Local Republican Jim Gerlach Creates Bill to Tax Flu Shots

Congress has no trouble with "bipartisan" when it comes to taking our money.

Do you have the flu? Are you sneezing, congested, miserable? Good. Sixth District Congressman Jim Gerlach sees money in that. He wants to tax your flu symptoms to help pay down the national debt, thus adding misery to misery.

Gerlach, whose district includes parts of Chester and Montgomery counties, is the co-author of House bill H.R. 475, which would tax the flu vaccine at 75 cents a shot. There is a similar bill in the U.S. Senate.

There will be 135 million doses of flu shots distributed this year. The government’s take under Gerlach’s flu-tax bill would be 100 million dollars. Gerlach is a Republican, but the bills are a bipartisan effort. Proof that both parties like taking your money.

The rationale for the bill is a government program called the Vaccine Injury Trust Fund that provides compensation to people injured by vaccines. Here’s the puzzling part: The fund already has $3.5 billion, much more money than is needed. The trust has paid out just $2.5 billion over the last 25 years.

So what is going on? For the answer to that question you need to read the fine print of the bill. Any money not used to pay off vaccine claims will be invested in U.S. Treasury securities. In other words, the money will be used to finance the nation’s $16.5 trillion debt.

You can expect much more of this budgetary sleight of hand as Congress comes up with new ways to take more money from you because it can’t or won’t deal with the debt. But the Flu Tax is especially insidious as the increase in price will only make it more difficult for the poor to get the shot. Congress should be encouraging more people to get vaccinated, not discouraging them by making it more costly. The flu shot helps the economy by eliminating sick days, and increasing employee production.

Most importantly, it can save lives.

Politicians normally likes to tax vices, vanities and excesses. Things like alcohol, cigarettes, gambling, tanning and gas. It is easier to get support for a tax when you claim you are trying to keep people healthy. Now explain the flu-tax bill. It just makes no sense.

The bill is expected to pass and be signed into law, unless, of course, politicians realize they have been caught with their hand in the vaccine jar. Email, tweet, post and phone your displeasure to your senators and congressperson. You can start with @JimGerlach on Twitter. If anything, the flu shot should be free for more people, not more expensive.

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