Hypothetically Real In a Really Hypothetical, Back of the Envelope Kind of Way

This was kind of amusing:

Let’s Put Some Real Faces on the Casualties of Obamacare

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that the President and his Democratic allies in Congress intend to force small business with payrolls more than $250,000 per year to provide health insurance to their employees. Failure to do so would be punishable by a fine up to 8 percent of payroll. The article also noted that there are approximately one million businesses with between five and nine employees and average payrolls comfortably in the Democrats’ target range and that only about half of those provide health insurance.

Those are the raw numbers and they are bad enough. However, to drive home the real cost to real people, I decided to do some quick “back of the envelope” calculations to see just what kinds of businesses might have to start firing people if the President’s health care scheme becomes law.

I’m impressed that all of his real faces are people he… just made up. Also, we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.






49 replies
  1. 1
    Bootlegger says:

    Yeah, I’d much rather continue to subsidize those businesses with Medicare. That way I can complain about Medicare.

  2. 2
    Zifnab says:

    Good thing no one is offering some sort of public option to reduce the cost burden on insuring existing staff. Weren’t the Republicans the ones championing how the private sector would solve all our problems? Surely, when you thrust a million small businesses into the private health care system, we’ll just see the free market provide a solution to all our problems.

    I mean, the only other conclusion I can come to is that the status quo is just fine and these six to nine employees per small business didn’t really want or need health care anyway.

    Why is Obama trying to force unnecessary health insurance on our glorious free market?!

  3. 3
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    This is the thing about these kinds of arguments of businesses being forced to scale back or go out of business due to some govment action.

    It is nonsense, provided such action(s) is levied uniformly throughout whatever market said bidness is in. If there is demand for the product they produce for x number of workers needed to produce that product, then no one will shed employees. The added cost might be passed on to the consumer, but they will go on at the same level of production, all else being equal.

    Also, by making it mandatory for all, the action will actually level the playing field for everyone and will make for a healthier more productive work force.

    Now I want to see some current casualties of 47 million people unable to get coverage. Funeral notices for early death will suffice.

  4. 4
    beltane says:

    Rumsfeld’s invasion plan for Iraq was also scribbled down on the back of an envelope. It works well when simple drawings of shapes and not actual numbers are involved. Do conservatives prefer cubes or triangles?

  5. 5
    D-Chance. says:

    As I’ve noted before, substitute “health care reform” for “minimum wage hike” and we’re hearing the same old arguments.

  6. 6
    NonyNony says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Also, by making it mandatory for all, the action will actually level the playing field for everyone and will make for a healthier more productive work force.

    This is not quite true as no matter how the plan is structured, requiring business to pay for insurance for their employees benefits big businesses over smaller ones. A better plan would be to increase income taxes on businesses, use that to pay for health care, and get businesses out of providing health benefits for employees altogether. That would truly level the playing field in a lot of ways, which is why folks like Wal*Mart are cheering on the plan to require businesses to provide health care (temporarily solves their immediate union problems while making sure that no one else can get a leg up on them – they’re so big that they’ll be able to eat that cost better than their competitors AND can probably count on negotiating really good deals with their insurance providers)

    Unfortunately that proposal is DOA for a variety of reasons, not the least of which because it uses the word “tax”. So instead of a de jure tax on businesses that could be applied progressively we’re going to get a de facto tax on businesses that will be based solely on the number of employees they have on staff and what kind of minimum coverage the law is going to require. All because of the health insurance industry and our national allergy to the word tax.

  7. 7
    neff says:

    The NY Post’s scare story was even funnier. Check out this graphic about the real New Yorkers to be affected, including the bakery employee making $80,000 a year and the bodega owner who pays his employees $50,000 a year.

  8. 8
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    I’m impressed that all of his real faces are people he… just made up.

    cf. Joe the Plumber.

  9. 9
    AkaDad says:

    I’d show you 18,000 faces that were denied private health care, but they’re covered up by coffins.

  10. 10
    Graeme says:

    I kind of love all the hyperventilating. Limbaugh wrote that op ed about The Fairness Doctrine, but only the Right was talking about it.

    The NRA whipped everyone into a gun and ammo buying frenzy, but even DiFi admits she doesn’t have the votes for gun control. Also, there are much bigger priorities.

    Cheney has gone on and on about how we’re ‘less safe’ while nothing has happened except a slow news drip that’s making the last Administration look like even bigger criminals than everyone already knew they were.

    This is all the more satisfying because all the GOP guys who hated the W. Administration privately are now bending over backwards in public to defend what this country overwhelmingly rejected in the past two elections.

    By all means, give the GOP more rope! Keep them whining and spinning nutball stories!

    The more they say, the more the ‘tough guys in the daddy party’ are exposed as chicken little pussyboys. And it keeps this blog funny, to boot!

  11. 11
  12. 12

    Clearly the author has a deep and profound understanding of small business and all the policy implications of healthcare reform for small business. I was particularly fond of the part-time employees at a small business making $35,000/year and the owner of said outfit paying her/himself a modest $80,000/year. That part-time gig is almost enough to pay to have the Cheetos and Mountain Dew delivered to mom and dads basement.

  13. 13
    Foulken says:

    Actually, isn’t the payroll claim a lie anyway? It’s not $250,000 of payroll, it’s $250,000 profit. Net, so that’s after expenses (such as payroll!). There are actually very few small businesses that meet this criterion. Using the payroll figure allows him to imagine that small businesses will be effected which actually won’t under the actual plan. His imaginary people just got more imaginary.

  14. 14
    R-Jud says:

    @beltane:

    It works well when simple drawings of shapes and not actual numbers are involved. Do conservatives prefer cubes or triangles?

    None of the above. Stars, stripes, and sexy Sarah Palin doodles.

  15. 15
    iluvsummr says:

    There’s a really good NYTimes article on the true meaning of health care rationing (and the need for some form of it) by a Princeton bioethics professor. One of the points raised is that many people don’t recognize that healthcare rationing (by cost of drugs, co-pays, emergency room wait times, etc.) already exists in the US but are happy to leap on examples from the UK and shriek about how reform will lead to rationing. Check it out if you have some time.

  16. 16
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @NonyNony:

    This is not quite true as no matter how the plan is structured, requiring business to pay for insurance for their employees benefits big businesses over smaller ones. A better plan would be to increase income taxes on businesses, use that to pay for health care, and get businesses out of providing health benefits for employees altogether. That would truly level the playing field in a lot of ways, which is why folks like Wal*Mart are cheering on the plan to require businesses to provide health care (temporarily solves their immediate union problems while making sure that no one else can get a leg up on them – they’re so big that they’ll be able to eat that cost better than their competitors AND can probably count on negotiating really good deals with their insurance providers)

    You’re right about the leg up from bigger businesses. But the proposal is better than the status quo where some small businesses provide health care and others don’t. So competition among them would level some.

    And we would overall have a healthier workforce. Taxing progressively larger companies is the common sense and best way to go, as you say. But OH NOES!, wealth redistribution sockalist, so no can do. Instead, we do what doesn’t work.

  17. 17
    Zifnab says:

    @neff: I just appreciate that none of these people are using any of their deductions or tax credits. Why is it people who complain the loudest about their taxes have absolutely no idea how much they actually pay?

  18. 18
    JackieBinAZ says:

    That would truly level the playing field in a lot of ways, which is why folks like Wal*Mart are cheering on the plan to require businesses to provide health care (temporarily solves their immediate union problems while making sure that no one else can get a leg up on them – they’re so big that they’ll be able to eat that cost better than their competitors AND can probably count on are already negotiating really good deals coordinating with their insurance providers on how to best influence this legislation to enrich themselves even further at our expense.)

    i’m an editor and a cynic.

  19. 19

    @The Grand Panjandrum: My thought, too. My next thought was, ‘How do I apply for this part time gig that pays $35k/year?”

  20. 20
    neff says:

    In other news, the Uighurs are saying that the US military brought Chinese agents to Gitmo to interrogate the Uighurs, and that the Americans were even nice enough to “soften up” the Uighurs before the Chinese got there.

  21. 21
    Mudge says:

    From the HELP bill. Reimbursements for small businesses:

    ‘‘(i) $1,000 for each employee of the employer who receives self-only health insurance coverage through the employer;
    ‘‘(ii) $2,000 for each employee of the employer who receives family health insurance coverage through the employer; and
    ‘‘(iii) $1,500 for each employee of the employer who receives health insurance coverage for two adults or one adult and one or more children through the employer.

    There are carrots too. Perhaps the WSJ is selective and partisan?

  22. 22
    kay says:

    You’re paying the health care costs of small businesses that don’t offer insurance, if the employees themselves cannot cover it out of pocket. Because when they get sick, they have to be treated, and if they can’t pay for it, they still get treatment. They don’t get preventative treatment, but they get medical care, eventually.
    You’re doing that now. We all are.
    You may not mind picking up those employees health care costs, and you don’t know what you’re paying, but it isn’t free and someone, somewhere is paying for it.
    The choice isn’t “free” versus “8% of payroll”.
    It’s “what it costs all of us now” versus “8% of payroll”, and of course the obligor, the employer, is identified in the House plan, instead of everyone just picking up the cost of health care that was delivered and pretending that the expenditure that was never recovered just magically disappeared.

  23. 23
    Cris says:

    Why the fuck weren’t Jimmie Bise’s imaginary companies already paying for health insurance? My previous employer had twelve employees, total payroll was less than $200,000 (note to Jimmie: the back of your envelope should now be indicating that none of us were making over 8 bucks an hour) and they still provided health insurance for everybody who was full time.

  24. 24
    JenJen says:

    O/T, but trust me, this is the funniest thing you will hear today:

    Hilarious: Glenn Beck Freak-Out Radio Remix Video
    http://mediamatters.org/blog/200907170010

    (This site made me HTMLazy. I can’t code for shit anymore.)

  25. 25
    passerby says:

    Any plan that mandates the purchase of insurance, whether by the employer or the individual, essentially enslaves us to the insurance companies.

    Let’s not allow them to consider this kind of plan “health care”–the only thing such a plan takes “care” of is the “health” of the bottom line of these private companies.

    Push for government to insure the health care of Americans.
    Push for Health Care as a birthright for every American.
    Push for The Public Option.

    Any plan that allows the insurance companies continued control through legal mandates cannot be considered reform. It would only be the same profit oriented endeavor that does not favor the actual delivery of health care.

  26. 26
    kay says:

    @Cris:

    And then the small business employer who hires someone with a spouse who is covered free-rides on that insurance, but of course it isn’t “free”, not to the spouse’s employer who offers health insurance.
    If we want to subsidize small business by picking up their health care costs, with our current “plan”, where we insist they have a right not to pay anything, we can do that, but let’s be clear that that’s what we’re doing, and stop pretending.
    It has to be paid for, and it is delivered. The only question is who pays for what.

  27. 27
    Smudgemo says:

    Facts kinda like family farms sure to be wiped out by the “Death Tax.”

  28. 28
    BDeevDad says:

    Scary part is some wingnut arguments are working. My wife, a true liberal, was disturbed by the surcharge because like most in the country, she didn’t understand marginal tax rates.

    And no, we’re not even close to those tax rates, but some of our friends probably are.

  29. 29
    media browski says:

    Businesses are being crushed by the expense of providing employees with all kinds of conveniences like sick days . . . frakk, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just hire children, work them to death, and call it a win for small business?

    The selfishness and shortsightedness of the GOP never ceases to astound.

  30. 30
    A Mom Anon says:

    @JenJen:

    Hilarious. What a total freak this man is. I wonder if he flips out on the wife and kids like that?

  31. 31
    BenA says:

    It’s so mind bogglingly stupid. Everyone in this country except for the richest assholes and their stupid enablers in the Republican party want a single payer or public option….

    Bah!

    I’m just so pissed off over this I could scream. Maybe I should just call up Specter’s offices and yell at them again. It might make me feel better.

  32. 32
    JenJen says:

    @neff: OMG. I couldn’t understand the $80,000 example at all. I’m like, do stay-at-home moms in NYC make $80,000? Sounds awesome!

    But oh, I see, she’s supposed to be a bakery employee. Making $80,000. Still sounds awesome!

    I guess I don’t get it?

  33. 33
    Michael says:

    I’m counting on lots of Small Business Conservative Entrepeneurs to go Galt.

    Why make money and be secure when you can say “fuck it” and go Galt in order to bring this evil marxistlibrulatheistmuslimWallStreetelitestreetthug system down?

  34. 34
    Michael says:

    OT – Oh my – I’ve already burnt my Great Orange Satan diary for the day, so I can’t post it, but check this out.

    http://www.google.com/hostedne.....gD99FOE9O2

    The estranged wife of former Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering claims in a lawsuit filed this week that the Mississippi Republican had an affair that ruined their marriage and derailed his political career.

    The lawsuit says Chip Pickering and Creekmore Byrd were having an affair while Pickering was in Congress and living in a Christian facility for lawmakers on C Street near the U.S. Capitol. He retired from Congress in January and joined a lobbying firm.

    C Street gets in the news again.

    Those Christers know how to party.

  35. 35
    gex says:

    @beltane: Circles. You saw their health care proposal. Or was that their stimulus plan. I don’t know, but the circles were pretty and convincing!

  36. 36
    Michael says:

    And she claims that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour offered Chip Pickering the seat of former Sen. Trent Lott in 2007 but Creekmore Byrd “insisted that if Pickering accepted the position in the Senate that their relationship would not be able to continue.” Barbour eventually named then-Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) to Lott’s seat.

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/s.....z0LXCBUtOx

    Barbour denies it, of course.

  37. 37
    jcricket says:

    It’s clear to anyone with 1/3rd of a brain that Republicans have no interest in improving the state of healthcare in America. In fact, their proposals would, if anything, make things worse for most people while enriching the private insurance industry. The worst of their proposals would destroy the safety net of Medicare, Medicaid and S-CHIP we’ve worked so hard to put in place.

    The Democrats plans, by contrast improve things a little or a lot. The HELP committee plan ain’t perfect, but it’s a ton better than the current situation, and is a good foundation on top of which further reforms can be enacted.

    So why the fuck are Democrats not out there pointing it out?

    Time and again we lose these rhetorical and legislative battles for people’s “hearts and minds” by acting as if we have legitimate opposition and their ideas are to be taken seriously. Bowing to concern-trolling from Broderesque centrists or vicious right-wingers who threaten “doom” just reduces/waters down good ideas until the public thinks everything out of Congress sucks (no matter who’s in charge). Then Republicans get to claim electing them will fix things.

    Democrats need to say, “Here are our ideas. Here’s why they are good. We tried to get good ideas from the other side, but all they presented are complete shite (insert example). That is why we passed this bill.”

    And then, assuming we did not pass something that is complete shite, the public gets to see the benefit of voting Democrat.

    This is so FUCKING SIMPLE. Why don’t we get it? ARGH!

  38. 38
    Martin says:

    It is nonsense, provided such action(s) is levied uniformly throughout whatever market said bidness is in.

    Because even the Republicans know that it’s not uniform. The startup trying to elbow into Microsoft’s market or the electric car company trying to steal market from GM are already at a massive disadvantage because the big players get every advantage from Congress.

    Seems to me that if we’re going to put a burden on small businesses, the balancing factor would be to eliminate the tax breaks on the large ones.

  39. 39
    ironranger says:

    The C Streeters have got to be frantic. From what I’ve read, they’ve been hyper vigilant at flying far under the radar for decades. It’s fascinating how quickly that can fall apart. I’m waiting for the next shoe to drop.

  40. 40
    gex says:

    @passerby: True, to a point. One of the problems with the current system is that the risk pooling is all fucked up since young healthy people frequently opt out of insurance altogether. A mandatory portion could help make the insurance aspect of it work properly – that is if we get serious about regulating the insurance companies or if we get a reasonable public option.

    @ironranger: It’s hard to go unnoticed when you have trouble keeping your pants on.

  41. 41
    Michael says:

    The C Streeters have got to be frantic. From what I’ve read, they’ve been hyper vigilant at flying far under the radar for decades. It’s fascinating how quickly that can fall apart. I’m waiting for the next shoe to drop.

    Near as I can tell, the lodgings ther are a frathouse where the boys could go and brag about their conquests, all while cooking up ways to keep it covered as a group enterprise in Pharisaicism and power-mongering.

  42. 42
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @jcricket:

    It’s clear to anyone with 1/3rd of a brain that Republicans have no interest in improving the state of healthcare in America. In fact, their proposals would, if anything, make things worse for most people while enriching the private insurance industry.

    One after another comes on my teevee and lies without so much as one centilla of remorse. Though some are just too damn dumb to know they’re lying, the bulk are like the sleaziest of used care salesman. Whatever it takes to protect their Plutocrat masters and sell the public a rotting lemon/

  43. 43
    Jennie says:

    “Asked if Obama supports the surtax on wealthiest Americans even though it would break a campaign pledge, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said only, “It’s a process that we’re watching.””

    Didn’t Obama explicitly state during the campaign that high earners would be taxed more both to support programs and to reduce taxes on low(er) earners?

    And how come I don’t remember Obama promising that “No family will pay higher tax rates than they would have paid in the 1990s.”? As I recall, the only references he made to taxes in the ’90’s were along the lines of “Hey, we all did better under the Clinton tax scheme than we’ve been doing lately, huh?”

    “If the House plan passes, Wylde said, “There literally, at this point, is very strong reason to relocate your family and your business outside New York.”” To some state that won’t be subject to the new federal taxes? Which state will that be?

  44. 44
    ironranger says:

    gex: Maybe the C Streeters should have thought of requiring chastity belts. Members counseling each other looks more like the blind leading the blind.

  45. 45
    passerby says:

    @gex:

    “…young healthy people frequently opt out of insurance altogether.”

    I take your point, gex. And let’s not forget that there are many, many more who opt out for financial reasons whether they are healthy or not.

    This point reinforces the need for government insured health care. Yes, I’m talking about socialized medicine, though if those formulating the reforms were to use that term, we’d see the spontaneous combustion of the Obama-is-a-soshalist drum corps. Now, that would be a mushroom cloud!

  46. 46
    kay says:

    @jcricket:

    I don’t know why Democrats don’t make any arguments. I honestly have no idea. I don’t know why we’re pretending doing nothing is cost-free, and accepting this “pay…or not pay?” ridiculous frame. It isn’t cost-free. Not paying isn’t an option.
    We have workman’s comp in this country, because we came to the rational recognition that someone was going to have to pay the costs for injured workers, so it made sense to insure them.
    We knew it had to be paid. We knew it because before workman’s comp we were all picking up the cost.

  47. 47
    Cris says:

    @Jennie:

    “Asked if Obama supports the surtax on wealthiest Americans even though it would break a campaign pledge, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said only, “It’s a process that we’re watching.”

    Didn’t Obama explicitly state during the campaign that high earners would be taxed more both to support programs and to reduce taxes on low(er) earners?

    I want to know this too. What campaign pledge are they talking about? I recall the campaign relying an awful lot on “less than $250,000” conditionals.

  48. 48
    tripletee (formerly tBone) says:

    @jcricket:

    This is so FUCKING SIMPLE. Why don’t we get it? ARGH!

    You should shrill. If you’d stop spewing your leftist bile for a second, David Broder would be glad to explain that we have to pretend the Republicans are offering thoughtful alternatives because shut up, that’s why.

  49. 49
    One sick twisted hippie says:

    @Cris: http://www.politifact.com/trut.....-form-tax/

    That explains the promise and how it has been broken. Somehow I dont feel as betrayed as some think I should.

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