US Senator Dan Coats Reaches out to NFIB Members

Date: April 30, 2014

So, how did Dan Coats spend his break from the US Senate? 

On the beach?  Nope.  Pretty far from it.

Instead of a vacation, Senator Coats was getting an earful from small business owners.  And most interestingly…. He asked for it.  And like most NFIB members I know, the small business owners that participated were not reluctant to share their thoughts.  After speaking briefly about his 10 point plan that he calls “The Indiana Way,” Senator Coats made it clear he was there to listen.

Here’s what he heard:

Tax Reform -  Small business owners need a simpler, fairer tax code.  Any tax reform proposal needs to reflect the fact that most small businesses are pass-through entities (Sub chapter S, LLCs, etc.) and owners pay the business’ income taxes on their personal returns.  Members also brought up the need to eliminate the death tax so that businesses can be passed on to future generations.  They gave Senator Coats some real world examples of the issues that were raised. 

Obamacare – NFIB members shared their experiences and frustration in attempting to comply with the new healthcare law.  One member who has been in business for decades said that in the past she has always paid 100% of her employee’s health insurance costs but had to make tough decision this year.  She disclosed that due to the overly burdensome costs and regulations associated with Obamacare she had now reluctantly been forced to eliminate this benefit.  Eliminating health insurance benefits will make it more difficult for small businesses to compete with large firms that are able to pay less for these benefits.

Unemployment – Small business owners were shocked to hear from Senator Coats that people who receive disability checks were also being allowed to collect unemployment benefits; something that is prohibited by unemployment insurance trust fund rules.  (In order to collect unemployment benefits, a person must be ready and able to go to work.  If you are disabled and receiving disability payments, you are not ready and able to go to work and therefore, not eligible for unemployment benefits.)  This costs the US taxpayer (a/k/a you and me) $6 Billion annually.

Roundtable participants were pleased to hear that Senator Coats had authored a bill that would prevent this “double-dipping.”  But they were disappointed to hear that Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid would not even give the bill a hearing. 

Members spoke of the many abuses of the unemployment and social security/disability system.  One member told Coats that a customer at his motorcycle dealership used his disability payment to purchase a Harley.

Minimum Wage Hike – On the eve of a Senate vote to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, a whopping 37%, NFIB members had a lot to say about how this proposed mandate would affect their small business.  Most do not have minimum wage employees because the minimum wage is viewed as a training wage.  But all felt it would force employees making above the minimum wage to expect a pay increase and it would kill jobs for young people.

Special Note:  On Tuesday this week, the NFIB Senior Vice President of Public Policy Susan Eckerly sent a letter to members of the US Senate stating, “I am writing in strong opposition to S.2223, the “Minimum Wage Fairness Act.”  She further announced that “NFIB opposes any effort to increase the federal minimum wage, and a vote on S.2223, will be considered an NFIB KEY VOTE for the 113th Congress.

Here’s a link to the NFIB Indiana statement on a minimum wage hike:

In conclusion – Senator Coats promised to take NFIB member real-world stories to the Senate.  Thank you Senator Coats for spending part of your “Spring Break” with Hoosier Small Business owners.

You could’ve been on the beach.

Barbara Quandt, NFIB Indiana State Director

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