In less than five months,
President Obama will leave office and historians will begin to assess his
accomplishments and failures. The debate over where he ranks among the
presidents will likely be as fiercely fought as the bitterly partisan
disagreements that marked his eight years as President.

What President Obama and his
supporters may view as his highest achievements would be described less
charitably by most small business owners. Obamacare is foremost among
them.

The Affordable Care Act,
which passed Congress on a strictly partisan basis with a bare majority, is
getting harder to defend by the day. Sixteen of 23 insurance
cooperatives, which were supposed to compete with private carriers, have
already gone under, and the rest are on life support. The same insurance
companies that were cheerleaders for the law are now suffering enormous losses
in the government-run exchanges. Several have already announced that they
are dropping out or sharply reducing their participation. The stampede
out of Obamacare, say experts, will leave as many as a third of Americans with
only one choice.

Insurance premiums for small
business owners have risen sharply under the ACA despite the promise of lower
costs. The pool of Americans receiving subsidized coverage is older and
sicker than the President’s experts predicted, and unless that trend can be
reversed, premiums are sure to rise much higher. Premium spikes will
chase younger and healthier Americans out of the market. Actuaries call
that a death spiral, and at this point it appears to be imminent.

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The President no doubt hopes
that his dramatic expansion of regulatory powers will also be viewed by
historians as a positive legacy. Small business owners will just as
certainly disagree.

The Waters of the US Rule
gives the EPA unprecedented power over local business development. If it
survives a court challenge (NFIB is a plaintiff against the rule), small
business owners will have to apply to the EPA for permission to make even the
smallest improvements to their properties if there is water
nearby. The applications can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Even more worrisome is the flood of lawsuits that the new rule will trigger.

The Clean Power Plan, which
the President touts as a major accomplishment, threatens every consumer with
higher utility bills. Small businesses, which depend on reliable,
affordable electricity, face significantly higher operating expenses that will
eat away at their profits.

The Department of Labor
Overtime Rule, the OSHA Walk-Around Rule, and thousands more regulations
imposed by this administration will make it harder and costlier to start and
run a small business in America. The President and his admirers will
argue that every one of them serves the national interest, a highly debatable
proposition considering the long-term damage to the economy.

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Small business owners don’t
have to wait for history’s verdict on the Obama presidency. They’ve
struggled for eight years. The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, which
is internationally respected, has produced negative readings in 89 of the past
91 months. Faced with higher taxes, higher health insurance costs, higher
litigation risks, and a nearly stagnant economy, small business owners have
been unwilling to take risks. Let’s concede that the President took
office when the country was in deep recession. But that was nearly eight
years ago. It is a historical fact that after previous recessions, the U.S. economy came roaring back mostly on the strength of small business. That
didn’t happened this time.

This is the slowest recovery
in American history. It corresponds with the President’s most aggressive
policies. Historians, economists, and politicians may debate for years
over whether there is a link. In the meantime, small business owners very
much hope that the next eight years will be different.

Sincerely,

Juanita Duggan, NFIB President
and CEO

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