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This week the Supreme Court delivered one of the most consequential and highly anticipated rulings in history – it upheld President Obama’s healthcare law. In doing so, the Court – and this Administration – dealt a critical blow to free enterprise and ensured that taxes will go up for middle class working families and small businesses everywhere. This dims prospects for economic growth, while leaving in place the barriers to hiring imposed by the law, like costly, burdensome regulations and pervasive uncertainty.
I’ve always believed that President Obama’s healthcare law was and is bad politics and bad policy – mainly because the law fails to deliver what we so desperately need: true reform that will actually lower the cost of health insurance and fix a broken system.
Pursuing a drastic overhaul of our nation’s healthcare system – one-sixth of our economy – was bad politics. With over 5 million long-term unemployed, the top priority for this administration should have been getting the American people back to work. Instead, the policies coming out of Washington have been nothing more than a regulatory onslaught on small businesses, the engine of the American economy, making it more difficult and costly for them to survive.
Conventional wisdom holds that it will be extremely difficult for President Obama to win reelection with unemployment rates persisting above 8 percent. To lower that number by Election Day would require creating 200,000 jobs per month between now and then, making the president’s lack of focus on a pro-growth jobs policy all the more confusing.
But more important than the political implications, the law itself is bad policy. Through a top-down, bureaucrat-centered approach based on bigger and more intrusive government, this ill-fated attempt at reform will most adversely affect small businesses. In fact, the law is already having a profound impact on small business confidence, optimism and hiring. According to the Chamber of Commerce, 73 percent of small businesses consider Obamacare a hurdle to hiring, as healthcare costs continue to rise and many employers see their health coverage terminated.
This law is and will continue to be a massive government expansion to the detriment of private sector growth. The fact is that we simply cannot afford higher taxes, more regulations or bigger government.
American Institute for Growth believes there are patient-centered solutions that could contain costs and increase access to health insurance without discouraging economic growth. A few commonsense, modern reforms, like expanding health savings accounts, making health insurance portable or allowing health insurance to be bought across state lines, would be important steps in the right direction.
This week’s ruling was as disappointing and damaging, as it was historic. Yet the real need for reform remains. More importantly the need to free our nation’s businesses from the crippling grip of increasing government control remains with no relief in sight.