With Tax Day around the corner, tax policy is front and center this week. So are claims about how changes to the tax code will affect small businesses. The Main Street Alliance released a pair of new fact sheets in its "straight talk" series separating truth from fiction when it comes to small business and taxes. One fact sheet focuses on the Buffett Rule, which would ensure that taxpayers earning over $1 million a year pay a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent. The other fact sheet focuses on corporate taxes and small business views on corporate tax contributions.
** SMALL BUSINESS MEDIA AVAILABILITY FOR SUPREME COURT ORAL ARGUMENTS **
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 26, 2012
CONTACT: Rachel Tardiff, Rachel[at]Fitzgibbonmedia.com, 202-746-1507
AUTO MECHANICS TO SUPREME COURT: “THE ACA PASSES OUR INSPECTION – NFIB DOESN’T SPEAK FOR US”
Auto shop owners illustrate small business benefits of health law, presenting sharp counterpoint to NFIB plaintiff (also an auto shop owner) who closed her business and filed bankruptcy with unpaid medical bills
** Auto shop owners from Maine, Maryland, Oregon and Washington available for interviews **
Washington, DC – The owners of small auto repair shops from coast to coast have a message for the Supreme Court as it hears oral arguments, including a challenge from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), on the Affordable Care Act this week. The mechanics’ message: “The health care law passes our inspection with flying colors, so when NFIB argues against it, remember this: NFIB doesn’t speak for us.”
Auto shop owners from across the country can speak to concrete benefits they’re getting from the Affordable Care Act. Examples include the small business health care tax credit, reduced rates thanks to the 80/20 value for premiums rule, and health coverage from a pre-existing condition insurance plan.
In a blow to the NFIB’s case, recent reports broke the news that its lead plaintiff, an auto shop owner from Florida, was forced to close her business and file for bankruptcy last year with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills. Further complicating NFIB’s claim to represent non-partisan small business interests before the Court, a December op-ed in the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Karl Rove-connected Crossroads groups contributed $3.7 million to NFIB in 2010, the same year it joined the lawsuit against the ACA.
Auto shop owners available for interviews on the ACA, the Supreme Court, and NFIB include:
Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Oregon. Jim’s business is benefiting from the ACA’s small business health care tax credit. Jim said:
“We thought we were going to qualify for a credit of about $5,000. Well, we were in for a surprise. When we ran the final numbers, we received a credit of almost $13,000! This health care tax credit and the Affordable Care Act are like a time machine, rolling our health care costs back to what they were years ago.”
Brian England, owner of British American Auto Care in Columbia, Maryland. Brian saw his premiums go down for the first time in memory thanks to the ACA’s 80/20 value for premiums rule. Brian said:
“When we sat down with our agent, I was bracing myself for bad news. But when he gave us our quotes, my worry turned to disbelief. Our rates were going DOWN 6 percent! I almost fell off my chair. Our agent explained the rate cut was thanks to the medical loss ratio requirement in the Affordable Care Act. It’s a piece of the law that requires health insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they collect on health care costs.
“As a small business owner, I’m committed to providing good value to our customers. It seems only fair that we should be able to expect the same from our health insurance companies.”
Laura Waite, owner of Jay’s Professional Automotive in Renton, Washington. Laura was denied coverage for a pre-existing condition, but she’s getting the care she needs and still doing what she loves thanks to the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. Laura said:
“When I got that rejection letter, the thought that kept going through my head was that we’d have to close our business and find jobs with health insurance. It was a devastating thought. Then I found out about the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. I signed up. I’ve since learned that my psoriasis has led to other conditions that need treatment. I’m getting the care I need, and my husband and I are still doing what we love.”
Don Orange, owner of Hoesly ECO Auto & Tire in Vancouver, Washington. Don is happy to see his state of Washington moving forward to implement a state insurance exchange for small businesses. Don said:
“We’ve got to keep moving forward on health care. This is no time to throw it into reverse. These insurance exchanges are going to give small businesses better choices and more bargaining power. I don’t want that taken away.
“For a long time, I couldn’t figure why a group like NFIB would want to put small business owners back in the nightmare scenario health care was for us before the new law. Then I heard about the millions of dollars they got from Karl Rove’s Crossroads groups. Is it the National Federation of Independent Business, or the National Federation of Karl Rove?”
David White, owner of MDI Imported Car Service in Bar Harbor, Maine. David has seen first-hand how rising costs crippled small businesses before health care reform. Back in the early 2000s, faced with a 50 percent hike in his health premiums, he had to do three things: increase employee cost-sharing, raise his prices, and lay off one person for six months. David said:
“Thanks to the payment reforms and the insurance exchanges of the Affordable Care Act, I have peace of mind knowing that I won’t lose my business or my employees because of mounting health care costs. My business, like the dollar and the economy as a whole, runs on confidence; and that’s what the ACA provides me.”
The Main Street Alliance is a national network of state-based small business coalitions. MSA creates opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves on issues that impact their businesses and local economies. www.mainstreetalliance.org
This week, the Affordable Care Act – the new health care law – goes before the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s a good time to ask: “Is the new law making a dent? Is it helping fix small businesses’ rough ride with health care?” We talked to a crew that knows a thing or two about dents and fixing rides: auto mechanics. These auto shop owners are seeing concrete benefits from the new law. They give the ACA a green light on inspection.
The fact sheet below includes stories and quotes from auto shop owners Jim Houser (Hawthorne Auto Clinic, Portland, Oregon), Brian England (British American Auto Care, Columbia, Maryland), Laura Waite (Jay's Professional Automotive, Renton, Washington), and David White (MDI Imported Car Service, Bar Harbor, Maine).
Read the fact sheet:
AUTO SHOP OWNERS DELIVER VERDICT ON HEALTH LAW: “IT PASSES INSPECTION”
Main Street Alliance affiliates are fighting to make sure new state health insurance exchanges are designed to work in the best interest of small businesses, not insurance companies. As part of these efforts, our affiliate in Idaho launched this video highlighting how insurance interests dominate the committees making decisions about health policy in a classic "fox guarding the henhouse" scenario. Click below to watch the video.
Small business leaders in the Main Street Alliance network sent an open letter to U.S. Senators urging them to amend the Jump-start Our Business Start-ups Act that passed the House recently. In the letter, they wrote:
"Rolling back basic transparency rules, like SEC registration, won’t help small businesses. Instead, it will tilt the playing field toward unscrupulous actors who are looking to game the system. That sounds like recreating the same atmosphere that brought about the 2008 financial crisis. We urge you not to do that."
Are you a small business owner in New Hampshire? Is your business taking advantage of some of the early benefits of the new health care reform law? If the answer is yes, we want to hear from you!
Did you receive the small business health care tax credit for providing health insurance to your employees last year? Have you seen some stabilization of rates thanks to the new emphasis on reasonable rate increases and a minimum standard of value for premium dollars? Are you seeing better coverage with free preventive services?
If you've received the health care law's small business tax credit or are benefiting from the law in other ways, please contact us to share your story! MSA is currently collecting stories from New Hampshire small business owners - and especially woman small business owners - on this topic. To share your story, email email@example.com. Thank you.
On February 1, the Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, and the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a national poll of small businesses on regulations and job creation.
The poll found that small business owners’ main concern is weak customer demand, not regulations. When asked what would do the most to create jobs, small business owners’ top response was eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas. Reducing regulation came in fifth place. In fact, most small business owners see government standards as an important tool to level the playing field with big business.
Click here to listen to an interview with Jim Houser (owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Oregon and co-chair of the Main Street Alliance of Oregon).
The Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, and the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a national poll of small businesses on access to credit and proposals to boost the economy.
A few days ago, the Main Street Alliance asked small business owners to share what they wanted to hear the President talk about in his upcoming State of the Union address.
We asked: “As a small business owner, what policies would you like to hear the President put forward in the State of the Union Address as part of a vision for supporting small businesses and building an economy that works for the 99 percent in 2012?”
Here are some excerpts from responses we got:
Deborah, owner of a printing and design company in Oregon:
“Help Americans who are having problems with their mortgages – by helping them not lose their homes, they will have more discretionary income to spend and that income can be used to support their local businesses.
“Eliminate tax breaks for large corporations – if they are not keeping their money in the U.S., they should not receive tax breaks.
“And keep on creating jobs – we are a consumer-driven economy and without jobs, Americans do not have money to consume which causes a snowball effect and decreases sales for small businesses.”
Mario, owner of a tax preparation business in Illinois:
“Shine a light on corporate political spending that tilts the playing field against small businesses.”
Bob, owner of a professional training business in Ohio:
“Small and micro businesses do not worry about regulations and taxes. We worry about consumer demand and consumer confidence that promotes business growth. The one percent worry about taxes and regulations so they can play the system to their own advantage.”
Jim, owner of an auto repair shop in Oregon:
“We have so many hard working Americans who can't find jobs. Right here in Portland, many young people are looking for work. They joined the Occupy movement to get some attention for their plight. We have so much work that needs to be done. Teachers need to be rehired, schools and other public buildings need to be upgraded for energy efficiency. And, according to the Wall Street Journal, some of our biggest corporations are hoarding trillions of dollars right now. If they and other wealthy Americans were paying their fair share in taxes, this country would have the money necessary to engage small businesses to hire people into meaningful work, and I would have customers again. When the economy gets back on its feet, then we’ll have the tax revenues needed to pay down our deficit.”
Jose, owner of a real estate agency in Oregon:
“We, small business owners, are an optimistic bunch. We also get right to the point. We need the State of the Union address to set the tone for a great 2012. We do not have a lot of time to complain, as we have to work with the hand we are dealt. The one issue which would bring me more customers and allow me to hire more employees is comprehensive immigration reform. Our housing industry is stalled and motivating a new generation of homebuyers to enter the market will be a big step in the right direction. Our immigration system has to be fixed...let's do it right this time!”
Halcyon, owner of a retail shop in Maine:
“By reducing military spending and ending the wars, we will be able to afford to offer every citizen the basic coverages of health care, increasing job security and mobility, and business formation. We’ll be able to reduce business expenses substantially for Main Street businesses in low population, greying regions of our country – like rural Maine – and make sure fewer of our health care dollars go into the pockets of corporations and more into the delivery of health care.”
Kelly, owner of a custom woodworking business in New Jersey:
“I would like to hear the President talk about 'Real American Companies' and highlight the real contributions they make by employing people here, paying taxes here, and investing here. The President could announce a program to recognize and reward ‘Real American Companies.’ I keep thinking of a heavy machinery company that could build their machines in China, but they don’t. They have kept American jobs – high skill, high paying jobs – here, along with profits and reinvestment, so they should get a business version of the Medal of Freedom.
“This award could include a ‘Presidential Flag’ to be flown outside the corporate headquarters of companies that have won the award. Of course, we could have another award – a corporate turkey award – for companies that cheat on their taxes, move profits and jobs offshore, or manipulate the law in other ways to cheat their employees and the communities that support them.”
Two years ago on January 21, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. In a divided 5-4 decision, the majority ruled that corporations are free to spend unlimited sums of money in our country’s elections.
There’s been plenty of debate about what this ruling means for our elections and for deep-pocketed special interests. But there’s been virtually no attention paid to what it means for small businesses, or what small business owners think about the Citizens United decision. That is, until now…
On January 18, the Main Street Alliance partnered with allies at the American Sustainable Business Council and Small Business Majority to release results relating to Citizens United from an independent poll of 500 small business owners nationwide. The poll asked small business owners whether they thought the Supreme Court’s decision was good or bad for small businesses.
So, what do small business owners think about Citizens United? Turns out, they’re not big fans. In fact, 66 percent of small business owners believe the Citizens United decision is bad for small businesses, compared to only 9 percent who think it’s good. That’s a margin of 7 to 1. Click here to read the report.
Why such strong condemnation of the Supreme Court’s ruling? In the words of Melanie Collins, owner of Melanie’s Home Childcare in Falmouth, Maine and a leader with the Maine Small Business Coalition and Main Street Alliance, “Small business owners aren’t stupid. We know who wins when corporate heavy hitters can spend all the money they want, as secretively as they want, to influence our country’s elections – and it’s not us.”
Collins added, “The Citizens United decision stacked the deck against small businesses. We’ve got to unstack that deck.”
And that’s what the Main Street Alliance is fighting to do, with an “unstack the deck” sign-on statement for small business owners about money in politics and a campaign against “dark money” – that is, contributions to third party groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that can’t be traced back to the source.
Small business owners are uniting against Citizens United.