Following his stop at a Poughkeepsie luncheon Friday, John Hall arrived at a forum in Cortlandt Manor. As in Poughkeepsie, the topic was the newly passed health care law and its coming effects on businesses. Unlike Poughkeepsie, this forum was open to the public. Unfortunately for the public, the venue was changed scant hours before the announced time. (This isn’t the first time John Hall has used what seems to be last-minute stealth-scheduling to minimize the crowd at an event with a controversial topic.) The audience was not much more than a dozen strong, though that didn’t make them any less lively, and they had come prepared with pointed questions.
Mr. Hall had come prepared, too: as with the private events in Monroe and Poughkeepsie earlier that day, he had brought with him a colleague, Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ), one of the members of the committee that put together the House version of the health care bill. Apparently Mr. Hall (or possibly his Democratic Congressional higher-ups) didn’t feel he knew enough about the law to answer questions about it on his own. So, oddly, he relegated himself to the role of sidekick in his own district.
The audience included several small business owners, whose payrolls meet or just exceed the 50-employee threshhold at which they are now mandated by the government to provide health benefits or pay a fine, whether they can afford to or not. They stated their case starkly: the new health care law would force them either to lay people off or to shut down altogether.
An owner of a small furniture store said the employer mandate will make it impossible to keep up with his competition in China, and will force him to lay off many of his 53 employees. John Hall’s response was that a lot of his colleagues wanted a fully nationalized, single-payer system, and the new law represented the best compromise that they could come up with. How this was supposed to reassure the gentleman who asked the question, we don’t know. Mr. Hall went on to opine about “how important it is…to learn to buy American, to buy local.”
Rep. Hall, you just don’t get it: the costs to our businesses in the health law you voted for are going to make it even more difficult for them to compete with China. Americans already want to buy American – and they’ll be much better able to do that if they’re not burdened with a trillion-dollar-plus federal bureaucracy and an avalanche of new taxes on the private sector.