Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: West Texas
The Heavy Burden of ObamaCare
The Heavy Burden of ObamaCare
"Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one." --Thomas Paine
Now that the reality of Barack Obama's re-election is settling in, the U.S. economy is shifting and making the necessary adjustments to brace for four more agonizing years of Hope 'n' Change™. In the last 10 days, we've seen news of the fallout in everything from the stock market plummeting to jobless claims skyrocketing and the poverty rate spiking. Thanks to Obama's assault on job creators, the list of businesses announcing layoffs, cuts and closings is growing daily. But not to worry: Obama says the "private sector is doing fine."
There are two policies that bear primary blame: ObamaCare and the fiscal cliff. Markets and business owners are struggling to prepare for these two gut punches. With the fiscal cliff, of course, higher taxes could cripple particularly small businesses' ability to hire or expand. But ObamaCare is doing much the same thing in a way that will only worsen as the tentacles of regulation extend ever further.
There are many more mandates in the law besides the infamous individual mandate to buy health insurance. For example, businesses of 50 or more employees face the potentially crushing burden of providing full, approved benefits to employees that work more than 30 hours -- considered "full-time" employees per the decree of the new law -- or fines of $2,000 per employee if they don't comply. The response is entirely predictable: Businesses avoid hiring that 50th employee, they reduce hours for their current employees or they pay the penalty, which is often cheaper than insurance, though it leaves employees on government exchanges.
Darden Restaurants, the chain that owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Longhorn Steakhouse and others, falls into the latter category. The chain announced in October that it would begin limiting employee hours in some markets. McDonald's, White Castle and Denny's, among others, are looking to do likewise. Both Darden and McDonald's were recipients of ObamaCare waivers two years ago. So much for that. John Schnatter, CEO of Papa John's, estimates that ObamaCare will cost the company between $5 million to $8 million annually, translating to reduced employee hours and higher prices.
These businesses are between the proverbial rock and a hard place. ObamaCare will cost them a fortune, but cutting employee hours and benefits and raising prices to account for it leaves them serving as the lightning rod -- by design. On top of that, businesses could very well face retribution from the White House. Washington, DC, employment law attorney Robert B. Fitzpatrick said as much when he noted that if businesses are "just playing with the numbers, playing with the hours to try to avoid compliance ... there are going to be consequences." By "consequences," of course, Fitzpatrick means lawsuits -- just one more way that ObamaCare was a huge bone thrown to trial lawyers.
Meanwhile, states must setup federally mandated insurance exchanges by Dec. 14, a deadline pushed back twice already. Republican governors stalled on implementation, hoping that Obama would be defeated and his abomination of a law could be repealed.
Leftists say that because the states are the ones doing the work, this is a great example of federalism, right? Wrong. The federal government has no constitutional authority to dictate to states what they must do. Many states are taking this position and refusing to set up the exchanges. Important decisions will be dictated from Washington anyway, so why provide them cover as faux deputies? This peaceful revolt of sorts could help ObamaCare collapse under its own weight, and, though that won't be pretty, it may provide leverage for undoing the law.
Obama's campaign slogan was Forward, borrowed from his Marxist predecessors in Europe. The American people were Forewarned, but 60 million voters still bought his snake oil, and now many individuals, families and businesses will pay a high price for that decision. Yet those of us who cherish Liberty and Rule of Law must not give up.