Here in Missouri, we’ve sent a group of GOPers to Washington who all have in common the fact that they demonstrate considerable spleen when it comes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Billy Long (R-7th), for example, has bizarrely characterized the ACA as a “purely socialist single-payer healthcare system unlike anything the nation has ever experienced before.” Nor is Billy alone. Next Tuesday it is probably safe to assume that all of our Missouri GOP House members will stand with the rest of their party and vote to repeal the “job-killing” ACA.
Of course this vote amounts to nothing more than political theater, meant to assuage the GOP Tea Party foot soldiers. The bill will go nowhere in the Senate and, if by some fluke it did, it’s a sure bet that the President would veto it. Nevertheless, no matter what else you may think of them, Grand Old Partiers are no fools; they can see as well as anyone else that the anti-Obamacare ruckus they ignited could get out of hand if they don’t follow-up on the fire-and-brimstone they served up to susceptible Tea Partiers. They may soon, however, find themselves between a rock and hard place when it comes time to take credit for this sad piece of performance art.
It’s that “job-killing” part, particularly as it pertains to small businesses, that could trip them up. GOP pols and fellow-traveling lobbyists have been loudly proclaiming that the ACA will be poison for small businesses. Just do a search on “small business” and “Obamacare” and you’ll encounter a plethora of articles replete with doomsday predictions. Roy Blunt actually promised to repeal the ACA as one of the lynch pins of his putative jobs-plan during his Senate campaign last fall. Ultimately, though, the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.
Which is why it is interesting to note that small businesses are rushing to take advantage of the provisions of the ACA. The Los Angeles Times reports that:
Major insurers around the country are reporting that a growing number of small businesses are signing up to give their workers health benefits, a sign of potential progress for the nation’s battered healthcare system. …
An important selling point has been a tax credit that the nation’s new healthcare law provides to companies with fewer than 25 employees and moderate-to-low pay scales to help offset the cost of providing benefits. The tax credit is one of the first few provisions to kick in; much of the law rolls out over the next few years
To take an example close to home, Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Kansas City, Mo. reports a 58% increase in small businesses buying insurance for their employees. Thirty-eight percent of those businesses had never offered their workers insurance before. As for those mandates and reporting requirements that many deplore, Rick Ungar of Forbes’ The Policy Page nails it:
If these small businesses found the new law to be so onerous, why have so many of them voluntarily taken advantage of the benefits provided in the law to give their employees these benefits? They were not mandated to do so. And to the extent that the coming mandate obligations might figure into their thinking, would you not imagine they would wait until 2014 to make a move as the rules do not go into effect until that time?
Nor, with apologies to Billy Long, is the ACA proving to be especially “socialistic.” Actually, the folks who might be contributing most to an anti-business climate may be the Republicans with their constant posturing on the topic of the ACA. As Ezra Klein puts it:
… the health-care industry is having to balance investments that it wants to make against the concern that Republicans will repeal the bill and yank away those opportunities. Before the election, John Boehner said employers “are afraid to invest and hire in an economy stalled by ‘stimulus’ spending and hamstrung by uncertainty.” Now he’s the guy stringing the hams
I wouldn’t be too surprised, as long as Democrats play their cards right, if next Tuesday might be remembered as the day when the GOP tried to effect the job-killing repeal of the Health Care Act, rather than a vote to repeal the job-killing health care act.
MORE: Steve Benen has a similar take on the Republican ACA repeal effort. Interesting quotes he includes:
As Kevin Drum noted a couple of weeks ago, “[I]t really is possible that both the healthcare sector and the business community in general, after they take a look at what kind of chaos might ensue from ad hoc partial defunding, will put some real pressure on Republicans to stand down on this. That would be an interesting turn of events, no?”
The WSJ report added, “Talking about repeal of the health law may be a winning political strategy for Republicans, a rare way to please both workers and business executives. As long as they don’t actually succeed in doing it.”