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Atlanta Business Journal - Graves: Survival of "Obama Care' Means Death for Small Businesses

Op-Ed

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By Representative Tom Graves

America is a country built on the virtues of freedom, self-reliance, and independence. We Americans generally don't like being told what to do. We don't like being told how to spend our money. And, we certainly don't like the federal government poking its nose into our affairs. Today, the Supreme Court decided not to tell the federal government to butt out of our business.
The high court's decision to uphold "Obama Care' is a sad and loud warning that the principles of freedom and civil liberties have been temporarily forgotten in this age when strong liberal winds keep blowing our collective sails to the left. And, business owners across the nation will now batten down the hatches and prepare for the very difficult decisions looming on the horizon.

Both of us are entrepreneurs. We cut our teeth on building businesses from scratch, nurturing them, and watching them grow. And while one of us has temporarily hung up his entrepreneur card in order to serve Georgians in Washington, the other is very much still at the epicenter of what's happening to the millions of men and women who start businesses, create jobs, and make payroll across this great nation.

Without a shadow of a doubt, both of us believe that with the Supreme Court decision not to strike down Obama Care, the future for America's jobs creators, and by extension, the economy, looks ugly. Plain and simple, Obama Care penalizes small business owners.

Under Obama Care, small business owners will be forced to shell out millions of dollars to expand health insurance for their workers -- or pay a stiff tax to the federal government. Though paying the tax may be cheaper than expanding coverage, the dent in the bottom line will mean Ed, and other small business owners across the country, will have to slash payroll to stay in business. Ed currently has about 200 workers. The Supreme Court's ruling means he may have to lay off more than 100 of them. Millions of jobs across the county eventually will be lost. Unemployment, which is still sticking stubbornly above 8%, will soon spike. Our "great recession" very well could become another full-blown depression.

Many business owners will probably seriously considered doing what Ed plans to do, and sell -- sell their businesses as fast as they can. Businesses exist to make a profit. When the opportunity for profit disappears, so do the job creators. It's really that simple.

Small businesses are America's economic lifeblood. The Small Business Administration reports that these companies employ nearly 60 million Americans, or about half of all private-sector workers in the United States. Small businesses account for as much as 80 percent of all net new jobs in this country. Kill small businesses, and you kill the economy. Any future reforms to the health care system cannot be made at the expense of America's job creators.

This fight isn't over. We believe that now, it's time for the real work to begin. Republicans in Congress will firmly commit to repealing the entire Obama Care law. Once we've reached that objective, the conversation about how to reform our health care system can begin. We both believe we need health care reform, but reform needs to be patient-centered, patient-driven, and market-oriented. We've got to focus on lowering costs. We've got to let businesses in America stay competitive. The beauty of our great nation is that every citizen can pursue his or her dream. It's our responsibility to make sure every American can live those dreams for years to come.


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