What follows is an op-ed by Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue regarding news that Congressman Sanford Bishop has decided to vote in favor of the Health Care Reform plan Congress is expected to vote on this Sunday.
By Governor Sonny Perdue
Last Thursday, I wrote to Congressmen Sanford Bishop and John Barrow asking them to put the needs of their districts and state before their political party, and oppose the healthcare legislation pending before Congress. Now that Rep. Bishop is poised to be one of the deciding votes in favor of the legislation, I am publicly imploring him to vote no for the good of our state.
Unlike Congress, Georgia is obligated to pass a balanced budget every year. In the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression, balancing the state budget has been a monumental task entailing great sacrifices. Teachers and state employees have taken furlough days and we have been forced to close crime labs we would prefer to keep open. All told we have cut more than $3 billion from our state budget in the last 18 months. The state is now operating at 2005 spending levels, while serving nearly a million additional residents.
Congressman Bishop’s vote on healthcare will further devastate our state’s budget. It will eventually result in an additional billion dollars of Medicaid costs per year. The state simply cannot provide basic services such as education and public safety with another billion dollars in spending forced on us by Washington. We all know Congress thinks they have a national credit card with no limit, now they seem intent on roping the states into their spending rodeo.
What’s more, Congressman Bishop’s vote will delay our state’s economic recovery. Among the job killing provisions in the bill, Bishop is voting for is a requirement that triples the penalty for small businesses who do not offer health insurance to their employees. Those mom and pop businesses, the backbone of Georgia’s economy, will have to pay an additional $2,000 per part-time and full-time employee. As a small businessman myself, I know that mandate will unbearably squeeze business margins and result in layoffs and delayed hiring.
The current bill also includes an extension of the Medicare tax on all non-wage income. This means that small business owners will see their top rate increased by 20 percent and investment income taxes will increase 60 percent. I can think of no better way to slow our nation’s economic rebound.
Sadly, most Americans are unaware of these and other provisions in the healthcare bill because Congress has kept the bill hidden from them and did not unveil until the last possible minute for a Sunday vote. We’ve seen backroom, sweetheart deals like the Cornhusker Kickback and the Louisiana Purchase, examples of what citizens dislike most about politics today. These provisions mean Georgians will pay not only for increased healthcare costs here, but in other states as well.
This Sunday morning as Congressman Bishop prepares to cast a deciding vote on healthcare, I join the majority of Georgians in praying he does the right thing and votes no