A marriage made in hell. Maybe We’d See Some “Green Shoots” if the Government Would Stop Stomping on Them
Here’s an example: Recently, there have been changes to the Cobra laws that grew out of the stimulus package. The government site that explains the program is 22 pages long, hard to follow, and didn’t answer all of my questions, but it was the best I could find.
As I understand it, there are two basic changes: First, employees who initially turned down Cobra have another chance to say yes (if they became eligible for it after Sept. 8). Second, business owners who have more than 20 employees and offer health insurance are now required to lay out 65 percent of any Cobra payments for employees who qualify for the benefits (this, too, applies to employees who took Cobra after Sept. 8). In addition, employers also must collect the 35 percent that employees still have to pay.
This represents a significant new burden to small businesses. Yes, the government will eventually reimburse employers for these Cobra payments through payroll tax credits. But that can take months.
Let’s think about what’s happening here. There is an assumption that an employee who is laid off is going to need help making those Cobra payments, and that may well be the case. But what about the employer? If a company is laying off people, there’s a pretty good chance it’s losing money. Possibly a lot of money. In some cases, it may be fighting desperately just to stay in business.
America isn’t hiring precisely because of government policy. Small business owners, who are usually the first into and the first out of the job pool, are standing by the fence and watching. They are paralyzed by regulatory uncertainty. If they hire someone who ends up doing poorly, will they be able to fire that person? Will they have to pay their health care bills after they’ve been terminated? If so, for how long? Who will pay for all these stimulus checks? If it will turn out to be small business, why would they hire instead of keeping costs low to prepare for the big tax bill? Where will the market move? Are you in the right business or are your clients in a politically disfavored industry? . . . Jobs aren’t languishing despite the government’s best efforts. They’re languishing because of them.
More at the link.