12/19/2011 01:19 pm ET Updated Feb 18, 2012

A Poison Pill In the Tax Bill

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and best wishes for the New Year! If Representative Boehner and the Republicans in the House of Representatives have their way, 8,100 of us won't live to see the next one.

At the urging of lobbyists for the chemical manufacturers, refiners, paper mills and other big polluters, Speaker Boehner has put poison in the stockings of children across the country. To a bill that would provide modest tax relief for working Americans, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011, he has added a deadly rider that would eliminate controls on toxic pollution for some of the most dangerous polluters in the country, the industrial boilers and incinerators used to generate heat and power at major industrial facilities.

By eliminating these pollution limits, Rep. Boehner's rider will kill up to 8,100 of us every year for the foreseeable future. Every year, it will cause more than 5,000 of us to suffer from non-fatal heart attacks, more than 50,000 of us to suffer from debilitating asthma attacks, and almost 400,000 of us to miss work because toxic pollution has made us too sick to function. It will allow and encourage big polluters to burn waste chemicals, spent solvents, scrap plastics and tires without doing anything to control their emissions -- exposing children in communities across the country to pollutants that cause birth defects, developmental damage, and cancer.

What does Speaker Boehner's attack on public health have to do with middle class tax relief? Absolutely nothing. Speaker Boehner wants to make President Obama choose between enacting his rider -- a law that will literally kill and sicken thousands of Americans every year -- and vetoing a provision that will provide tax relief. It is a political gambit known as the poison pill.

Americans should not have to pay for their tax cuts with the lives and health of their children and parents. But these are the very people -- infants, vulnerable children with asthma, and vulnerable seniors with heart and respiratory disease -- who will be killed and sickened by Speaker Boehner's poison pill. These are the people who won't be among us next year if Speaker Boehner's deadly rider becomes law.