House Democrats’ wishlist is a nightmare for small businesses

Op-EdAppeared in The Hill on November 30, 2018By Bernie Marcus

As the political class sorts through the midterm election for clues as to what happened, it’s useful to anticipate the policies that are coming. Members of the incoming majority made no secret of their ambitions.

They want tax hikes. Very few Democrats offered specific tax plans, but they uniformly opposed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Some, like returning Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), promised to repeal it.

That includes the middle-class tax cuts that she famously called “crumbs.” It also means higher corporate taxes.

Every one of them, especially the new members representing taxpayers in Northern Virginia, suburban Chicago, South Florida, Upstate New York and other areas, should explain how higher taxes on income and business will affect their constituents.

Most Americans know that tax hikes will hurt consumers and shrink the economy. If Democrats think they’re wrong, then they should explain why.

They want “Medicare for All.” Health care was one of the biggest issues in the campaign, and the Democrats used it to their advantage. Americans are understandably concerned about the exorbitant cost of health insurance, which ObamaCare was supposed to reduce.

Democrats vowed to defend ObamaCare or replace it altogether with a $32-trillion entitlement that would double federal taxes, outlaw private insurance and force everyone to buy coverage from the government.

Now that they’ve won by exploiting Americans’ fears over health care, Democrats must explain how they’ll pay for the new system and how it will affect access to the best medical care in the world.

They want $15 minimum wage. The Democrats will push to double the federal minimum wage. That means employers in Topeka, Kansas and Pottsville, Penn. will have to pay the same wages as employers in San Francisco and New York City.

We don’t need to guess how this will work out. Researchers in Washington concluded just last year that Seattle’s $15 minimum wage smothered jobs and reduced income by forcing employers to cut hours for workers.

Fewer jobs and lower incomes for low-wage workers: Democrats want that for the rest of the country. Every one of them should explain why they think that’s a good idea.

They want mandatory paid leave. This is high on the Democrats’ wish list. They want to force businesses, no matter how small, to provide paid leave. Most businesses already provide paid leave, but many small businesses can’t.

They employ mostly younger, hourly workers with low job skills. And if their workers aren’t working, they’re losing customers. So, it’s a double hit to the bottom line.

They want overtime. The Democrats want to restore the Obama administration’s decision to double the number of workers eligible for overtime. Essentially, millions of junior managers now on salary will have to get paid time-and-a-half for every hour over 40.

That sounds great, except that many small employers can’t pay it. What will they do? They’ll be forced to convert salaried employees into hourly workers that will strip them of managerial responsibilities and benefits. It’ll cost jobs and hurt the very people whom the Democrats are pretending to help.

The Democrats are brimming with countless other ideas for driving up the cost of doing business and slowing the economic recovery. They’ll call for more environmental regulations, more banking regulations and more labor regulations.

Republicans in the Senate, who now have a larger majority, will block all of it, but passing new laws really isn’t the point — yet. That will come after 2020, when Democrats hope to win back the Senate and take the White House. Everything they do between now and then is a precursor.

Most political candidates have plans for everything but explanations for nothing. But the campaign is over. The new House majority must now help govern the country, and empty rhetoric won’t cut it.

The Job Creators Network, an organization that I co-founded, believes the best way to avoid bad economic policies is to educate America’s 30 million small-business owners and their employees.

On their behalf, we’ll be demanding explanations. Like boxing legend Joe Louis once said, “They can run but they can’t hide.”

Bernie Marcus is retired co-founder of Home Depot and co-founder of the Job Creators Network.