by employers and union bosses alike. Passing card check would likely increase prices and would certainly be an assault on the centuries-old practice of the secret ballot.
Luckily it is not too late for the American people to make themselves heard on all of these issues. The liberals who propose job-killing plans like these say they are doing so in order to “make history.” But history is full of bad decisions and mistakes. Lawmakers in Congress ought to set these grandiose, wrongheaded plans aside and focus on fixing our economy and creating jobs.