Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling to uphold President Obama’s health-care law sent shockwaves of “deep disappointment and concern” throughout the food-service industry. That’s what the National Restaurant Association, International Franchise Association, National Council of Chain Restaurants, and several flacks speaking up for big and fast food told Nation’s Restaurant News, anyway. Really, it’s no surprise that the people crying foul are leaders of a segment of the hospitality industry that makes its profits primarily on the backs of mostly low-wage and part-time employees. The party line they’re towing warns that the new policy will “force operators to raise prices, eliminate jobs, and put the brakes on growth.” But is it possible that they’ve got it wrong? That’s what some other chefs say.
Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a piece penned by Makini Howell, who owns a handful of small, independent restaurants in Seattle. She enthusiastically blurted, “This is a great day for my business and for small businesses across America.” She sees health-care reform as an asset to her budding business.
Howell contends the law makes it possible for her to provide health insurance to her 30-plus employees, which, in turn, she says enables her to assemble a “talented, committed, and motivated” team whose loyalty and hard work help her business grow. Even in a bum economy. While the health-insurance incentive has helped her fill out her ranks with dependable employees, the law’s tax credits for small businesses makes it possible for her to insure them.
What’s more, she argues, is that when the law goes into full effect in 2014, those credits will increase to almost a third of her costs, which will give him a leg-up to expand further and hire more employees. That hardly sounds like a recipe for killing jobs and holding back business growth.