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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Republicans v. Small Businesses and the Women They Employ

          Republicans in the House (along with sixteen Democrats, including my own "Republican-Lite" Representative, Heath Shuler) voted today to pass the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act".  Federal tax dollars are already prohibited from being used for abortion procedures (in most cases.  There are still some funded in the case of rape, incest and threats to the mother's health), so what does this Bill do to add to an already straight-forward legislated policy?  It penalizes private companies which offer Health Insurance Plans which offer coverage for the procedure.

          Now, as a dude, I don't really have any major stake in the abortion debate.  I've never had to make that choice in the past and am well past the time when I might have to make that choice in the future.  I suppose I am Pro-Choice inasmuch as I firmly believe in the "choice" part of the label.  I think people should be allowed to choose to have a baby or not to do so.  Simple as that.  I don't waste time debating the whole morality side of it.  Any moral choice you make is between you and God. I have neither the right nor the inclination to judge you.

          Republicans (and those pesky anti-freedom, pro-conservative vote pandering Democrats) don't see it that way.  They see the moral certainty of a majority of their constituents and adjust their public opinions accordingly.  They probably don't have any personally-held beliefs, they are politicians.  Whichever sentiment runs highest among their constituency (except for being in favor of higher taxation, that is.  They always side with the money over the voters on that one) is the moral position they will lay claim to.  In fact, the only way they get re-elected while voting against the interests of the voters in matters of economics and government services is to get said unrepresented voters riled up enough over unrelated matters to come to the polls.  Hell, since the Civil Rights Act passed, they've been a little short on things to rile up the electorate about. If abortion and the rights of homosexuals were ever to be settled issues, these jackasses wouldn't have anything besides terrorism and Kenyan-born Seekrit Mooslem Socialists left to pander with.

          So, the Bill.  This bill, under the guise of safeguarding hardworkin' Americans' tax dollars from indiscriminate whores and the baby-killers they employ, would eliminate tax deductions for employer-provided Health Insurance Plans which cover abortion.  Now, I'm not entirely sure how much in the way of Tax Deductions the average small business gets for providing Health Insurance to their employees, but I'm gonna go with the entirely reasonable estimate of "a lot".  A quick search of current tax law shows the actual amount of Health Insurance premiums paid that can be deducted as a business expense at approximately 100%  That's right, businesses currently may deduct one hundred percent of their share of premiums paid right off of the top of their income statement.  For a small business, that can be a substantial incentive.

          That incentive is what H. R. 3 is using as an coercive threat to further limit women's Health Care choices.  In the US, roughly 46 percent of Employer-Provided Health Insurance policies cover abortion services.  Last year, those policies paid for 12 percent of the abortions performed in this country.  It's hard to extrapolate from these numbers (because of the large number of uninsured women of child-bearing age) but the number isn't that big.  Any reasonable accountant might say to the owner of a small business, "Our plan covers abortion, but the odds are it's hardly ever used and there's no way to even know if it has been because of HIPAA (yeah, right), so why not just switch to a plan that doesn't offer it.  If we don't, we'll lose the tax deduction on that expense, which will then make it 20-33 percent harder to offer insurance to our employees at all."  A reasonable business owner might do just that.  If the employer's share of the average policy cost is around 9000 dollars a year, a business with 20 employees is paying out 180,000 dollars a year in premiums.  In an S-Corp, where the business' profits funnel onto the owner's 1040, that could be up to a 60 thousand dollar tax savings.  We wouldn't fault the employer for that, but we also shouldn't force that choice on him.

          I dunno.  For all their screaming about personal freedoms and getting government off our backs and out of our wallets, Conservatives sure do show themselves to be full of shit when it comes to these sorts of issues.  They are using the power of the purse to force their morals onto women through a third party agent.  As I said before, it's not a huge number of procedures (maybe 125 thousand insurance claims for abortions out of around 1.2 million abortions performed yearly) but it's the principle of the thing.  Just because it only impacts the yearly health care choices of less than 2 percent of the population doesn't make it right.  I guess if you needed an abortion and didn't have 500 bucks to spare, you could always ask your boss to loan it to you out of the 60 grand he saved that year by dropping coverage in response to the Republicans' plan.  You'd do that, right?  Hell no, you wouldn't.  I wouldn't do that if I needed to get my swollen prostate palpated  and that sort of medically-supervised ass play is damn near the new American Pastime (sorry, baseball).  No.  You would find the money, or you would have a kid you weren't emotionally or financially ready for.  At least the Republicans aren't trying to dismantle Medicaid, WIC, Head Start, SCHIP, the Childrens' Health Initiative, Affordable Child Care, Food Stamps, AFDC, the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Credit, Federal Housing Assistance, the Student Loan Program and the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program, right?  Right?  So, you see, it's just easier to just have the kid.  That's what God, your Congressman and the nosy old bitch down the street would like you to do.  I'm sure they'll be there every step of the way to help you and your child succeed.

Tim

2 comments:

  1. I didn't know Shuler was your rep. That makes sense. He's what you get when you broaden your tent to try and create a super-majority. Face, meet palm.

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  2. He's done a so-so job. When I bitched at him for his "No" vote on Health Care Reform, he actually sent me an honest-to God email explaining his position on the matter. His Republican predecessor, Charles Taylor, wouldn't even answer queries from "liberal" newspapers.

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