Of pygmies and entrepreneurs

Of all the political fetishes, the one I can least stand is the hollow fealty to the well-being of the Small Business Person. It’s hard to know which is worse – the disconnect between pious claims to be acting in the interest of the Small Business Person and the reality of policies that ensure the continued dominance of corporate behemoths, or the anecdotal/token Small Business Person who is trotted out to share their salt of the earth (which in news terms means conservative) insights into the news of the day.

Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog caught a particularly egregious example of the latter in coverage of the Supreme Court vote:

This morning, NPR’s Yuki Noguchi wanted to know how an ordinary small business owner feels now that the Obama health care law has been upheld. So she turned to this guy:

The law will give some small businesses tax incentives to pay for employee health care. Starting in 2014, those with 50 or more employees will be required to provide it.

That requirement is bad news for businesses like Perfect Printing in Moorestown, N.J. The company’s president and CEO, Joe Olivo, says he now has 48 employees, for whom he pays some health care coverage.

But he’s intensely aware of crossing that 50-person threshold and will think very hard before hiring more people so he can avoid hitting government requirements that he says will raise his health care costs.

Last night, Anne Thompson of NBC News wanted to know the same thing. So she turned to … the same guy:

ANNE THOMPSON: For small business owners like Joe Olivo, it is the unknown cost of the law that could impact his printing business….

Olivo offers health care to his 48 workers. If he goes to 50, he says the law would require him to provide more comprehensive and expensive care or pay a penalty. He says the penalty makes more sense.

JOE OLIVO: The penalty is far below my premiums. It’ll be cheaper for me to allow the employees to go and purchase insurance on the exchange by themselves.

Two things make me wonder about the long-term viability of this fellow’s printing business. First, he seems to value the difference between the penalty (which he would have to pay anyway) and the additional partial premiums more than he values making an investment in his business. More important, Mr. Olivo’s busy schedule of external activities likely leaves little time for printing:

Well, as it turns out, Joe Olivo of Perfect Printing turns up quite a bit in public discussions of this and other issues. Here he is testifying against the health care law before House and Senate committees in January 2011. Here he is on the Fox Business Network around the same time, discussing the same subject. Here he is a few days ago, also on Fox Business, talking to John Stossel about the law. Here he is discussing the same subject on a New Jersey Fox affiliate.

And here he is in July 2010 discussing small business hiring with Neil Cavuto on Fox News. Here he is opposing an increase in the minimum wage in an MSNBC debate a couple of weeks ago.

Go to many of these links and you find out something about Joe Olivo that NPR and NBC didn’t tell you: he’s a member of the National Federation of Independent Business. NFIB’s site and YouTube page promote many of Olivo’s public appearances. He was the subject of an NFIB “My Voice in Washington” online video in 2011.

NFIB, you will not be surprised to learn, is linked to the ALEC and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, and to the usual rogues’ gallery of right-wing zillionaires.

See? Jes’ folks, speaking from the Small Business Person heart of America.

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