GOP Tax Stance Raises Stakes in Debate on Health Care Reform
Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) on Monday announced that all but one Republican lawmaker has signed a "no tax pledge" in this year's budget negotiations, a move that could make it more difficult for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) plan to overhaul the health care system to win legislative approval, the Ventura County Star reports.
The 15 senators and 31 Assembly members who signed the pledge represent enough votes to prevent the two-thirds approval of a bill that would impose a tax.
McClintock said the pledge applies to Schwarzenegger's health care reform proposal, which would require contributions from employers, individuals, insurers and medical providers (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 4/10).
Schwarzenegger maintains that the proposed contributions are fees, not taxes, because they would be reused to pay for health coverage (California Healthline, 2/9). A fee requires a simple majority vote in the Legislature, which would not need any Republican votes.
If the contributions are considered a tax, the proposal would require two-thirds approval in the Legislature, raising the possibility for Republicans to block approval of the health care reform plan.
McClintock said Schwarzenegger's proposed contributions do not meet the definition of a fee because the contributions are mandatory (Ventura County Star, 4/10).