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Repeal: the New Year’s resolution Congress should keep

The ball has dropped and it's a new year, when new resolutions and promises abound. After the gavel drops to mark the start of the 112th Congress, the new leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to take swift action to deliver on a promise made to the American people: repeal the health care law.

There are many reasons for repeal. The political practicality of doing so should be obvious - if the recent election results weren't enough, December Rasmussen polls show a majority of voters favor repeal. There are also powerful fiscal and economic reasons widely agreed upon by economists on all sides. The path to economic recovery is already questionable and fragile, and should not be put at further risk because of this law.

But one reason for repeal should mean more than others: This health care law is harmful to small business and small business wants it undone.

Small business owners and their employees have already started to feel the negative impacts of this law. Some have had their insurance plans canceled. Others are looking at changing plans because they will no longer be able to afford to meet new requirements.

Worse than the impact small businesses already feel is the anticipation and uncertainty about what is yet to come. The law is so big and so complicated, many lawmakers who supported it have confessed they don't even know what's in it. How can a small business plan?

While the law leaves small business riddled with uncertainty about how these new costs will impact their ability to reinvest and grow their business, there are things that are certain for small business. Without a doubt, the health care law will increase costs, leave consumers with fewer choices and will bury businesses in new requirements.

For example, there is a special tax on the types of insurance plans that small businesses buy, amounting to billions of dollars annually. There is a new IRS paperwork provision that requires small businesses to file a 1099 form for almost every business transaction that totals $600 or more per year.

There are other funny-sounding taxes - like the suntan tax and the Cadillac tax - that aren't funny to small business, instead nailing their bottom line. Worse, each funny-sounding tax and new provision forces small businesses to spend more money on their insurance plans, tax compliance and accountants, and less on creating jobs and growing the economy.

This isn't the reform small businesses asked for, and it isn't the reform that will help them overcome their biggest health care problem: ever-increasing costs. In fact, this law has made things worse than before. In an economy like this, that is a poison pill for businesses trying to get themselves back in the black.

Democrats hold up pre-existing conditions and stricter rules on insurers as reasons for preserving this monstrosity. It's true this law contains some worthwhile provisions supported by Americans, and there is no reason those wouldn't be included in future, more responsible reform efforts. Using those few to rationalize a trillion-dollar program that taxpayers and businesses can't afford makes little sense, though. It's like buying a mansion because you like the door knobs.

Small businesses have been clear all along. They wanted reform that lowered costs. This law didn't do that, instead it added new taxes, fees and mandates. Small businesses are ready to work with the President and Congress to reduce costs and expand access to health care. However, they must first respond to the country's unmistakable demand to repeal the current law.

This is one New Year's resolution that should be kept.
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Tony Gagliardi

Tony Gagliardi is Colorado state director for the National Federation of Independent Business. Contact him at 303-831-6099 or via email at tony.gagliardi@nfib.org.

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