Morning Action: Obamacare Causes Small Business Confidence to Plunge

SMALL BUSINESS & OBAMACARE.  Individuals losing their health care plans because of Obamacare regulations are in the spotlight lately, as they should be.  However, the grim picture doesn’t stop there.  Small business confidence continues to decline because of uncertainty created by the Affordable Care Act:

BMO Private Bank’s Jack Ablin in a client note: “Blame Obamacare or blame the government shutdown.  Either way, small business sentiment plunged last month … Confidence among business owners has slipped for two consecutive months to its lowest level since March.  Small company leaders are concerned about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on their businesses. 

“In a separate survey conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the International Franchise Association and cited by the Wall Street Journal, 64 percent of small business franchise owners believe the law will have a ‘negative impact’ on their operations.  Just 5 percent felt it would have a positive impact …  Twenty-seven percent of franchisees surveyed have replaced full-time workers with part-time workers.

CONSERVATIVE EFFORTS.  The conservative effort to defund Obamacare will not be forgotten, explains former Heritage Foundation President Ed Feulner, nor will we stop fighting to stop this failed law:

Conservatives who sought to defund this law can take pride in taking a stand that is looking better and better with each passing day—one that will not be forgotten. Progressives who shut down the government because they would not compromise are, on the other hand, looking over their shoulders and taking arrows, even from the left.

This is why the President’s approval ratings are at an all-time low, according to an impartial Quinnipiac poll released this week. It said that only 36 percent approve of the President’s job on health care; 38 percent on foreign policy; 32 percent on the economy; and 35 percent on immigration. By a margin of 52 percent to 44 percent, Americans say their President is a dishonest man.

Obamacare is an unmitigated disaster for our country. This is why it would have been better to defund it before it took the toll that it is already taking on so many American citizens.

The Heritage Foundation and its sister organization Heritage Action took the lead this fall in bringing these truths home to Americans, and I’m so proud of them.

DECLINING APPROVAL.  It comes as no surprise that Obamacare’s approval is on the decline:

Americans’ views of the 2010 healthcare law have worsened in recent weeks, with 40% approving and 55% disapproving of it. For most of the past year, Americans have been divided on the law, usually tilting slightly toward disapproval. The now 15-percentage-point gap between disapproval and approval is the largest Gallup has measured in the past year.

CRUZ.  Sen. Cruz continues to call for the full repeal of Obamacare:

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz previewed a new plan to repeal Obamacare and replace it with different health care reforms.

“The only way to stop the problems is to admit this idea was fundamentally flawed to begin with,” Cruz told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly. “At this point, starting over, stopping Obamacare, is the essence of pragmatism.”

Cruz’s approach differs from some congressional Republicans and Democrats who are working to pass a bill delaying the Obamacare individual mandate or help Americans keep their current health care plans.

Cruz said that he would release a bill to empower Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines, creating a “true national market.” Insurance can only be purchased intra-state at present.

TAX REFORM.  The momentum for tax reform this year has slowed as other issues take center stage:

Timing, support and momentum are never guaranteed in Congress, a reality chief Republican tax writer Dave Camp has for the first time started to acknowledge.

Circumstances have the House Ways and Means Committee chairman easing away on Wednesday from his pledge to mark up tax reform legislation this year — something he has been publicly promising for a year.

“I’d still like to do that,” the Michigan Republican told reporters after nearly three hours of discussions with Republicans on his committee. “I very much have wanted to stick to that, certainly to have the bill ready and be able to move forward this year if we can.”

FARM BILL.  A Roll Call commentary writer makes the pitch for the connection of crop insurance and conservation compliance in the farm bill:

With conservation compliance, farmers apply basic conservation practices to attend to the needs of the soil and wetlands in exchange for federal assistance. As a result, soil is protected from erosion, important wetlands are preserved, and taxpayers’ investments are protected through the combination of sound agricultural and conservation policy.

It’s undeniable that the farm safety net is shifting away from direct subsidies toward a risk-based system in which federal crop insurance is the base. With the removal of direct payments from the farm safety net and associated conservation measures, we risk taking a large step backward from the progress made in protecting our nation’s fragile soils and wetlands.

Heritage explains that the two should not be connected because doing so disrespects the property rights of farmers:

Crop insurance can also create perverse incentives that might alter how farmers use their land. When taxpayers, not farmers, bear much of the risk, farmers could make environmentally unfriendly decisions regarding their properties that they would otherwise not make. In 2000, taxpayers subsidized 37 percent of the premium subsidies that farmers received under the crop insurance program. In 2011, that number was 62 percent.

The problem, though, is with crop insurance and its negative effects, not with farmers and the use of their property. Congress should not try to solve bad policy by creating another bad policy, especially one that harms property rights. The federal government should reform crop insurance and should not interfere with property rights and land use decisions to address some possible harms that federal policy may have encouraged in the first place.

FANNIE AND FREDDIE.  An investor group has proposed a plan to take over much of the mortgage finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; it is said the plan is likely to “spur intense debte”:

A group of hedge funds and private equity companies is preparing a proposal to take over large parts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, in an attempt to end a bitter dispute with the Treasury, which has controlled the US housing finance agencies for five years.

The plan is being pitched as a way to bring tens of billions of dollars of private capital into the US mortgage market and to speed housing finance reforms that remain bogged down in Congress.

The investor group includes holders of more than half the $34.6 billion of preferred shares in Fannie and Freddie, who have been fighting to restore some value to the shares after the terms of the government conservatorship rendered them worthless.

The Heritage Foundation explains Fannie and Freddie have cost the federal taxpayer billions of dollars, and suggests that Congress shut down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as soon as possible “because they are key part of a failed housing policy.”

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