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Who’s Really Behind the “Voice of Small Business?”

small biz calculator*This article was originally published in The Hill *

How much does it cost to rebrand a fee levied on health insurers as a “HIT on small business”?

Well, $1.593 million, according to this exposé in the New York Times a few days ago.

A little background: a provision of the Affordable Care Act levies a fee on health insurance companies.  This fee helps to fund the law’s sliding scale premium assistance for individuals, as well as tax credits for small businesses to make health insurance more affordable. It’s expected to cost the insurance industry $100 billion over the first decade.

The New York Times investigation reveals that in 2012, the insurance industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) funneled $1.593 million to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) – the self-proclaimed “Voice of Small Business” – doubling down on an $850,000 dark money contribution the year before. Read more

Paid Sick Days: Good for Workers, Good for Business

Tony Sandkamp, owner of Sandkamp Woodworks in New Jersey, is a supporter of paid sick days for workers – because it makes sense for employees, and it makes sense for his company’s bottom line. Sandkamp, a Main Street Alliance leader, recently joined a panel of business leaders at the New York Regional Forum on Working Families, organized by the White House and the Department of Labor.

Part of the discussion focused on paid sick days. While many employees take it for granted that their employer will still pay them if they are forced to stay home sick a few days each year,many more workers are not given the option. If employees don’t come to work, they aren’t paid. Even scarier, if they miss work because of sickness, they risk losing their job.

“It’s ironic that I am advocating for paid sick leave, given that I think the last sick day I personally took was when I broke my leg in the third grade,” said Sandkamp. “When I worked for the airlines back in my twenties, I earned the ‘perfect attendance’ award for three consecutive years.

“But paid sick days just makes common sense – even for me and my small business,” said Sandkamp.

He has owned a custom woodworking business in Jersey City for more than 20 years. Sandkamp makes furniture and cabinets that are unique and one of kind – any mistakes can be very costly.

“A few years back, we were working on a cabinet, and the entire piece was coming from one tree, which required us to carefully match the grains of wood. It was very intricate work, and required a lot of concentration.

“One of my employees was cutting the veneers and cut them the wrong way. It was all the veneer we had left. He came into my office after he made the mistake. He had obviously been crying. He was a man who took great pride in his work,” said Sandkamp.

“What I didn’t know was that he had a fever. It was the flu season. But he came to work anyway, because he needed the pay. This man was the sole provider for his family. We started the cabinet over again, and lost a month’s work.

My business bottom line is not only about dollars – it’s about keeping my employees healthy and happy.

“For me, paid sick days is a non-issue since it will improve my employee retention,” said Sandkamp. “The cost of training that employee and replacing them is many times greater. I need people to work at their best every day. If they are sick and feel financial pressure to come into work, they are much more likely to make a mistake or potentially hurt themselves.”

The momentum is growing nationwide for economy-boosting policies like paid sick days. Laws requiring paid sick days have been passed in New York City, Newark, Jersey City, Portland, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Francisco. Small business owners across the country are getting involved at the local level to help craft and support laws that are good for small businesses, good for workers, and good for the local economy.

As we work together to build cabinets, paid sick days help build common ground, which makes my business stronger, and my employees’ lives better,” said Sandkamp.

Check out a video of the panel discussion here.

 

Will SEC order a dose of sunlight for corporate political spending?

Mary Jo White, the new Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, was recently confirmed to a five-year term that secures her position until 2019. With that kind of job security, Ms. White should be able to rise above the partisan pressures of Washington politics and advance a proactive agenda at the SEC that furthers its mission of protecting investors and promoting transparent, well-functioning markets.

But already, Chair White’s resolve is being put to the test through the debate on a proposed SEC rule that would require disclosure of public companies’ political spending. Read more

Laundering The Message

How big insurance bought and paid for the “small business” attack on Obamacare

 

Last week, the National Journal reported that in 2011, the health insurance industry lobby group AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) quietly funneled $850,000 to the NFIB – the self-proclaimed “Voice of Small Business” – as part of a campaign to repeal a key provision of Obamacare.   Read more

Tax Havens for Big Business? Small Business Owners Say ‘Not so fast’

Multi-Partisan small business owners spoke out earlier this month, further distinguishing their interests from those of Big Business.

Wednesday, in his post “Has the Budget Crisis Du Jour Got You Down?” Bill Daley pointed out that if Congress were to close one tax loophole on offshore accounts, it could be enough to create a ‘job stimulus’ program the country has not seen since the beginning of the Great Recession. Read more

Does the U.S. Chamber of Commerce speak for small business? Maine small business owner says: “No!”

Melanie Collins, a small business owner and leader with the Maine Small Business Coalition, traveled to Washington, DC on October 19 to speak at a press conference outside the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Her message was simple: “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t speak for small business, and it doesn’t speak for me.” Read more

Bogus Claims About Small Business and the Bush Tax Cuts for the Top 2 Percent

The debate about the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of income earners (with annual household income over $250,000) is heating up in Washington, DC, and with it the rhetoric about how ending these special breaks might affect small businesses.

Indeed, opponents of ending the special breaks at the top are making doomsday claims about potential negative impacts on small businesses. They’ve even funded a “study,” based on wild assumptions, to manufacture convenient figures to support their claims about possible job losses. Read more

ACA Decision: Much at Stake for Small Businesses

Millions of small business owners, and their tens of millions of employees, will be greatly impacted by tomorrow’s US Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act.  The enormous benefits that the ACA provides–expanding coverage options, lowering costs and giving consumers, not insurance companies, control over their own health care, to name a few–hang in the balance.   Read more

Does the NFIB represent small business…or big special interests?

Cross-posted from Public Campaign website.

Analysis by Public Campaign and Alliance for a Just Society

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), heralded as the “voice” of America’s small businesses, has received renewed scrutiny due to its role as the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit to throw out the Affordable Care Act, which awaits a decision from the Supreme Court on Thursday.  Read more