Every once in a blue moon, members of Congress actually roll up their shirtsleeves and do something positive. Last week U.S. Senators Orin Hatch (R-Utah) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) introduced legislation to repeal a portion of Obamacare. The legislation, dubbed the American Job Protection Act, attempts to repeal the job-killing employer mandate that was included in the President’s $2.6 trillion health law, which requires businesses with 50 employees or more to provide health insurance of minimum value or pay a penalty between $2,000 and $3,000 for each employee working 30 hours or more per week.
Over in the U.S. House, companion legislation was also introduced by U.S. Representatives John Barrow (D-GA, represents Appling County and the 12th District), Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA) and Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio). It is certainly reassuring to see bipartisan cooperation on legislation of such importance. Hopefully this could be a start to ending some of the gridlock in Washington.
“The employer mandate is a major barrier to job creation,” said Barrow. “Overly burdensome regulations such as this will force layoffs, halt job creation, and in some cases force businesses to close their doors. Businesses of all sizes in Georgia are already facing too many burdensome regulations from the federal government. We should be working to remove government barriers to job growth, and this legislation is a step in the right direction.”
The American Job Protection Act strikes the provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that forces employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent (FTE) employees to provide health insurance for their employees in 2014 or face a massive tax increase that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found would hit employers with $150 billion in new taxes over eleven years. The mandate is expected to lead to an estimated 3.2 million lost jobs, according to the nonpartisan Hudson Institute.
While the employer mandate does not go into effect until 2014, the requirement has already pushed many employers to keep their staffs below 50 or hire part-time workers to avoid the mandate. According to a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 72 percent of small business owners said that the health care law would make it harder for them to hire. That same study reported that many small business owners reported that, in addition to limiting hiring, the new law might force them to reduce the size of their business. For example, respondents reported considering making workers stay under  hours a week or replacing them with temporary or part-time workers. A significant number reported the likelihood of canceling insurance coverage for employees, as paying the penalty would be less expensive for their company.
The measure has garnered strong support from within the business community and has been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Federation of Independent Business, National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, National Restaurant Association, National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, International Franchise Association, National Roofing Contractors Association, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, American Council of Engineering Companies, American Hotel and Lodging Association, American Supply Association, American Wholesale Marketers Association, Associated Builders and Contractors, Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association, International Housewares Association, National Club Association, National Council of Chain Restaurants, National Tooling and Machining Association, National Utility Contractors Association, Petroleum Marketers Association of America, Precision Machined Products Association, Precision Metalforming Association, Printing Industries of America, Professional Golfers Association of America, Turfgrass Producers International and Americans for Tax Reform.
From the outset of Obamacare this newspaper has held the belief that the mandate portion of the health care legislation could be potentially devastating to our country and even though the U.S. Supreme Court ruled otherwise, this newspaper still believes that the mandate is unconstitutional. Thank you Congressman Barrow for at least attempting to correct this aspect of the controversial law. It will be interesting to see how other members of Congress vote on this important legislation, and if it passes, how President Obama reacts.
(Editor’s note: Portions of this article were taken from a press release issued by the 113th Congress.)