The Chicago Tribune had an editorial Monday, “To fix Obamacare, start here,” putting forth “[t]he case for removing the employer mandate.” But it wasn’t the question of whether or not to eliminate the employer mandate that caught my attention. Rather, it was all of the confusion and uncertainty that has revolved, and continues to revolve, around the mandate for employers. Consider:
- Last year the mandate was temporarily suspended for some employers for one year. For employers with 100 or more employees, it now kicks in next year. For those with between 50 and 99 employees, it’s not until 2016 – unless it gets delayed yet again.
- Businesses are trying to figure out if it’s better to provide coverage or pay penalties or keep the company small enough (and/or workers’ hours short enough) so that the law doesn’t apply.
As the Tribune said: “The ever-shifting rules and delays have left employers guessing.”
It was with that (and a lot of other rules being proposed by the Obama administration) in mind that I read the comments made by Bill English, New Zealand Finance Minister, after the government there proposed its budget for the next year:
“Governments need to create an environment of stability and good incentives for [businesses] to grow the economy. Businesses need confidence the rules will not shift and the Government is not one of the risks they have to manage.”
The concept is so obvious, and yet so far from the way things are in Washington (or in Springfield, for those who unfortunately live in Illinois), that it is stunning.
“Government should not be a risk business has to manage.” Yes, right. But that’s not the way it is. Laws are being passed. Regulations are being issued. There is always some new requirement, and its often unclear what it says or means. Maybe this is one of the reasons the recovery is so slow. Maybe it’s not the Fed; maybe it’s the government. Maybe we need a government that is not a “risk” that “has to be managed.” For any of us.