The Wall Street Journal has published an op-ed by John Boehner and Mitch McConnell in which the two Republic leaders lay out what they say is their plan for the next two years. Part of the plan, they say, is securing Senate passage of bills already passed by the Republican-controlled House:
These bills include measures authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will mean lower energy costs for families and more jobs for American workers; the Hire More Heroes Act, legislation encouraging employers to hire more of our nation's veterans; and a proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment, removing an arbitrary and destructive government barrier to more hours and better pay created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010.(Emphasis added.)
Wow -- the "Hire More Heroes Act." Who could be against hiring more heroes? And the bill did pass the House 406-1 (only my congressman, Jerrold Nadler, voted against it). It got caught up in procedural maneuvering in the Senate, but it has strong support.
So what does it do?
The act would encourage small businesses to hire veterans by exempting veterans who receive health insurance through the Department of Veterans Affairs or reservists covered by Tricare from being counted toward the number of employees required by the employer mandate under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).Oh. So while it provides an incentive to hire more veterans, the incentive is that you as an employer get to deny the rest of your employees health care at the same time.
Speaking on the House floor in favor of the legislation, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, explained that "The 50-employee threshold has been a big disincentive for small businesses to grow. If they have more than 50 workers, they fall under [the PPACA] mandate, and their costs go up.
"So firms with 45, 46, 47 workers are very reluctant to grow any bigger, but if they hire a veteran, under this legislation, that won't count for purposes of determining if they have enough workers to trigger the mandate. If that isn’t an incentive to hire more veterans, I don;t know what it is."
And "a proposal to restore the traditional 40-hour definition of full-time employment"? What an inspiring phrase! That could have come straight out of an FDR speech! It conjures up images from Frank Capra movies and Norman Rockwell paintings! And yet I thought a lot of Americans already were working 40 hours a week (or more). So what exactly is McConnell referring to?
Lobbyists push to change ObamaCare's definition of full-time workSo it's another way to deny workers employer-provided health care. And it won't (as McConnell puts it in this Time interview) "restore the 40-hour work week" for affected workers -- it will restore the 39-hour work week, up from 29, as employers squeeze as much work out of employees as they can without giving them health care.
Major advocates for private industry are forming a new lobbying coalition to push to raise ObamaCare's definition of full-time work to 40 hours a week.
The effort will combine firepower from major K Street associations prior to an election that could see the GOP claim the Senate.
The groups argue that ObamaCare sets an unreasonable standard when it requires employers to offer health coverage to employees who work 30 hours a week or more.
The House in April voted to change the definition to 40 hours, and if the GOP takes the Senate they're expected to make the healthcare law's 30-hour rule a top target in their offensive against ObamaCare....
I know, I know -- these were foreseeable consequence of the way the health care law was written. I understand the argument that the law is seriously flawed in this way (and other ways). But Social Security, for instance, was also enacted with quite a few carve-outs, and it's still a worthwhile program.
My point is that Republicans are still awfully good at concocting (and, through repetition, meme-ifying) lofty-sounding descriptors for not-so-lofty policy goals. (They're also excellent at scaring the crap out of voters with deceitfully negative sounding phrases: "death panels," "death tax," etc.) Meanwhile, the health care law itself has a clunky name and a clunky acronym (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or PPACA) -- it's moderately uplifting, but I think if Republicans had cooked it up it would have had a really star-spangled, apple-pie-and-puppies name. Their bill, if we ever see it, will probably be called the Family Doctor Health Care USA Freedom Act or something like that. It'll screw you, but the name will be designed to make you proud to be an American.