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Washington Times Buys Lobbyist’s Spin, Claims ‘Small Businesses Turn Against Health Plan’

Today, the Washington Times has an article carrying the headline “Small businesses turn against health plan.” With a headline like that, it seems logical that the article would provide some examples of small business owners turning against the health reform plans that are before Congress. But instead, the Times reported this:

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) says small-business owners should worry about the bills’ requirement that employers provide health insurance, and about higher taxes on the wealthy to pay for the proposed benefits. NFIB, a powerful lobbying group and a traditional friend to conservative causes, also says the House reform bills wouldn’t be effective in decreasing insurance costs.

So the headline is based solely on a conservative lobbying group’s warnings about the bill, and not on any evidence (anecdotal or otherwise) that businesses are changing their support for the health reform bills. Actually, the only small business cited in the article at all is David White’s auto shop in Bar Harbor, ME. White is a member of the Main Street Alliance, a small-business group that supports Democratic reform proposals.

Meanwhile, the NFIB “was instrumental in blocking health reform in 1994,” and is back to its same old tricks now, propagating misleading studies that exaggerate the effects that reform will have on small businesses. In fact, the two proposals that that the NFIB claims small businesses “should worry about” — the employer mandate and a surtax on the wealthy — exempt 87 and 96 percent of small businesses, respectively.

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Fifty eight percent of all small-business owners say that they’re having a hard time keeping up with the cost of health care, and the percentage of employers with fewer than 200 employees that offer insurance fell to 59 last year, down from 66 percent in 2002. So the real question here is: Why is the NFIB, which claims to be looking out for the interest of small business, opposing reform that will help those businesses control skyrocketing health care costs? And why is the Washington Times willing to air the NFIB’s grievances as indicative of the entire small business community?