MINOT, NORTH DAKOTA — Much is being said in the health
care debate. Most of it is pure political gamesmanship that, if passed,
would bleed American small businesses into a state of financial anemia.
If the proposed legislation passed by the House and now before the
Senate becomes law, we can expect that small business growth and vitality
will stop dead in its tracks; millions more people will experience
layoffs, and the unemployment rolls will exceed those of the Great
Depression — and remain there indefinitely.
Is this claim simple fear mongering? Hardly. Those committed to imposing
top-down health care on all Americans ignore the economic impacts —
to say nothing of the implications of placing our health in the hands
of a bureaucracy that has proven it cannot successfully operate any
Elected officials demonstrate little understanding of the laws of
economics, or they chose to ignore those laws. Senator Kent Conrad,
Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, tells us we must get our
financial house in order. He is correct, yet he voted for a health
care bill that would break the back of small business — the engine
of economic prosperity. He has actively participated in creating the
dire economic situation in which we find ourselves. Conrad’s
rhetoric and actions perfectly illustrate the adage, “Watch what
they do, not what they say.”
The consequences of America’s financial mess are being felt.
The irresponsible spending spree of the last 40 years unfortunately
was not obvious to the American public. Debt accumulation instead of
increased taxation hid the truth of what elected representatives were
doing. Twelve trillion dollars of debt is simply deferred taxes, taxes
whose interest alone will reach almost $1 trillion a year by 2019.
Congress continues to drag us to bankruptcy. National bankruptcy is
just as real as personal and business bankruptcies. The debt is due,
and high and growing unemployment are the first painful realities of
Instead of doing what every bankrupt citizen must do — tighten belts,
stop spending, and go on a fiscal diet — Congress is doing the opposite.
It has gone on a debt-funded spending spree. In the last year, we have
spent $700 billion to bailout the financial industry, $787 billion
in wasteful “stimulus” pork, and now we hear plans to impose
a $1 trillion bill on the backs of small business through an ill-conceived
health care bill. All of these actions defy the laws of economics.
The health care proposal will literally be the “straw that
breaks the camel’s back.” As a small businessman, I operate
retirement/assisted living facilities. Our business employs fewer than
100 people. The health care bill passed by the House would more than
double our mandated health care costs, increasing them by $346,523.40
annually. The Senate bill would do virtually the same thing. This increase
mirrors the bulk of our annual profit. Further, the financial market
crash has denied us access to credit to grow our business. We cannot
currently build new facilities, hire staff, or offer additional housing
options to a growing elderly population.
If either “health care” bill becomes law, we will be forced
to lay off workers and reduce services, increase rents, or both. The
former will increase unemployment. The latter will force many of our
residents out or severely stretch their retirement funds — funds already
hit by the financial meltdown brought about by an irresponsible financial
industry that these same taxpayers have since bailed out.
The President’s Chief Economic Advisor, Dr. Christina Romer,
in her report, The Economic Effects of Health
Care Reform on Small Businesses and their Employees, said, “Health care reform as
envisioned in current draft legislation would reduce the current burdens
on small firms and their workers.” As I read the report, I fully
understood how Alice felt in Wonderland. There is a total disconnect
among Congress, the President’s Council of Economic Advisors,
and economic reality.
Health care proposals will increase unemployment. While neither bill
would become effective for several years, the consequences will be
felt immediately. Unlike government, businessmen plan for and anticipate
the future and take steps to prepare for what they know will be coming.
Acknowledged unemployment is 10.2 percent. When we add those who
have exhausted benefits or have given up looking for jobs, and factor
in those working less than 40 hours per week, the rate jumps to more
than 20 percent.
Either proposed health care bill will put small business on life
support, crippling the economy and driving up unemployment. In short,
Congress is about to put small business — and our entire economy —
in intensive care.
A Voice from Fly-Over
A Voice from Fly-Over Country is copyright © 2009 by Robert
L. Hale and the Fitzgerald Griffin
All rights reserved.
Robert L. Hale received his J.D. in law from Gonzaga University Law
School in Spokane, Washington. He is founder and director of a non-profit
public interest law firm. For more than three decades he has been involved
in drafting proposed laws and counseling elected officials in ways
to remove burdensome and unnecessary rules and regulations.
See a complete biographical sketch.
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