House Republicans are preparing for a vote on Wednesday to delay the ObamaCare individual mandate, in the wake of Barack Obama violating the Constitution to rewrite the law and postpone the employer mandate. Just for good measure, it sounds like the House will ratify the delay of the employer mandate as well, because enforcing the rule of law and holding a President accountable for abusing his office is so... 2008. Also, the Republicans want to emphasize that they think holding off on the mandates is a good idea, and make Obama pay a political price for giving businesses a break while leaving individuals to twist in the wind.
That's good politics - it'll be fun watching the Empty Chair threaten to veto a bill that would lift the burden of ObamaCare from the young people he's desperately trying to squeeze for cash. You kids still have to buy overpriced health insurance, or else pay a special tax Barack Obama designed just for you! Maybe his approval ratings will finally get down in the thirties, where they belong.
But it's also a very good idea to give businesses a break from that mandate, because ObamaCare is killing a job market already weakened by Obama's other policies. (Hows that War On Energy going, Mr. President?) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce just released a survey showing that 74 percent of small businesses are planning to fire people, hold off on hiring or cut work hours because of ObamaCare's expensive mandates.
Fear of ObamaCare has already been a powerful factor in our employment quagmire, since the same survey reported that only 17 percent of small businesses say they have added employees in the past two years. Roughly the same number anticipate making new highers over the next two years. Dear Lord. Barack Obama has single-handedly killed the engine of American job creation. If a foreign power had done that kind of damage, we'd declare war on them.
30 percent of small businesses said they're not ready to comply with ObamaCare; 25 percent said they don't know what they have to do. (Pro tip: don't ask the power-crazed Democrats who rammed this law down your throats for help. Most of them still have no idea what the Affordable Care Act actually says. Very few human beings have read the whole thing.) You can see why nervous and confused business owners would be reluctant to expand their operations and make new hiring commitments. Does anyone really think they'll swoon with relief and indulge in a hiring frenzy because His Majesty decreed they have one more year until the hammer comes down?
The Chamber of Commerce survey is clear about what small business owners think we should be doing. Huge 80-percent majorities want entitlement spending reformed, taxes reduced and simplified, domestic energy supplies increased, and the regulatory burden reduced. In other words, the exact opposite of everything Obama is doing.
81 percent of the survey respondents also said they thought the immigration system is "broken and needs to be reformed," although the survey didn't get into more specifics about what sort of reform they had in mind.
The small business community is generally optimistic about their personal prospects, and the health of the local economy... but only 17 percent of them think the national economy is on the right track. That's a good reason the Leviathan State should dump a trillion dollars of blubber and get the hell out of their way, so investors and entrepreneurs can get America moving again, one community at a time.
A chilling concluding point from the Chamber of Commerce survey: "The only thing that scares small businesses more than what Washington has already done (23%) is what the federal government will do next (63%). 78% of small businesses are concerned about the prospect of Nancy Pelosi regaining her speakership following the 2014 elections." As well they should be. God knows what else she thinks we should pass to find out what's in it.
For a pointed example of how ObamaCare is crushing small business, look at the goofy menu requirements imposed on restaurants and grocery stores. Restaurants are now required to publish calorie counts for all menu items, at considerable cost, even though existing rules to require such information in places like New York have resulted in no measurable change in consumer behavior. It costs a lot of money to comply with this useless rule, and it provides a clear cash-money incentive to limit consumer choice - the best way to escape the cost of this ObamaCare mandate is to offer a very limited menu that never changes. We'll have all the delightful innovation and variety of a Soviet food dispensary.
And as Competitive Enterprise Institute analyst Liz Thatcher explains, this rule was imposed by rent-seeking, politically-connected big corporations as a club against smaller competitors. The very smallest competitors are supposed to be exempt, but the exemption is largely an illusion:
Given the significant costs Section 4205 imposes, it's worth asking who would benefit from it or support it. The National Restaurant Association lobbied to include Section 4205 in Obamacare, allegedly to encourage "national uniformity," not only for its members, but also for gas stations and grocery stores that sell ready-made food.
To put it differently, as the association itself presented its reasoning, it wanted to impose on others the burdensome rules that some of its members already suffered from. In addition, the association's big restaurants likely supported the requirement as a way of getting a leg up on their medium-sized competitors - a restaurant with just 20 or 30 locations will have a harder time implementing these rules than will a huge nationwide chain. This is rent-seeking plain and simple, manipulating regulation to put competitors at a disadvantage.
Worse, it appears the 20-location threshold is so much window dressing. The NRA successfully lobbied the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to subject all members of IGA (formerly known as the Independent Grocers Alliance) to Section 4205, thus expanding government regulation to smaller grocery stores with only a few locations. The IGA represents small, independent grocers, many of which have only a few locations in a single town or city. While all IGA stores share a logo, their ready-made food, like a soup or salad bar, may be made every day as opposed to being standardized across the nation. In other words, IGA franchises are far more independent than, say, Burger King franchises.
Useless, expensive, squashes independence, hurts consumers, benefits politically-connected big business... yeah, that's got "Barack Obama" written all over it. No wonder the entrepreneurial community is terrified of what Big Government will do to them next.