In my first Newsletter Web Log for 2010, I reported the following relating to the Senate’s year-end surprise for smaller construction firms:
In case you thought the there was not much more your government could do to you in 2009, without debate or advance notice, the Senate added a last-minute amendment to its health care legislation that saddles small construction firms with a harsher burden than it imposed on any other industry. While elsewhere the majority of employers with fewer than 50 workers that do not offer health coverage are exempt from fines that apply to larger employers, under this union-instigated provision construction firms employing as few as five workers would be subject to health care coverage fines.
Now, as a last-ditch effort to remove impediments to the Health Care bill’s passage, the Merkley Amendment was struck by the House reconciliation bill, so at least one onerous provision has hit the cutting room floor…though there’s always the possibility it will resurface as a rider to another bill.
Now, of course, the health care reform bill has passed despite the undisputed fact that there are few who fully understand its ramifications, or for that matter, who benefits.
I could haul out my treasured dictionary of invectives and let fly, but to be honest, I could not do a better job of summing up the situation than presenting Monday’s statement from the Associated Builders and Contractors President and CEO Kirk Pickerel:
“While many are calling this bill ‘historic,’ the only thing historic about the health care reform bill is the record level of new taxes and federal government mandates placed on America’s construction industry.
“Not only does this legislation ignore the clear objections of the majority of Americans, but is fails to bend down the cost curve and increases the tax burden on businesses, particularly construction contractors, at a time of record high unemployment.
“Twenty-seven percent of the construction industry is currently unemployed, and it is truly unconscionable that our elected leaders think that now is the appropriate time for broad new government mandates and infringements on American businesses and a half trillion dollars in new taxes.
“To truly reform the health care system, Congress must explore every means available to help reduce the cost to the American public, including medical malpractice tort reform and the inclusion of Small Business Health Plans to allow workers in small businesses and the self-employed to join together to obtain the same economies of scale, purchasing clout, and administrative efficiencies from which employees of large employers and union-sponsored plans currently benefit.
“The choice of 219 House members to ignore the will of the American people last night will have consequences for many of them this November at the polls,” said Pickerel.
Well there’s always a chance that the White House will decide that what the legislation really needs is hospice care rather than a signature, but I suspect that remedy is reserved for us.