NFR Throws Tantrum Over Small Employer Mandate

Tracy Mullin, the president of National Federation of Retailers, sent an over the top letter to its members asking them to fight against a very small employer mandate penalty.

The employer mandate that is part of the Senate HELP Committee's bill is very modest. If a firm with more than 25 workers does not provide health insurance benefits, it will be required to pay a penalty of $750 a year for full time employees and $375 for part time employees.

In the absolute worst case scenario (an employee working for federal minimum wage and exact minimum number of hours a year to be declare full time), the penalty would add only 5% to the cost of hiring an employee. For the vast majority of employees of large retail firms, it would only increase the cost of employing them by 2-3%. And that is only for firms who do not and do not plan to offer their employees some form of health insurance.

She attacks Wal-Mart for agreeing that an employer mandate might need to be part of health care reform. In the letter she makes ridiculous claims that the minor employer mandate “could quickly push our economic recovery back decades” and “could have long-lasting, devastating consequences to retailers throughout the country.”

Really, Ms. Mullin? That small percent-increase in cost will devastate retailers? I find that claim very hard to take seriously. For example, when the federal minimum wage is raised from $6.55 to $7.25, it will increase the cost of a full time employee by nearly twice the proposed penalty.

It is understandable that many retailers, who don't help their employees get health insurance, don't want to pay a small penalty. But it would be neither “catastrophic” or “devastating.” It is the over the top, sky is falling rhetoric that endangers health care reform. If you are serious about working “diligently on real solutions that would help fix our health care system,” you state your concerns, but tone down your childish temper tantrums.

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