As Americans wait to learn whether the Supreme Court will strike down the keystone of the national health care law, some members of Congress are attempting to dismantle other provisions that will, if left in place, cost health care consumers dearly.
Soon, high court justices will release a ruling on “Obamacare’s” mandate that everyone obtain government-approved insurance. In the meantime, provisions of the law such as a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices are under attack.
It has been pointed out the tax would affect everything from tongue depressors to wheelchairs. Manufacturers could either cut expenses for work such as research or pass the cost on to consumers. A bill to rescind the tax was approved by a wide margin, 270-146, in the House of Representatives.
Members of the Senate should follow suit. Those who refuse to vote against the tax should be prepared to explain to voters why they support President Obama’s law instead of their constituents.
War on coal working
They may have been high-fiving each other in the White House the other day, after a report indicating the smallest percentage of the nation’s energy in nearly 40 years was generated from coal in March. President Obama’s war on the coal industry is working.
But in millions of homes where electric bills are going up and thousands of industries where reasonably priced power is the difference between success and telling employees they’ve been laid off, the reaction ought to be different.
Only about one-third of the nation’s electricity came from coal-fired generating plants in March, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports. Nearly the same amount, 30 percent, was from power stations fueled by natural gas.
Less than two years ago the numbers were different. In 2010, Americans relied on coal for 44.8 percent of their electricity.
But now Obama, using the Environmental Protection Agency as his club, is pounding the coal industry hard. Natural gas is the fuel of choice for power plants, the White House makes it clear.
Electric utility executives have gotten the message. The EIA predicts that from 2013-15, just four new coal-fired power plants will be built in the United States. During the same period, 104 new gas-fueled stations are expected.
But even at today’s depressed prices, it costs much more to generate power from gas than coal. A government report shows utility companies spend about $2.41 to generate 10 million BTUs of energy from coal — and about $3.70 for the same amount from gas.
In other words, if your utility is planning to switch — and most are — prepare for electric bills more than 50 percent higher than now. That won’t please most people, but it makes the White House happy.