(The following letter was sent to the West Virginia Congressional Delegation on Wednesday from Stephen G. Roberts, president, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce.)
Democrats in Congress have determined to side with President Obama and enforce the immediate implementation of the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate which requires families and individuals to be covered by government regulated health insurance, or pay a penalty to the IRS. Republicans in Congress have offered a two-part compromise: Delay the penalties against individuals and families who do not buy the mandatory health-care insurance for one year, and, importantly, require Congress and the White House to accept the health-care coverage the law requires for the vast majority of us living in the United States.
The president and his party's lack of willingness to yield any ground whatsoever on these two points has resulted in a temporary shutdown of certain government services. Missing from the debate has been a straight forward answer to the question on the minds of many: "If the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is as good as you say why must you impose a penalty against those who are not covered? And why shouldn't Congress, Congressional staff and the White House live with a law that you say is good for all the rest of us?" As our state's Democrats point fingers at Republicans, isn't this a fair question?
For over two years, the supporters of President Obama have told us Obamacare is good and once we see it and understand it, we will like it. Maybe so. But, if Democrats in Congress really believe this, why the need for coercive penalties? Why must poor working families and healthy young people be forced to buy what they may not be able to afford or want, or face a penalty for their choice? And why can't individuals and families get an extra year to study, learn and decide? The President handed this one year delay to business, labor groups and government employers, but is unwilling to provide the same option to ordinary people. And, as of today, President Obama has the backing of West Virginia's Democrats in Congress.
President Obama insists that he won the election and the American people must now accept implementation of his signature legislation. Democrats in Congress are backing him despite polls showing that less than 40 percent of Americans support the law as written.
So, Congress once again the question: Why the penalties against individuals and families? Why have you exempted yourselves from aspects of this law that apply to me and to the vast majority of West Virginians and why, as President Obama forcefully said "No compromise?"
President, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce