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The ObamaCare Taxman Cometh

January 30, 2015

The Beatles aptly sang in their song “Taxman”: “If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat / If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.” Had ObamaCare been the law of the land at the time, they perhaps would have added, “If you need a pill, I’ll tax the bill; if you need a doc, my tax will shock,” to represent the pain of the tax penalties that will be hitting South Dakotans and millions of Americans across the country this tax season.

ObamaCare was supposed to solve our nation’s health care problems. It was supposed to drive down premiums and make health care more affordable. Instead, it’s generally done the opposite. Since ObamaCare became law in 2010, health care premiums have risen. Millions of Americans have lost their health insurance plans. Others have lost access to their doctors. Still others are stuck in new insurance plans paying more for less coverage.

The American Action Forum recently ran the numbers and estimated that 6,000 South Dakotans will have to pay the ObamaCare tax penalty for not having government-approved health insurance. According to a calculator on the Wall Street Journal’s website, the average individual who must pay the ObamaCare tax for not having government-approved insurance in South Dakota will pay a $394 penalty this year, while the average family of four in South Dakota will pay a $650 penalty. That’s a lot of money for a South Dakota family. And it’s only going to go up, because the tax penalty will rise in 2016.

South Dakotans could be spending that tax money on a number of essential items if they didn’t have to pay the penalty. An individual could purchase 201 gallons of gas or six weeks of groceries with the money he will use to pay the tax penalty. A family of four could buy three weeks of groceries, or cover almost two months’ worth of car payments, or purchase 332 gallons of gas at South Dakota prices. That would cover a lot of trips to school and football practice and dance practice.

The last few years have involved government creating many burdens on American workers and the American economy to fund big-government programs and the president’s pet projects. Take the ObamaCare tax on lifesaving medical devices like pacemakers and insulin pumps. This tax was put in place to help pay for the president’s health care law, but it has ended up negatively affecting jobs in this industry.

ObamaCare has demonstrated big government is not the answer. Instead of pushing big-government solutions, we need to rebuild our economy from the bottom up. I will continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to repeal and replace the most onerous parts of ObamaCare with policies that lower health care costs for South Dakota families.