Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What John Boehner did on his summer vacation

John Boehner
In a last ditch effort to scare the American public into thinking that Obamacare is the evil that will kill America as we know it, Speaker of the House, John Boehner has been very busy tweeting disparaging remarks about the Affordable Care Act law while on his summer vacation.

One of his most often repeated claims is that full time jobs are disappearing as a result of Obamacare.

The Affordable Care Act, in an effort to not financially over-burden small businesses that may not be able to afford it, originally allowed a minimum employee requirement of at least 25 full time employees before a business must provide employee healthcare.  In order to compromise with Republicans, the law was later changed to require a minimum of at least 50 full time employees before insurance coverage was required.  Full time employees are defined as workers with at least 40 hours of work per week or 2080 hours of work per year.

This requirement was intended to protect businesses that may really be endangered financially if they were forced to provide insurance to their employees.   In other words, those businesses that may be forced out of business if they had to provide health insurance and could find no other way to save costs.  The Act also attempts to protect such fragile small businesses by providing tax credits of up to 50% of the non-elective contributions the employer made on behalf of its employees.

According to Boehner, businesses which do not fit the criteria are now using these allowances to side-step providing insurance for their employees.  Boehner cites one example of a business owner of 21 (yes, that's twenty-one) Subway restaurants who decided to reduce the hours of employees so that he could use the allowance to avoid having to provide health insurance.  Another report indicates that Wal-Mart is reducing full time employees and increasing part time employees (ten times more than last year) to keep costs down.  Apparently offering insurance is going to break the bank of the wealthiest family in the retail business.  Wal-Mart employs some of the lowest paid workers in the United States and in so doing are taking advantage of taxpayers who provide supplements to Wal-Mart employees wages in such programs as supplemental nutrition, medicaid, and increased medical premiums for unpaid medical bills.

It is odd that Boehner sees this as an Obamacare caused phenomenon instead of placing the blame where it belongs, on greedy and uncaring business owners.  I was struck by the statement of the wealthy subway owner who was quoted as saying "I know the impact that I am having on some of my employees."  The article left out the remaining thought that was obviously knocking around inside the owner's head but didn't come out...the one that goes something like "but I don't care."

Now there are plenty of studies that indicate the majority of employers are not side-stepping Obamacare  by taking what most would say are unethical steps to avoid it, so this rant that Boehner is taking may just be another Republican ruse that uses fear to deceive.  Republican leadership appears adamant to fight Obamacare by any unethical means possible, just as some unethical business owners are sure to use tactics that they have always used to avoid providing benefits for their employees.

The only fault I see with the Affordable Care Act law is the fact that there was a business allowance at all.  Short of being a single payer program, it should have required all business to provide insurance and perhaps give tax breaks based on the size of the business, with smaller businesses getting more of a tax break.  The temptation was too great for dishonest business owners to use it as a loop-hole and then flaunt their arrogance by blaming the law for their unethical behavior.

So let's call it like it is Mr Speaker.  You can't blame Obamacare for the unethical actions of your constituents.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

John Boehner's August 1st press conference a precursor to expect more obstruction

John Boehner
I guess John Boehner has a weekly press conference even when there is nothing new to report.  I expected something new, but Boehner's introductory remarks and his answers to reporters seem only to be setting up America for more conflict and obstruction in Congress after the August recess.

To start the press conference he supported the efforts that Republican led committees were taking to get to the bottom of the so-called "scandals" of the Obama administration; the Benghazi incident and the IRS 501c auditing function.  Mentioning these things should tell America where John Boehner and Congressional Republican  priorities are.  And it's not with job creation, as they claim.

He blamed President Obama personally for the unacceptable pace of economic growth and indicated that the President's blockage of the Keystone pipeline prevents "tens of thousands" of American jobs.  He scolded the President for this being "no laughing matter" alluding to the President's recent speech where he claimed that the Keystone pipeline would only create about 50 jobs.  Boehner did not go into any details at all about Republican plans for real growth and jobs other than indicating that they had one.  Giving details on that plan would have been real news, if one really exists.

Boehner also blames Obama for denying that America has a spending problem and believes that there will be no prosperity until deficits and debt are under control.  He accuses President Obama of not being a leader and expects him to work with Republicans to essentially bend to their will.  (I'm paraphrasing.)

Apparently Mr. Boehner does not realize that under Obama our deficit has come down more than ever anticipated, government jobs have been reduced to the lowest levels since the President came into office and much of the social safety net spending has been cut.

What he also fails to see is that government subsidies to the wealthy, tax loopholes and favoritism for the one percent and decreased regulation around business also come under the category of government spending, but he never calls for those areas to be cut.  So Mr. Boehner, you are not really against government spending, as long as the spending goes on your party's constituents.  And you think Obama denies there is a spending problem?

Boehner says that sequestration will continue until the President cuts "reforms" (perhaps a slip of the tongue because I think he meant social programs) to allow the sequester to be replaced.

He indicated that he did not know if repealing Obama Care would be tied to debt ceiling discussions but also replied to another question by saying that appropriation bills would not be completed by September 30th.  Conveniently, this is about when deficit talks need to be finalized.  So I'm thinking Republicans are going to use either the debt ceiling or the appropriations bills as leverage to get what they want.

In an explanation to one reporter of how Congress should work Boehner said "All bills do not have to pass." and "There are more members participating in Congress than ever before."  It appears Boehner believes Congress should be all talk and no action.

Somehow, I think America expects more from its Congress.