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Tackling the 2.5 Million Jobs Lost in the Affordable Care Act | Commentary

Second, opponents claim that employers will simply cut hours for those working just over 40 to 39 and, since this is a larger pool of people compared to those working just more than 30 hours, these bills exacerbate the problem. Yet, this critique ignores that among businesses with many low-skilled workers, the difference between a part-time and full-time workforce is less pronounced. People working less-skilled jobs for more than 40 hours a week are currently at risk for significant reductions in hours. A shift to 40 hours puts fewer people at risk for hour reductions. Further, for many businesses, those working more than 40 hours are people they rely on to grow their companies. By reducing their hours, business owners only risk losing key talent.

Lastly, opponents suggest that these proposals merely shift the burden from business owners to taxpayers. Yet, as the CBO argued, it is not business owners, but individual workers, who bear the burden.

Ultimately, the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, but that does not mean we should not work to improve it.

Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., recently stated, “Just because the bill was signed into law, doesn’t mean it can’t get tweaked or improved over time.”

Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, also recently said, “I’m going to be the guy, and I’m going to continue to be the guy — as I have been since Day One — continuing to try and fix it.” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., also stated, “There are things we can do to make the bill better, and we want to do it.”

We completely agree with Sens. Landrieu, Begich and Durbin, and we are heartened to hear that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is listening to members of his caucus: “Senators are talking about ways of fixing Obamacare, and I’m happy to continue my discussions with them,” the Nevada Democrat said in January.

We certainly appreciate Reid’s comments and openness to potentially providing relief to small-business owners, and we believe a return to the traditional definition of a full-time work week at 40 hours is a politically viable way to address the negative impacts of the Affordable Care Act on small-business owners, while leaving the core of the legislation intact.

Steve Caldeira is president and CEO of the International Franchise Association.

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