For all their talk about being pro-businesses, the Republicans’ TumpCare-RyanCare bill to replace the ACA is anything but.
Big business makes all the headlines, it spends all the money on lobbyists, it makes the big contributions to Congressional election campaigns. But according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it’s literally a drop in the bucket. There are 27.9 million businesses in the United States, of which only 18,500 have more than 500 employees — the federal definition of a big business.
That’s just 0.066% of the total. How tiny a slice is that? You can’t even force a spreadsheet to recognize it in a pie chart; it rounds down to zero. (Graphically, big businesses are represented by that thin black line between the orange and yellow fields in the chart below.)
Put another way, if you were negotiating to buy a $25,000 car, a .066% discount would bring the price down by $16.50. You hear people talk about the super-wealthy as The 1%; we’re talking 1/15th of 1%. That’s how few businesses there are with large numbers of employees. Granted, they have an outsized impact because they are so very, extraordinarily large. But in terms of numbers, if big businesses are alcohol in your blood, there aren’t enough of them to get drunk.
There are 5.73 million small business — defined by the government as fewer than 500 workers, which by any other measure is still a pretty sizeable enterprise. Of these, 5.13 million had 20 employees or less. That’s the gray slice in the chart above. Now we’re actually talking about what most people envision when they hear the term “small business.”
And where are the other 22 million-or-so businesses hiding? They’re smaller still. They’re in home offices and coffee shops, consulting or freelancing, driving for Uber and Lyft, working under contract without a 401(k), an employer-sponsored health plan or even free coffee.
These are classified as non-employers — just the owner making an honest living for him/herself and the family.
The total is startling: 97.9% of all U.S. businesses have fewer than 20 employees, and they account for nearly $1 trillion in revenue each year, according to Forbes – the magazine that hails itself as the capitalist tool.
They also account for nearly 1 in 5 people who work. And for 1 in 5 Obamacare health insurance policies.
So if the point of TrumpCare-RyanCare is to reduce federal healthcare costs, it’s doing so by raising expenses on the largest number of American businesses.
These are not tycoons. They’re average people who earn an average of $44,000, which is right around the median of American household earnings. It’s the new working class, if you will — putting food on the table, paying the mortgage, contributing their fair share of taxes. They are simply pursuing the values Republicans so often trumpet: Freedom, independence and self-reliance. They should be regarded as virtuous.
But this bill punishes them. It will push a bunch of them to throw up their hands and look for a job. Because working on your own is relentless. When you sleep , money stops coming in. You work through the flu. You can’t allow yourself to think how fast your corporate clients would drop you if a heart attack forced you to take off for two weeks.
Is this what big corporations want? Do they really need the job applicants when they’re doing whatever they can to shuffle people off their payrolls and into coffee shops and home offices.
“On-demand hiring lowers costs and creates more competition for talent while traditional workers’ career paths are phasing out and being replaced with temporary jobs focused on skill (versus career) development, says a recent article in Fast Company.
In 2005, 10.1% of workers were part of the so-called “gig economy,” according to a report last year in the Boston Globe, which ran under the headline “The gig economy is coming. You probably won’t like it.” By 2015, that number had increased to at least 15.8%. An oft-cited study by Freelancers Union now puts the figure at 35%; and Intuit estimated back in 2010 that it will hit 40% by 2020 – the same year the Congressional Budget Office estimates the 24 millionth person will lose his or her health insurance under the Republican TrumpCare-RyanCare bill.
Much has been written about the pros and cons of the gig economy. It’s not for everyone. But it is clearly a growing part of the U.S. economy. It’s the direction of capitalism, is it not? The corporate bosses who pay the lobbyists who ply the Capitol certainly think so.
It’s the dirty secret the GOP doesn’t want to acknowledge: Obamacare isn’t only about making healthcare insurance available for the sick, needy, lazy and shiftless. It’s also about making coverage available to millions of people who do the work corporations are too miserly to do for themselves.
But by passing a law designed to make individual health-care plans more restrictive and unaffordable, Congress is essentially discouraging new capitalists from competing, from pursuing liberty and independence, from becoming self-reliant, from following the American Way.