Harry Reid, ObamaCare and Union Payoffs: Crushing Small Contractors

by Crocker on December 22, 2009, 8:40 am

in Economics,Health Care,Politics

By now, any sentient being understands that ObamaCare – whether in its House or Senate incarnation – is not about health care at all. As both Ed Morrissey and Michelle Malkin have ably demonstrated, it’s really about control and the political power to reward friends and punish enemies.

Take a good look at Harry Reid’s “managers amendment” to the Senate bill. Over the weekend, King Harry pulled a switcheroo, adding to and deleting from the Senate version under his prerogative as “manager” of the bill. The revision – which reportedly grew to nearly 3,000 pages – was made available only a few hours before the cloture vote.

For a glimpse of the political spoils system in action – the future of your health care, by the way – take a good look at this: bowing to union pressure to run smaller, non-union contractors out of business, King Harry scaled back the “small business exemption” to the employer coverage mandate from businesses with 50 or more employees to 5 or more. This change applies only to the construction industry.

This is guaranteed to crush small contractors struggling to make payroll in a down economy – which is precisely what the unions want. From a letter of protest to all members of the Senate from trade associations in the construction industry:

This narrowly focused provision is an unprecedented assault on our industry, and the men and women who every day make the bold decision to strike out on their own by starting a business. Our members’ benefit packages reflect the reality of their business models, and they proudly offer the best health insurance coverage that they can afford. It is unreasonable to presume that small business owners can bear the increased cost of these new benefits simply because Congress mandates that they do so.

In the real world, where the rhetoric surrounding this legislation will meet the stark reality of the employer struggling to make payroll, this special interest carve out is simply another bill to pay in an industry that, with an unemployment rate exceeding 18% and more than $200 billion in economic activity lost in the past year, already is struggling to survive.

And, we would be remiss if we failed to question the justification for singling out the construction industry to bear such a burden. We are unaware of any data or evidence that suggests that the needs and struggles of a construction contractor with fewer than 50 employees are so different from those of small business owners in other industries, and absent such convincing evidence, we are left to assume that this specific provision is merely a political payoff to satisfy the desires of a small constituency.

This small example only hints at a larger problem with government-run systems: budgeting and allocation of resources. Remember, when the government runs the works, the rules vary depending on location and economic sector. Your health care becomes just another political football – mixed up with ongoing political grudges and grievances of the most unsavory sort.

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