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Washington Watch - July 13, 2011


NASE On MSNBC Talking Small Business Optimism

NASE President and CEO, Kristie Arslan, appeared on MSNBC's Your Business to discuss micro-business owners' lack of optimism about the current economic climate. Find out what policymakers have to do with it, below.

Click here to watch the video clip.


NASE Participates In Small Biz Forum On Health Care

NASE Senior Health Policy Advisor Mike Beene said that the Affordable Care Act will cause ninety-five percent of the small business population to purchase such health coverage. Most importantly, he said, these businesses will not receive any financial assistance to help them pay for this mandated coverage. The costs of implementing these changes could discourage business growth including expansion and hiring, according to a study by the Coalition for Affordable Health Coverage (of which the NASE is a part).

Joel White, Executive Director of CAHC, remarked that “absent cost reduction strategies, if employees respond to the new federal mandate to purchase insurance by enrolling in their employer health plans, many workers will be too expensive to hire or retain. If employers respond by terminating or significantly curtailing those health plans, then federal spending projections could be low by a trillion dollars.” 

A 2008 NASE study showed that only 18 percent of micro-businesses are currently providing health coverage for their workers, a significant decline from 46% in 2005.  The key contributor to the drop in employer-based coverage in this micro-employer market was cost.  This issue will be exacerbated with the new essential health benefits requirements, minimal cost relief and mandates in the health reform law.

“Many of the self-employed fall just short of qualifying standards for subsidies and tax credits in the health reform law,” commented Beene. “They make too much to qualify for premium assistance but too little to afford the comprehensive coverage they will be required by law to buy.”

For example, the Small Business Health Tax Credit excludes the self-employed, defined as a one-person business. The self-employed can qualify for premium subsidies for individuals and families once they take effect in 2014. To qualify, an individual must make below $43,340 and a family of four must have a household income below $88,200. The average household income for an NASE self-employed member is $62,500 for self and spouse which pushes them out of qualifying range for premium assistance. 

To learn more, visit NASE’s SelfMade blog.


Debt Ceiling Update

In the latest debt limit talks between President Obama and key congressional Democrats and Republicans continue to stall. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) introduced his back-up plan yesterday, which would give President Obama the authority to raise the debt ceiling.

Read more about the process by visiting the page of the Senate Majority Leader (Harry Reid, D-NV) or Speaker of the House (John Boehner, R-Ohio).


Republicans Support Bill To Reform Small-Business Regulation

On Thursday, July 7, the House Committee on the Judiciary approved H.R. 527, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 2011, in a 18-8 vote. No Democrats supported the proposal.

The legislation is aimed at ensuring federal agencies are complying with a law that requires they are flexible in taking regulatory action against small businesses. To do this, the bill would give the Small Business Administration (SBA) new rule-making authority and direct the head of the SBA’s Office of Advocacy to issue rules “governing agency compliance” within 270 days of enactment. Furthermore, the Office of Advocacy would be given new authority to intervene in agency rulemaking to ensure compliance.  

Democrats argued that the bill goes too far in lifting regulations, and said that over-regulation is not the cause of unemployment. Republicans contended that the cost of regulatory compliance is disproportionately higher for small businesses.

“Jobs are the key to economic recovery, and small businesses – not government regulatory agencies – are the job creators in America,” bill sponsor and panel Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), said.

The NASE has been highly supported of the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 2011, as it will allow small business representatives to become more active in the creation of rules and regulations facing the industry. The NASE has written about the bill in previous editions of Washington Watch. It is unfortunate that similar bill introduced by Olympia Snowe (R-ME) in the Senate failed to pass in a disappointing 53-46 vote. 60 votes were needed to pass.


Washington Watch Online

Visit NASE Advocacy to view archived editions of Washington Watch. While you’re there, read the latest updates from the Washington, D.C. office, write your Congressperson, and find out how you can join the fight for micro-business.

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