Hillary Clinton, take note. Taxing businesses to provide health insurance for all will ruin the economy. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell is trying to do just that with his "Prescription for Pennsylvania" scheme.
Gov. Ed Rendell's grandiose scheme to force Pennsylvania businesses to pay higher taxes to provide health insurance to all uninsured residents would ruin the state's economy, according to an independent assessment by an advocacy group for small business.
Rendell's payroll tax to fund his "Cover All Pennsylvanians" plan would cost the state at least 167,000 jobs over the next five years, according to a study released by the National Federation of Independent Business.
Of those losses, 103,000 jobs could come from small employers (those with fewer than 100 workers). Rendell's tax-and-spend policies over the past five years have severely crippled Pennsylvania's small businesses. The health care tax would put many small firms (the backbone of Pennsylvania's economy) out of business.
"The 3 percent payroll tax on employers who presently cannot afford to provide health insurance to their employees would hit roughly 50 percent of all small employers in Pennsylvania," said Bruce Phillips, a researcher who compiled the report for NFIB. "That tax, along with insurance premiums and accounting costs, will cost small-business owners in Pennsylvania an estimated $1.9 billion annually."
Kevin Shivers, the Pennsylvania state director for the NFIB, said he was not surprised surprised to learn the added costs could cripple many Pennsylvania employers, as many small job providers are already struggling.
"Small-business owners are already struggling with an increasingly competitive global economy and rising energy bills and other costs -- a whopping new payroll tax could put many of them out of business permanently," Shivers said.
Shivers is also concerned the Rendell proposal would do little to address the fundamental problem of affordability, but could exacerbate the problem by expanding the size and scope of state government with a payroll tax on those who can least afford it.
(Rendell has been promising property tax cuts in Pennsylvania for the past five years, but has failed to deliver. Rendell has also vetoed a Republican measure to reduce the state income tax, which is also paid by business owners.)
Rather than focusing on building a larger role for state government in health care, Shivers suggests "legislators focus on measures to expand consumer choices and improve quality of services at a lower cost."
"Providing more options and greater flexibility for employers to provide health care to their employees ought to be our goal -- not creating a vast and costly bureaucracy that in many cases will do more harm than good for struggling small-business owners."
For more on the study, visit www.nfib.com
Republican state lawmakers have offered their own plan (The Real Prescription for Pennsylvania) to fix the state's failing health care system. To read more, go to www.HealthCareForPaFamilies.com
Tony Phyrillas is a leading conservative political columnist and blogger based in Pennsylvania. He is a veteran journalist with 25 years experience as a reporter, editor and columnist for several newspapers. Phyrillas received recognition for column writing in 2010 from the Associated Press Managing Editors, in 2007 from Suburban Newspapers of America and in 2006 from the Society of Professional Journalists, Keystone Chapter. A graduate of Penn State University, Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. In addition to The Mercury website (www.pottsmerc.com), his columns are featured on more than a dozen political websites and blogs. Phyrillas is a frequent guest (and occasional host) on talk radio and has been a panelist on the "Journalists Roundtable" public affairs TV program on the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). Phyrillas was named one of the '10 Leading Greek-American Bloggers in the World' in 2007 by Odyssey: The World of Greece magazine. BlogNetNews.com ranked Phyrillas the Most Influential Political Blogger in Pennsylvania for three consecutive years (2007-2010). You can follow Phyrillas on Twitter @TonyPhyrillas