Dave Gonigam

After three months of dim optimism, small-business owners are turning gloomier again. So says the monthly Optimism Index from the National Federation of Independent Business.

The March number clocked in this morning at 89.5. That’s below average even for the period since the “official” end of the recession in June 2009.

“Virtually no owners think the current period is a good time to expand,” says NFIB chief economist Bill Dunkelberg, “because they simply don’t know what the future holds.”

Case in point: “The Obama administration now says a special system of exchanges designed to make it easier for small businesses to provide insurance will be delayed an entire year,” reports Jim Angle at Fox News.

The idea was that come next year, workers would have a variety of insurance choices, backed by their employers’ dollars. Now that won’t happen till 2015. Next year, there will be one choice only… and it might not even be their current provider.

“Let me try to understand this,” spits Joe Klein at Time: “The key incentive for small businesses to support Obamacare was that they would be able to shop for the best deals in health care superstores — called exchanges. The administration has had three years to set up these exchanges. It has failed to do so.”

For businesses small enough that they’re not required to provide coverage, the simplest option might be to drop coverage and let workers go onto the state-run exchanges — which the White House swears up and down will be operating by October. Heh…

“Even if it’s just a small change of people who are leaving the employment-based insurance and coming into the individual insurance market,” says Sara Teppema from the Society of Actuaries, “their costs and their numbers will overwhelm those who are currently uninsured.”

So much for the “affordable care” promised by the law.

Regards,
Dave Gonigam

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Dave Gonigam has been managing editor of The 5 Min. Forecast since September 2010. Before joining the research and writing team at Agora Financial in 2007, he worked for 20 years as an Emmy award-winning television news producer.

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