After Opposing Health Reform, Herman Cain Faulted Clinton For Failing To Lower Costs

Over at the Washington Monthly, Ryan Cooper makes a compelling case for why Herman Cain’s opposition to health care reform — from President Clinton’s efforts to Obama’s law — hasn’t done any favors for the small business community he claims to represent:

By staving off any efforts at cost control, Cain and his allies left small businesses in an increasingly untenable position. Health care price increases disproportionately affect small businesses, mostly due to their lack of bargaining power—large companies, with their bigger pools of employees, can negotiate better prices. This is a major drag on the sector, not only making it more expensive for a small business to do the same work as a large one but also impinging their ability to attract talented employees, as large companies can offer better benefits. As Cain and others are fond of pointing out, restaurants are mostly small— according to the NRA, 91 percent of restaurants have fewer than 50 employees, so they are part of this broader trend. Survey data bear this out: a 2008 survey, ironically from the NFIB, concluded: “The ‘Cost of Health Insurance’ continues its reign as the number one small business problem, a position it has held for over 20 years.”

During an interview in 1999, Cain himself “cited health-care insurance as one barrier foodservice operators face in trying to recruit and retain employees” and then “faulted Congress and the Clinton administration for not coming up with affordable health insurance for everyone.”

But despite his opposition — and that of many business owners who see reform in terms of short term cost increases rather than longer-term savings — the Affordable Care Act provides tax credits for small businesses that purchase health insurance for their employees and will offer employers greater choices and purchasing leverage through state-based insurance exchanges in 2014.


Matt Yglesias adds, “Business owners have the strongest conservative ideology of any occupational category, and in America, opposition to universal health care is an important building block of conservative ideology. In other western countries where universal health care is taken for granted and the dispute is over how to organize its provision, I think business owner views would be more closely tethered to a concrete assessment of what’s good for the bottom line.”

Share Update