Health law is bad medicine for small business

Another week, another new White House public relations offensive. 

The White House is now attempting to convince American businesses the administration is actually on their side.

Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel recently encouraged businesses to “look at policies where we’ve been supportive.”

Unfortunately, American business owners and employees in the current economy don’t have time to look for a needle in the haystack.  They are too busy trying to deal with the blizzard of bad policies the administration has already put into place.

The president’s new healthcare law tops the list of the administration’s anti-business actions.

It will raise taxes, kill jobs and force a majority of Americans to change their current healthcare coverage. 

The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the new law will result in $500 billion in tax increases. 

Immediately after the law was passed, companies across the country reported the law will drastically increase their expenses. 

AT&T Inc. announced it would book $1 billion in first-quarter costs because of the new bill and would also consider changing the health benefits it offers to employees. 

Valero Energy Corp said it expects the new law to result in a $15 million to $20 million charge to earnings in the first quarter. It also said it anticipated even more tax increases in the future.  

3M Co. announced it would record a one-time non-cash charge of up to $90 million, or 12 cents a share, in the first quarter as a result of the president’s healthcare law.

Americans understand that when business expenses increase, wages and employment opportunities decrease. As unemployment continues to hover around 10 percent, the White House should recognize this, too.  

Instead of delivering real tax relief, the administration continues to roll out gimmicks that fail to make it easier for companies to hire new employees and provide health coverage. For example, President Obama said 4 million small businesses received a post card that said they would be eligible for a healthcare tax cut this year. 

The mailing explained firms with less than 25 full-time employees averaging less than $50,000 per year in wages could receive a 35 percent tax credit. 

While these tax cuts look great on paper, small business owners across the country are disappointed when they read the fine print.  One small business owner in the president’s home state discovered the postcard was literally too good to be true.  

Charles Arp, who manages Penny Printing Company in Sterling, Illinois, received a post card and believed his company would be eligible for the tax credit.  After all, he employs 17 full-time employees averaging slightly more than $42,000 per year.

However, he discovered that he would either have to fire employees, cut their salaries or split his company in two to qualify for the law’s tax credit.

This isn’t the help American businesses and employees need.

Last week, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and I authored a report entitled “Bad Medicine.” The report explains how the new law will impact Americans and American businesses. We highlight how the president’s new law breaks his promise that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it. 

Specifically, the administration recently published a regulation regarding grandfathered health plans — plans that are exempt from the changes under the law. According to the published regulation, as many as seven out of every 10 businesses across the country will lose their grandfathered health plan.  

This means about half of the more than 150 million Americans enrolled in employer plans will lose their current plan and either remain without employer coverage, or see the cost of that employer-provided coverage increase due to government mandates and regulation. 

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American companies and small businesses aren’t asking for handouts or bailouts. They simply want Washington to get out of their way so that they can grow their businesses and hire new employees.   

If the president and Democrats in Congress genuinely want to help American businesses and their employees, they’ll repeal the new healthcare law and replace it with a plan that delivers care, coverage and certainty.    

Sen. Barrasso is an orthopedic surgeon and only one of two doctors in the United States Senate.