A day after House Democrats unveiled a new 1,990-page health care bill, U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson decried the legislationas a "government takeover" during and visit to Beaufort.
"It's the day before Halloween," said Wilson, a Republican who represents South Carolina's 2nd Congressional District. "This is the time for trick or treat and this bill is a trick."
Wilson also made stops earlier Friday in Columbia and Orangeburg to talk about health care.
Speaking from a wooden podium in front of the Rhett Gallery at the corner of Bay and West streets in Beaufort, Wilson held a 30-minute curbside press conference to criticize the bill and tout the Republican alternative, H.R. 3400.
"(House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's) bill is nothing less than a government takeover of a very important sector of our economy," said Wilson. "This bill creates 53 new government agencies and will cost more than $984 billion at a time when our national deficit is already $1.4 trillion. Ms. Pelosi admits herself that this is just the beginning. Not only are we mortgaging the future of our young people, but we're jeopardizing care for our senior citizens."
While there has been no official estimate on the total cost of the proposed legislation, the Congressional Budget Office has said funding a government-run option to compete with private insurers, as the bill suggests, would cost more than $1 trillion over 10 years.
Wilson said he chose to speak in front of the gallery to signify the damaging effect he believes the legislation would have on small, family-owned businesses.
"This bill will cost 1.6 ... to 5.5 million jobs," Wilson said. "That is catastrophic for any of the communities I represent, like Allendale County, where the unemployment is between 22 and 25 percent. We should be looking to grow the economy and create jobs."
Political experts say blocking the passage of the bill in the House hinges on the ability of Republicans to convince some of their Democratic colleagues to cross party lines and vote against the legislation. Democrats hold 256 seats in the House, where 218 makes a majority.
Wilson admitted that Pelosi and other powerful House Democrats had the votes to pass the bill, but said he was hoping to see constituents pressure their legislators to vote against it.
"This is going to be a week of record arm-twisting," Wilson said. "Americans need to stand up and demand health insurance reform and not a government takeover of our economy and our way of life."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.