State Republicans lead effort to unravel health care law

WASHINGTON — Rep. Wally Herger wants to junk the new federal health care law, saying small businesses are under siege and “looming devastation” awaits the economy.

Rep. Dan Lungren opts for a more gradual approach, proposing to scrap some reporting requirements for small businesses contained in the law.

While their bills have yet to win a hearing, California Republicans are among those on Capitol Hill leading the charge to dismantle what President Barack Obama calls his crowning achievement.

Even if the bills don’t advance, the issue is sure to provide fodder in this year’s political campaigns, with Republicans saying it will be a winning issue for their party.

Democrats who control Congress say Republicans are wasting time.

“We worked over a year and a half on that and consulted with a lot of people and realized that this is an important part and fabric of American life,” said Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento. “It is now law, and I’d have no intention of repealing this.”

Lungren, of Gold River, countered, “The American people are against it. We are finding out more and more how destructive this is of our economy.”

Herger, of Chico, plans to circulate a discharge petition that would force a vote on his bill over objections from Democratic leaders. He would need 218 signatures for the legislation to reach the House floor.

Starting in 2014, the law will levy a $3,000-per-employee penalty on businesses whose workers pay more than 9.5 percent of their income in health insurance premiums.

Lungren’s bill would repeal a provision that requires any business that purchases more than $600 in goods or services from another business to file a 1099 tax form to the Internal Revenue Service.

“Large corporations have whole divisions to handle such transaction paperwork, but for a small business — which doesn’t have the manpower — this is yet another brick on their back,” Lungren said.

He added that the law would hurt small businesses in particular because companies will want to deal with larger firms to avoid filing 1099 forms.

Rob Hotakainen covers Central Coast issues for The Tribune from the McClatchy Washington Bureau.