Sen. Clinton Touts Health Care Plan to Small Firms
"One of the decisions that I made based on all the work that I've done, all the scars that I've acquired... is that I wanted to have a plan that provided health care choices to Americans that respected and recognized the important essential role that small business plays in our economy," she told cheering attendees of a conference co-hosted by the Women Impacting Public Policy and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.
The Democratic presidential front-runner noted that 80 percent of all jobs created in America in the last 15 years have come from small firms.
"That's why in my plan what I want to do is to help small businesses to see whether they can afford health care, not to mandate it but to offer them a healthcare tax credit that will enable them to look at their books and figure out whether their healthcare is affordable," she said during a luncheon in the Senate Hart office building. "All of a sudden you're part of a big national group and therefore the price comes down. And between the price coming down and the choices available and the healthcare tax credit we might be able to move up the percentage of small businesses that can afford it."
Clinton, who was a late addition to the luncheon, may have been trying to placate small business concerns about her plan.
Washington Post business columnist Steven Pearlstein notes in his column that "in moving to universal coverage within an employer-based system, it is necessary to require all companies to participate financially, either by offering health insurance to their workers or paying into a pot of money to subsidize low-wage workers. And Clinton knows from experience that small business is likely to be bitterly opposed."
Clinton's solution is to tempt businesses with fewer than 15 employees to offer insurance by offering some tax credits, but as Pearlstein writes, it's "likely to be expensive and distort competition. More to the point, it is unnecessary."
Clinton said her plan will help curb job loss and she praised the efforts of women business chiefs, who own close to half of all businesses in the United States.
"If you add the fact that close to half of all businesses in the U.S. are owned by women, but less than 3 percent of them have $1 million or more in annual revenues, we could close this gap," she said. "We lost 4,000 jobs in our economy last month. We're not seeing the job creation, but the place we will see it is in the small business sector."
She also laid out a goal for one million women to reach $1 million in revenue by 2010.
"We know it's not going to happen overnight, nothing important ever does but we're putting all the building blocks in place," Clinton said. "Obviously, I hope that we can celebrate hitting that goal at the White House."
Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), chair of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, along with Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) also spoke at the event.
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