Thursday, March 4, 2010

The health care reform debate isn’t about what politicians in Washington want. It’s about the American people. It’s about the families asking, “Where are the jobs?” while Democrats in Washington remain focused on this massive government takeover of health care that would just destroy more jobs.

It’s about the small-business owners stuck in limbo because they cannot add payroll without knowing the full extent of the new taxes and red tape they will be hit with under Democrats’ government takeover of health care.

After about a year of debate on this issue, the American people know the bill that is set to be rammed through Congress will cause health care premiums to go up and the quality of health care to go down. So they’re asking their elected representatives in Washington to stop and start over with a step-by-step approach that reflects the realities families and small businesses face today.

Republicans have proposed common-sense reforms that empower patients without raising taxes, imposing job-killing mandates, slashing Medicare benefits or creating a giant new bureaucracy. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has confirmed that the Republican health care bill would lower premiums for families and small businesses by up to 10 percent. All of the details are available at

The Republican health care bill also recognizes that protecting the value and inherent dignity of all human life is the foundation of all health care. The Republican plan prohibits taxpayer-funded abortion coverage. Period.

Barring the use of taxpayer funds for abortion and insurance policies that cover abortion has been the law of the land for more than 30 years, and a majority of Americans want to keep it that way. In the fall, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives approved an amendment co-authored by Reps. Bart Stupak, Michigan Democrat, and Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican, that would uphold current law.

Unfortunately, the health care bill that the Senate passed on Christmas Eve creates a loophole through which taxpayer funds could be used for abortions and to subsidize insurance policies that cover abortion.

What’s worse, President Obama didn’t even bother to address the issue in the proposal he outlined last week, which is based on the 2,733-page Senate bill. This was no surprise: Since taking office, Mr. Obama has taken a series of dangerous steps to unravel long-standing pro-life protections.

He didn’t bring it up at last week’s White House health care “summit,” either. So I did, because health care reform should be an opportunity to protect human life - not end it - and the American people agree.

Washington Democrats either aren’t listening or just don’t care. Unable to win public support for their massive government take-over of health care, Democrats are going to try to ram it through by using the toxic “reconciliation” maneuver. As if there weren’t already enough kickbacks, payoffs and sweetheart deals surrounding this job-killing monstrosity.

Among its many shortcomings, reconciliation cannot deal with the abortion question. Pro-life Democrats in the House, however, already have indicated that they oppose the open-ended language in the Senate bill. So now what? The president’s silence on this issue is deafening.

President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should be reminded that the American people are in charge of this country. They didn’t send us to Washington to circumvent their will. They sent us to Washington to listen and to do right by them and their families.

There’s nothing right about jamming through a massive government takeover of health care that spends money we don’t have and kills the jobs we need to get our economy moving again.

It’s time for Democrats to unplug their ears and listen to the American people so we can scrap this bill and start over with a clean sheet of paper and a step-by-step, common-sense approach to health care reform that lowers costs for families and small businesses and protects human life.

Rep. John Boehner of Ohio is leader of the House Republicans.

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