Our Peek-a-Boo President
I know what our President was thankful for on the day before Thanksgiving.
He was thankful that in his administration, the world can be altered without regard to either the Constitution or reality. He was thankful that Congress (after fighting tooth and nail to get the original Obamacare legislation passed under the Orwellian Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or ACA title) can be ignored as he single handedly changes the carefully crafted language of the law to reflect his inability to get any part of it to actually work as advertised.
Well, he's got that ignore-the-Constitution part down pat. Given the number of times he's ignored it, or trampled on it, of tried to destroy it, he's found out that it's a lot like playing golf. The more often you do it, the easier it gets.
It's that ignoring-reality part that always seems to come back to bite him in a tender spot. The most current counterattack by reality against Obama's fantasies is going to hit him right in the delayed mandate area.
The Politico, a reliably left leaning outlet, reported the story on Wednesday in an article titled "Small business Obamacare online enrollment delayed a year".
The delay of the small business exchanges comes as little surprise, as the administration had said earlier this week it would offer alternative ways for small businesses to enroll. Still, it undercuts the White House message that it's beginning to turn around the disastrous rollout of the health care law.
The Obama administration has not delayed the requirement for small businesses with more than 50 employees to actually acquire health insurance policies that comply with the various mandates inherent in the ACA. He has only delayed (for one year) the requirement that they use the online "exchanges" to acquire it.
As if to ease the pain, the White House told small businesses that they could simply bypass signing up for Obamacare on the website but can instead, praise the Lord, do it the old fashioned way, like phone a broker, mail an inquiry to the insurer and sign up via "snail mail" or just walk in and chat with one. It seems he still thinks that buying a group health insurance policy is not very different in complexity than Michelle running to the store to buy arugula.
And exactly what does this achieve for Obama? In his mind, I'm sure, he thinks that as long as the health insurance costs for small businesses don't make headlines, he's safe and there will be no adverse election impact on Democrats in November 2014.
Enter reality, stage right. Small business, generally defined by the Small Business Administration as any entity of up to 500 employees, differs from politicians in that they tend to plan ahead and look at the risks and probable costs of what they are going to be doing in the future. Regardless of what Obama and Company think, their desires do not create reality, even if they close their eyes and wish really, really hard.
In the real world, changes in costs lead to changes in behaviors.
As an example, assume a smallish business with 200 employees which is relatively labor intensive. Costs, including payroll, payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, paid holidays, paid sick leave and paid vacations account for about 30% of the total costs of every item they produce. Company-paid medical insurance adds another 10% to that number, so the total cost of labor is actually 40% of the total costs of goods produced.
Now along comes the Affordable Care Act and health care premiums for that company's employees are quoted and management finds that the new rates for insurance that comply with Obama's mandates are going to rise 60% above their current level.
That's 60% above the 10% that the company is paying already for health insurance for their employees. The cost of labor would no longer be 40% of all costs, but 46%, and therefore total cost would rise to 106% of current levels. To stay in business, the employer would have to raise the sales price of the widget or whatever it is that they make by 6% plus their normal margin.
So the employer has to do some serious research and analysis before he can commit to this new cost. What percent of his competitors' costs are labor-related? How will the market react to a 6%-plus increase in prices? What if he invested in automation and replaced workers with machines? Could he function with fewer full time employees and more part timers?
Obama might think that delaying the onset of the website mandate will keep the adverse economic results of these analyses from being seen by the public and the media until after the 2014 elections, but if so, he is displaying the same level of logic used by a three-year old who covers his face with his hands and announces "You can't see me!"
The adverse impacts will be made public, especially those regarding planned layoffs. In addition to spreading of that bad news by word-of-mouth, many states require that employers advise both the government and the employees of potential or planned layoffs months in advance. Trying to hide that by delaying the implementation of the website is like trying to hide Mount Rushmore by throwing a doily over it.
So Obama and Company may be playing "Peek-a-Boo, You Can't See Me" but in the world of reality, we actually can see him. What a shame, Barry, you lose...but so do the rest of us.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller, a two-tour Vietnam veteran and writes frequently about political idiocy, business and economic idiocy and American cultural idiocy. Jim also blogs at http://jimyardley.wordpress.com/, and can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org