Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Wal-Mart is but the Beginning

Brendan Miniter at Opinion Journal interviewed Maryland's Delegate James Hubbard, a Democrat from Prince George's County about the Wal-Mart bill. The plans Mr. Hubbard revealed should send a chill down the spine of any business owner.

He(Mr. Hubbard) began our conversation by pointing out that the Wal-Mart bill--which forces companies with more than 10,000 employees to spend at least 8% of their payroll on health care or pay the state the difference--was always intended to be just the first step.

It appears that Mr. Hubbard has been trying for years to force employers to provide health insurance using the tax code. He would use the tax collected from these businesses to expand Medicaid eligibility. In other words, he is trying to push socialized medicine. The first company that was targeted was Wal-Mart.
It passed last year and was enacted last month, when the Legislature overrode Gov. Robert Ehrlich's veto. Two weeks ago Mr. Hubbard was at it again, this time introducing a new bill to mandate that companies with at least 1,000 employees spend 4.5% of their payroll on health care or pay the state the difference. Once this piece is in place, Mr. Hubbard told me, the next step will be to create a similar mandate--perhaps 2% or 3%--for companies with fewer than 1,000 employees. Each year, Mr. Hubbard hopes to expand the mandate to include ever smaller companies with the ultimate goal of "health coverage for all Marylanders."

You have to give Mr. Hubbard credit for being honest. He makes it plain that every business is going to be made to pay for health care or pay the state. If Mr. Hubbard gets what he wants will he stop there? Is the 2-3% going to be enough? I'm pretty sure that something can be found to justify a bigger increase. And why stop at health coverage? How about retirement, child care, senior care, the homeless? Socialism will never be satisfied.

Already a dozen other states are seeing what Maryland is doing and are getting on the bandwagon. They are introducing their own Wal-Mart bills. The business community needs to get behind Wal-Mart because if Wal-Mart fails to get these bills defeated all businesses will suffer.

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