In today’s Wall Street Journal, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke explains the impact of the new health care legislation on businesses. Here’s the text of his op-ed:
Don’t Believe the Writedown Hype
Taken as a whole, health reform is undeniably pro business and pro jobs.
By GARY LOCKE
President Obama began his campaign to reform the American health-care system focused on three goals: protecting Americans’ choice of doctors and health plans, assuring quality and affordable health care for all Americans, and reducing costs for families and businesses.
The new comprehensive health-care legislation meets these goals, and will significantly benefit American businesses by slowing and eventually reversing the tide of crippling premium increases washing over our nation’s employers.
These cost savings are real. They will grow over time. And they will make U.S. businesses more competitive.
First, by drastically cutting the number of uninsured, this law reduces the hidden tax of about $1,000 for family coverage that those with insurance pay to cover the cost of the uninsured who rely on emergency rooms for care.
Second, the law invests $5 billion in a new reinsurance program for early retirees starting this year. For employers paying for their retirees between ages 55-64, this provision will directly reduce family premiums by as much as $1,200.
MBDA allocated roughly $1 million to seven minority business centers last month. The Minority Business Centers located in cities in Mesa, AZ; Bismarck, ND; New Orleans, LA; Durham, NC; San Jose, CA; Detroit, MI; and Philadelphia, PA received the funding to increase minority business contracting opportunities in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The Minority Business Centers in these cities will assist in “minority-owned firms playing a significant role in the nation’s economic growth,” says MBDA National Director David Hinson. MBDA kicked off the ARRA Initiative last month with events in Charlotte, NC; Philadelphia, PA and New Orleans, LA.
The Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITACs) play a critical role as industry’s voice in developing U.S. trade policy. Through the ITACs, business leaders have an opportunity to work side-by-side with U.S. Government officials and trade negotiators in advising the Secretary of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on industry specific issues related to, among others: market access, customs matters, foreign investment and intellectual property protection.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced a new Obama Administration initiative designed to streamline government bureaucracy and bring services and solutions directly to businesses and entrepreneurs creating and sustaining jobs. Locke made his announcement at the Detroit Economic Club’s National Summit. The new initiative will be launched this summer in the Detroit area.
Responding both to President Obama’s call to make government more responsive and a once-in-a-generation economic crisis, Locke initiated the effort after seeing how complicated it can be to navigate the alphabet soup of Commerce agencies and programs.
In 1972, Phil Archuleta started P&M Signs in the rural community of Mountainaire, New Mexico. Back then, Mr. Archuleta probably didn’t know his company would be one of MBDA’s first and longest-standing clients but now nearly 40 years later he’s seen his company grow substantially, more than doubling gross sales and hiring 30 new employees along the way.
Its minority entrepreneurs like Mr. Archuleta who inspired Representatives Mike Honda (D-CA), Nydia Velázquez (D-NY), Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Dale Kildee (D-MI) to sponsor a resolution (H. Res. 215) to recognize MBDA and its network of business centers’ accomplishments, highlighting the importance of minority businesses on our economy.
On March 5, 1969, President Richard Nixon established what is today called the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Over the last four decades, MBDA has promoted the establishment and growth of minority businesses in the United States. MBDA is the only federal agency tasked with advancing the competitiveness of minority businesses and throughout the year will be highlighting those minority businesses that have benefited from MBDA programs and the people and communities it has impacted.
MBDA prides itself on remarkable success. In 2008, the Agency ranked as one of the top three bureaus within the U.S. Department of Commerce and touched more than 25,000 minority businesses, in turn, they created more than 5,000 new jobs. In addition, MBDA programs generated $1.85 billion in terms of dollar value of contract and financial awards to minority businesses.