This was a vote to table (kill) a motion to send the major health care bill back to the Finance Committee with instructions to add language requiring that any provisions of the legislation imposing a new tax not become effective until the programs that the tax revenues support actually start.
Sen. Hutchison (R-TX) was leading the effort to add the language, and opposed the effort to kill it. She claimed her proposed language will “do a simple thing” and will adhere to “the American sense of fair play . . . that you do not start collecting taxes before you have a program that you might want to buy into.” She noted that $100 billion in new taxes . . . will start next month . . . but there is no program that anyone can sign up for that will supposedly make it easier to get health care coverage in this country until 2014, 4 years away. She asked, rhetorically, “would (it) be fair to start (taxing) before we could ever see a program . . . .”
Sen. Thune (R-SD) co-sponsored the effort to add the language. He said it reflects “a simple principle of fairness . . . When . . . you are going to raise taxes, you ought to align the tax increases and the benefits so they start at essentially the same time . . . .” He then referred to the claims of the supporters of the bill that it will not actually raise taxes, but will be revenue positive. Thune said: “One of the reasons the revenue (from) the bill increases (is that) the tax increases (begin) immediately . . . but the majority of the spending, 99 percent, doesn't occur until January 1 of 2014 and beyond.”
Sen. Baucus (D-MT), who chairs the Finance Committee, opposed the addition of the proposed language and favored killing the effort to include it in the bill. Supporting his position, he first noted that the bill provided “tax credits (not tax increases) to help American families, workers, and small businesses . . . .” Baucus claimed: “The vast majority of those Americans . . . will receive tax credits; that is, tax reductions, (to) help (with) their copays and other out-of-pocket costs.” He suggested that the motion to add the language Hutchison proposed was not needed because: “This bill is a tax cut for Americans . . . .”
Baucus also countered the arguments of Hutchison and Thune regarding the matching of taxes and programs by taking the position that the provisions of the bill are very straightforward, and were not drafted in a way that was meant to deceive the public. Baucus claimed: “I have never been part of a more transparent process . . . for something of this magnitude over this period of time . . . this bill has been out here (for all to see).”
The motion to kill the additional language carried by a vote of 56-41. All fifty-six “aye” votes were cast by Democrats. Two other Democrats joined all thirty-nine Republicans present in voting “nay”. As a result, the Senate effectively decided not to add language to the health care legislation suspending the imposition of any new tax until the programs supported by the new tax actually started.