WASHINGTON, D.C. | July 23, 2013 -
The Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions, chaired by Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), and the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, chaired by Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), today held a joint hearing to examine the Obama administration’s recent decision to delay enforcement of the health care law’s employer mandate. The delay was announced through a blog post on the Treasury Department’s website just days before the July Fourth holiday.
“The delay provides workplaces a temporary reprieve from an onerous mandate,” said Rep. Roe. “However, it does not alter the fact the law is fatally flawed. Regardless of when the employer mandate is implemented, it will destroy jobs and force Americans to accept part-time work when what they desperately need are full-time jobs. That is why the House will continue to demand permanent relief for all Americans.”
Grace-Marie Turner, president of the Galen Institute, highlighted the need for permanent relief. “A one-year delay in the employer mandate will not change the hiring behavior of employers,” said Ms. Turner. “They won’t hire full-time workers while knowing they would have to let those workers go a year from now. If anything, the delay gives employers more time to figure out how to restructure their businesses and workforces to avoid the added costs of the health law.”
That is precisely what is taking place in businesses across the country. Jamie Richardson, a senior leader with the White Castle restaurant chain, testified that business growth has slowed. “I would like to tell you today that White Castle’s growth has continued uninterrupted,” said Mr. Richardson. “I would like to tell you we’ve continued to open more restaurants in more neighborhoods, providing more jobs, and serving more customers. I’d like to tell you that, but I can’t. In fact, White Castle’s growth has halted.”
Mr. Richardson continued, “In the five years prior to the health care law, we were opening an average of eight new White Castle restaurants each year. In 2013, we plan to open just two new locations. While other factors have slowed our growth, it is the mounting uncertainty surrounding the health care law that brought us to a standstill.”
According to Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of American Action Forum, White Castle’s experience is not unique in today’s workplaces. “The [health care law] will continue to have a damaging impact on the American economy as it imposes both a financial and paperwork burden on employers, creates uncertainty about labor costs, and has clear disincentives for hiring full-time workers,” said Mr. Holtz-Eakin. “The employer mandate is a key failing of the law… While firms are waiting to understand how this law will impact their business, they are making decisions now to limit their future financial liabilities, and thus hiring less than they would in the absence of the law.”
“The decision to delay enforcement of the employer mandate is confirmation that the law is in fact a ‘train wreck,’" said Rep. Walberg. “Republicans have long cited the failings in the law and our concerns have been dismissed as political rhetoric. Yet the more we learn about the law, the more problems we encounter and the bigger the opposition grows… I believe we can do better than misguided policies that destroy full-time jobs.”
To read witness testimony, opening statements, or watch an archived webcast of today’s hearing, visit www.edworkforce.house.gov/hearings.
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