Today's health summit will hopefully produce a breakthrough on a health bill that contains costs and expands coverage for the millions of Americans who are either uninsured or underinsured. Republicans should lay out honest and substantive ideas to cut the nation's health costs and grow insurance coverage for the millions without it, and the President should consider seriously incorporating some of their best ideas - like lawsuit reform and interstate insurance competition - into a final bill.
But I repeat, before passing a large health care bill, I would recommend the President and Congress do two things.
First, pass a real jobs bill that cuts business and personal taxes, that invests in growing the nation's domestic clean energy industry, that incentivizes Americans to buy more U.S. made products and that gives local governments more flexibility in spending stimulus funds on initiatives that will create jobs. The $15 billion jobs package that passed the Senate and is winding its way through the legislative process is a small start. Small business leaders, the real U.S. job creation engine, need much more to stimulate job creation.
Second, any health care bill that the President signs should not punish New York by raising our taxes. The current Senate health bill - the one the President is starting from - would specifically impose almost $5 billion of new health care taxes on New York small businesses and middle class families. Neither of these communities in New York can afford this right now. I would urge our congressional and Senate delegation to work to prevent these new taxes. Any chance we have of creating more and better jobs upstate and downstate in New York depend on a vibrant small business community.
Finally, the new health bill should not impose abortion restrictions on uninsured poor and middle class women in New York. The current Senate bill fundamentally imposes restrictions on a woman's right to choose. Unlike when the original Senate health bill passed, NARAL and Planned Parenthood should advocate constructively against any and all restrictions guaranteed by Roe v. Wade for all women, not just the privileged, and should hold House and Senate leaders accountable for any votes that restrict a woman's right to choose. If a solidly Democratic Congress and Senate can't be trusted to protect a woman's right to choose, who can?
In closing, I hope the summit goes well. But more than that, I hope that New York's small business community isn't taxed out of business.