That Washington

Under Attack Over Health Care Provision, Election 2012 Begins for Cantwell

By Josh Feit January 20, 2011



U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell is one of three Democratic senators the GOP went after today. In a press release, the National Republican Senatorial Committee accused Cantwell of "election-cycle political posturing."

Along with Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Ben Nelson (D-NE), Cantwell sent a letter to GOP House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) today asking him to repeal a clunky 1099 tax filing requirement on small businesses that was adopted as part of the health care reform bill.

(Starting in 2012, the provision will require businesses to file a tax form for every vendor that sells them more than $600 in goods. The provision is budgeted to raise $19 billion over the next ten years to help pay for the health care reform law.)

A Republican press release points out that Cantwell, Nelson, and Klobuchar are all up for reelection in 2012 and makes the claim  that their positions on this issue amount to "a transparent political stunt designed to mask their continued support for a budget-busting health care bill. If Senate Democrats were serious about this debate they would allow a vote on repeal."

One problem I found with the GOP release is that they include a link to a 2010 attempt to repeal the new 1099 requirement, which the press release calls a "Republican effort to repeal this same requirement last November."

Okay. But check out the roll call: Cantwell, Klobuchar, and Nelson all voted to repeal it then as well. The GOP claim that Cantwell et al are playing cynical politics falls flat.

And Cantwell's office points out that Republicans blocked two efforts to repeal the new 1099 rule themselves—first, when it was included in President Obama's small business loan bill and then again in the high-drama Bush tax extension bill at the end of the year.

Cantwell spokesman John Diamond tells PubliCola:

"Why did Congressional Republicans insist 1099 repeal be removed from the package Senator [Max] Baucus [D-MT] put together for the 2010 tax cut/estate tax/extenders/end-of year-wrap-up bill?  We heard small business loud and clear and have worked to repeal this provision once small businesses voiced concerns."

As for the GOP exhortation to repeal the health care bill, Diamond makes it clear why Sen. Cantwell—who added a provision to the health care law that puts more money into insurance for low-income people—isn't interested in repeal:

"She helped write it."
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