Check out today's House Republican Leadership Press Conference. A transcript follows the video:
Conference Chairman Pence:
Good morning. We just completed our weekly meeting of the House Republican Conference. Now that health care reform has moved out of the public eye and into the smoke-filled rooms here on Capitol Hill, Republicans are more determined than ever to make sure the American people know exactly what the impact of the Democrats’ plan to launch a government takeover of health care will mean to Americans in every sector of our society.
This week, particularly, Republicans are focusing on the impact on small businesses.
Today the President of the United States will head to Maryland to announce the plan to use a portion of the Wall Street bailout to support additional loans to small business America. Judging from the impact that the Democrats’ health care plan will have on small business, it sounds like small businesses are going to need the help.
The facts are that small businesses today represent 99 percent of all businesses in this country and have created more than 72 percent of all the jobs in this country in recent years. Nevertheless, the Democrats’ health care plan includes $820 billion in higher taxes, including a $544 billion so-called ‘surtax on the rich.’
But a careful examination of that definition shows that more than half of the Americans who are included in the Democrats’ planned "surtax" are actually small business owners filing as individuals. Two hundred billion dollars plus in the Democrats’ plan will also be new taxes on businesses that can’t afford to pay for their employee health care plans. The reality is, when you look at the extraordinary impact of the tax increases on small business America in this country, I just have to feel that the president offering bailout funds to small businesses while pushing a government takeover of health care is like getting a Christmas bonus right before you get a pink slip.
Republicans have a better plan. The Republican plan will create more jobs and more opportunity and more choices in health care while containing cost and increasing access. We look forward to Democrats bringing health care reform out of the back rooms, out of the smoke-filled rooms, and engage in a truly bipartisan process that will put the interests of our economy, including our small businesses, in the forefront.
Rep. Sam Graves:
Thanks, Mike. I’m Sam Graves, the ranking Member on the Small Business Committee. Unquestionably, health care coverage for employees is a small business’ number one concern and unfortunately small businesses aren’t the number one concern when it comes to health care reform here in Congress. H.R. 3200 has employer mandates in it; it has tax increases in it. Small businesses are our job creators and history has proven that they will be the ones who will lead us out of this recession. Uncertainly is looming out there for small businesses. They don’t know whether to hire new workers or wait and see how much taxes are going to be increased.
Today, Speaker Pelosi is going to hold an economic forum to discuss job creation. Bringing a whole bunch of economists into a room is not how you discuss job creation. The way you do it is to talk to small businesses because they’re the ones that have actually balanced a budget. Small businesses are the ones that have actually made a payroll. Small businesses are the ones that have actually created a job.
Republican Whip Cantor:
Good morning, the President today is going to go and speak to small businesses and going to announce yet another program to try and stimulate job creation at the small business level. And that intention behind that certainly is something that all of us want to see is the creation of more jobs. But the contrast is so stark if you look at what’s going on with the Democrats here on the Hill. While the rhetoric is all about trying to create jobs, Speaker Pelosi and her Members are trying desperately to ram through a health care bill that is paid for on the backs of small businesses and working families. It just does not make sense and is not consistent.
As Sam just spoke, we see that the Speaker is going to host a group of individuals to talk yet again about what they can do to try and resurrect their attempt to stimulate the economy. Let’s face it, the stimulus bill didn’t create jobs, it simply left a lot of debt. And that’s where we are right now, and the individuals she's bringing in are the same individuals that she brought who indicated that the stimulus bill was going to stave off unemployment and keep it a rate below eight percent, which utterly did not happen. So we Republicans are going to continue to advocate that which we have been advocating since January in our stimulus plan. We believe very strongly we ought to create an environment in which taxes are low and incentives are in place for folks to put investment capital to work again. Our Economic Recovery Solutions Group, that the Leader has appointed, will be meeting again this week to make sure that we continue to posit the alternatives that we believe can result in putting Americans back to work.
Conference Vice Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers:
Good morning. It’s almost the end of October, and as I was home talking to small business owners and individuals, I was talking to one individual in particular who was laid off last November. He’s a skilled employee who can’t find a job and people are concerned and they’re frustrated right now and rightfully so because as we all are aware, unemployment is at 9.8 percent and rising. We’ve lost 3 million jobs in this country since the stimulus bill was signed into law, and we can do better.
The Republicans at the beginning of this year said that the key to economic recovery in this country was going to be helping our small business owners, helping our job creators in this country. And we believe it is time now more than ever to enact policies that will provide relief to our small business owners and help them create jobs. And that’s going to be the way that the economy is recovered. We can, in one stroke of the pen, make a big change for small business, and change the cycle right now of layoffs and deficit spending by simply helping our small businesses and getting this economy going.
Republican Leader Boehner:
American small businesses and families continue to struggle and they continue to ask the question, ‘where are the jobs?’ As you’ve heard, Speaker Pelosi is convening a panel of economists – the same economists who gave them advice on their stimulus bill. Maybe they’ll actually look at what’s happened and realize that it hasn’t worked because American families are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’
This problem that we have is being exacerbated by the Democrat Majority. Put yourself in the shoes of a small business person. They’re looking at a national energy tax being proposed by the Democrats. They’re looking at this government takeover of health care that’s going to tax small employers who don’t provide health care for their employees – that many of them can’t afford to. And, there’s no real clear vision about they are going to do in terms of raising taxes. Yes, there’s this major tax increase in their health care bill. But how about the 15 percent capital gains rate that is supposed to go to 20 next year? How about the top rate that is expected to go up three and a half points next year? How about the tax on dividends that’s going up next year? So, what’s happening is, you’ve got small business people in America who are already struggling and here they look at what Washington’s doing and it’s causing them to sit on their hands. Why? Because of all the uncertainty about the policies coming out of Washington D.C.
At the end of the day, until we get small businesses working again, we’re not going to get the economy working again. That’s why we ought to be promoting policies that would help small businesses invest new equipment [and create] more jobs in their communities. But I’m telling you, it will not happen until there is more certainty about a better direction here in Washington. Republicans have offered better solutions on the stimulus, better solutions on the budget, better solutions on energy, and I think we’ve got a much better solution on health care to make the current system work better for more Americans. This is the kind of reasonable direction that Americans want us to go in and they want to see us do this in a bipartisan way.