Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why the Uncertainty in ObamaCare is Bad for our Economy

This week marks the anniversary of the passing of ObamaCare, and next week the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments about it and might decide to repeal the bill. As a small business owner I can explain how the bill is hurting the economy.

Let's look at the big picture. Profits are up throughout the economy, however employment and the GDP are lagging, to say the least. US corporations are sitting on record amounts of cash, but they're not expanding and they're not hiring. Wondering why? It's because of the uncertainty. Nobody knows what new regulations and mandates are coming in the next years, or even months. Businesses are looking at 2-3 years forecasts before making any significant decision, and uncertainty about Government intervention is incredibly high. If a businesses decides to grow, of course it needs to hire more people, but does anyone know what new workplace regulations are to be expected? What new taxes or mandates are coming?

And the biggest unknown of all is ObamaCare, which will massively affect everyone once it starts being implemented in 2014. Speaker Nancy Pelosi told us we have to pass the bill so we know what's in it. Two years have passed and we still don't know what's in it. The language is so twisted that noone can figure it out. One example in recent weeks is the debate over contraception. The media diverted the attention and made it all about abortion rights, religion and the new meme, "women's health". The issue has nothing to do with any of these. It's not about "access to health care", since there's currently no restriction on buying birth control pills, and you can even get them for free from Planned Parenthood. It's all about the Government mandating businesses and taxpayers to pay for someone's birth control pills. New regulations just found in ObamaCare say that contraception pills should be provided for free. But nothing is actually free. If you have insurance from your employer, the employer pays for it (or more precisely, the employees who don't need it pay, since health insurance costs are built into the total compensation package). If you get insured through some Government program or subsidy, the taxpayers are forced to pay for it. (And by "taxpayers" I mean the 50.5% of the population that, according to IRS, pays federal taxes; I assume that if you really can't afford $20/month for birth control pills, then you fall into the other 49.5%).

So we saw what a scandal this minor problem created. If birth control is considered an essential women's health issue (by the way, when was pregnancy classified as a disease?), then a Government agency deciding that food is very important for your health is not that far fetched. Can anyone be sure that, through ObamaCare, companies won't be mandated to pay for their employees' nutrition? Or to offer an allowance for heating costs, since I'm sure it's easy to conclude that extreme cold and freezing is a serious health issue?

It's easy to see why businesses are reluctant to hire people, even though they have the resources. And for small businesses, which make up an overwhelming percentage of our economy, it's even riskier. Big businesses can afford layoffs, but for a small business, the increase in unemployment insurance costs after new crippling mandates force a few layoffs can be devastating. For most business owners like myself, it's much safer to just hang on and try to survive. And hope for a smart and Constitutional decision from the Supreme Court in the following weeks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Priorities in New Jersey

NJ voters priorities according to a Feb 7 MU poll:
1. Reducing property taxes
2. Reducing income taxes
3. Increasing minimum wage
4. Reforming teacher tenure
5. Raising millionaires tax
6. Reforming drug sentencing laws
7. Restructuring higher education
8. Expanding charter schools
9. Gay marriage

NJ Democratic Legislature priorities in 2012:
1. Gay marriage