The Hayride showed you yesterday Louisiana resident and small business owner Larry Katz’s testimony at his senator’s – Democrat Mary Landrieu’s – Small Business Committee hearing in Washington, D.C.
It took place Wednesday and was the first hearing about “Implementation of the Affordable Care Act: Understanding Small Business Concerns” Landrieu hosted since providing a critical vote for so-called “Obamacare” in 2009, almost four years ago.
That Landrieu waited so long to hold a hearing, when her sharp tongue lashed out at her own constituent, Katz, is a wonder. Like a copperhead, she could barely contain her venom for the restaurateur, who claimed Obamacare would force him to fire people — or especially Sen. Jim Risch.
The ranking Republican committee member from Idaho, Risch read an open letter to Democrat leaders from the Teamsters Union expressing its membership’s unease with fewer working hours and lower wages, after they had fought so hard for Obamacare’s passage.
Landrieu spit back, “I’m happy to know you’re an advocate for the Teamsters. I’ll be sure to spread that around the House and Senate.”
So much for “understanding” small business owners’ concerns or those of her strongest (maybe former) supporters.
Risch also let slip he’d threatened to hold a hearing along party lines, if Landrieu had refused his request for an official, bipartisan one. Apparently, it was an offer Landrieu – starting a re-election campaign that the non-partisan Rothenberg Report calls a toss-up – couldn’t refuse.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows support for Obamacare among moderate-to-conservative Democrats, making up more than half the Democrat Party, has fallen from 74 percent to 46 percent. And total public support for the law stands at 42 percent, down five points from a year ago.
More Americans than ever want Obamacare repealed, according to a recent CBS News poll.
So Landrieu, cornered, tried to have it both ways at her hearing, claiming she “led the effort to repeal” an unpopular provision of Obamacare, requiring small businesses to report small financial transactions, and she’s prepared to work harder, because “there are other things that could be done to improve this law.”
Grab a shovel, Mary. “Things” are piling up.
The Obama Administration announced earlier in July it would delay the law’s employer insurance mandate. In May, it had already pushed back the Small Business Health Options Program or “SHOP” until 2015. The first would have mandated businesses with over 50 employees insure them; the second would have guaranteed small business owners a choice of plans to offer their workers.
Meanwhile, the individual mandate, which the Supreme Court called a tax, remains in effect, and the administration is spending close to $700 million for better publicity.
Critics note the flood of marketing money is flooding to swing states like Landrieu’s Louisiana, where Democrats are trying to prop up vulnerable candidates, and she’s partly running against the law she helped create.
After three Obama administration officials repeated in their opening statements the same point – that 96 percent of small businesses are exempt from the law – Landrieu reiterated “The vast majority of small businesses do not have to participate.”
“If 96 percent is such a great figure, why don’t we start exempting the other four percent?” Risch shot back.
More irony followed. A Health and Human Services witness, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, touted a shorter Obamacare sign-up form as a success, but it was the result of public outcry over a longer one.
The HHS rep also cited positive developments in six states’ insurance exchanges but could not name the states, referring senators to a website.
The Small Business Administration’s Meredith Olafson, along with all the other administration witnesses, left the hearing before hearing from Katz and small business owners.
Before that, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, maybe making amends to conservatives for playing Democrat frontman for their amnesty push, demanded to know from Brooks-LaSure if anybody would loose his insurance plan because of Obamacare.
Landrieu perked up, claiming “There were no guarantees before the law, and there are few after,” the best endorsement of Obamacare she could muster.
She was a central figure in negotiations surrounding the law in late 2009, when her state received $300 million in extra Medicaid funds, a.k.a. “The Louisiana Purchase,” in exchange for her favorable vote.
After engineering a similar deal, the “Cornhusker Kickback,” for Nebraska, that state’s former Democrat Senator Ben Nelson retired in 2011, rather than face voters again, which is still an option for Landrieu, running for a fourth term in Louisiana.