NFIB's Dan Danner: 5 Questions with Decker; Small Business Takes on Obamacare

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Byline: Brett M. Decker, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Dan Danner is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, America's leading advocacy group for small businesses. The average NFIB member employs 10 workers. A former White House staffer, Mr. Danner served as chief of staff to the U.S. secretary of commerce and in the private sector as an executive with Armco Inc., a steelmaker. You can find out more about the voice of small business at

Decker: At the end of March, the Supreme Court will rule on NFIB's challenge to Obamacare. What's your constitutional argument against the health care law?

Danner: The primary argument we will be making is that the requirement that every American purchase health insurance is an unprecedented and unconstitutional overreach of federal power. More plainly, never before has the government forced individuals to buy a product, and if the mandate is not struck down, there will be nothing that the government can't compel Americans to purchase. Congress has authority to regulate commerce but not to force people to engage in it.

If the mandate is found unconstitutional, NFIB believes that the entire law should be struck down. Just do the math- without the mandate, the law would be financially untenable. Further, it would no longer do what Congress intended it to do, which was expand coverage and provide insurance at a lower cost. Without the mandate, nothing even remotely resembling the current law would have been passed by Congress or signed by the president.

Decker: How important is this debate over health care for the small businesses you represent?

Danner: The health-care debate is of monumental importance to our membership. For decades, small-business owners have been saying that rising health-care costs are one of their top concerns. Unfortunately, it is abundantly clear to our membership that the new health-care law is not going to help reduce the cost of providing health care to their employees. In fact, this law goes as far as to punish and financially penalize small-business owners that both provide and do not provide coverage. The employer mandate and health insurance tax are small-business job killers. NFIB's Research Foundation simulated the job-loss impact on the private sector should the health insurance tax go into effect, and we found that 125,000 to 249,000 jobs will be lost because of this one tax; small business will shoulder 59 percent of this burden alone.

Additionally, the employer mandate is already forcing members of ours to reconsider how they structure their work force. Some employers of over 50 employees are considering shifting their full-timers to part-time, dropping health insurance altogether, or reducing employment to drop below the threshold. These moves by small-business owners may drastically alter the private-sector work force as we know it. The financial penalties associated with the employer mandate are already factoring into the budget plans of small-business owners and many are already forecasting an inability to afford it. Simply put, the health-care law is a field filled with land mines, bear traps and pits ready to take down a small-business owner. Repealing these egregious provisions and getting back on the path toward reducing the actual cost of health care is a top priority for NFIB and our membership. …