Thursday, July 23, 2009

ObamaCare and Small Business

Yesterday we were given an opportunity by Lou Young of WCBS TV to comment on the president's health care plan; and our position remains, that the plan will severely damage the already reeling small business sector because, as we said, there is no cost containment that will insulate small firms from additional-and expensive-mandates. The current plans simply make matters worse.

With record job losses piling up every month, and with no clear idea on just how the 40 million or more folks who are currently uninsured are going to get covered-and who will be forced to pay for their coverage-it is not the best time for the federal government to be engaged in a complex overhaul of 17% of the American economy. And, as we pointed out to Lou Young, we're currently experiencing record bankruptcies and foreclosures in the NYC small business sector, and any additional burdens-no matter how well intentioned-will further cripple an already hobbled economic sector.

This basic point was brought home by Lloyd Williams of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce. Appearing with Domenic Carter on The Road to City hall on NY1, Mr. Williams described a bleak small business landscape above 96th Street-with a 37% store vacancy rate in some neighborhood shopping strips. This was brought home by another NY1's story: "One shuttered store after another along 125th Street means only one thing: Harlem is being hit hard by the recession. Many businesses have packed up for good, others moved to more viable locations. While there are stores still open for business, those merchants say things are very slow."

So clearly, this isn't the time to increase the burdens on small store owners. And when the president says, as he did in his press conference last night, that 14,000 people lose their health insurance every day, what he failed to mention was that these are predominately people who have lost their jobs-and the health benefits went away with it. The current health plan will lead to even further job loss, making the country's economic recovery that much more problematic-and small business owners will be especially hard hit.

The fact that the country's health care system needs to be reformed, doesn't mean that we should be forced to endorse plans that may make a bad situation worse. The current ones being bandied about in Washington are bad for small business, bad for the overall economy; but, worst of all, exacerbate the systemic problems of health care delivery in this country. In this case, doing nothing is actually preferable.