Without federal leadership, states must safeguard ACA markets

The Hill

Although the Trump administration and its allies failed to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last year, they took a number of smaller steps that added up to a big problem: The ACA is now weaker.

Unfortunately, the administration is still seeking to undermine the health-care law, moving forward with proposals that would expand association health plans (AHPs) and short-term insurance plans, both of which have the potential to limit the ability of state insurance commissioners to regulate health plans and cause premiums to rise.

While some claim these proposals would be a boon for small business, small business advocates and health-care experts know we must maintain safeguards that promote affordable health-care coverage and stabilized health insurance markets.

The proposal to expand association health plans threatens both state insurance oversight and market stability. If the administration’s current proposal becomes a rule without offering guarantees that states would retain regulatory authority over these plans, it could wreak havoc on the small-group market.

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BankThink Mulvaney’s proposed CFPB reforms are bad for small business, too

American Banker

Mick Mulvaney is something of a novelty among Washington bureaucrats: He seems to want less power.

Mulvaney, as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, just proposed watering down his own agency in order to make it less capable of fulfilling its mission to protect consumers. In doing so, he showed he has no regard for the millions of American small businesses that need fraud protection and want to see Wall Street held accountable for practices that harm our economy.

Not one of Mulvaney’s recommendations would help the CFPB do its job better. He asked lawmakers to put the agency at the mercy of politics by subjecting it to congressional appropriations, instead of funding it through the Federal Reserve as it is now, and said he wants CFPB rules to be subjected to legislative approval. He also believes the president should have direct oversight of the bureau’s director, including the option to remove the director for purely political reasons. Finally, Mulvaney asked for more policing of the agency through the creation an inspector general’s office housed at the agency that would monitor the CFPB’s work.

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Congress must stabilize the ACA to stabilize small businesses

The Hill

It is undeniable that assaults on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will soon lead to massive spikes in health-care premiums, an outcome that will devastate America’s small businesses.

A recent analysis by California’s ACA marketplace, Covered California, estimates premiums would increase anywhere from 35 to 94 percent over the next three years mainly because Congress chose to eliminate the ACA’s individual mandate.

When these forecasts come true, it will be particularly harmful for small firms and self-employed business owners. After all, more than 3.7 million small-business employees are enrolled in the ACA marketplaces, and more than six in 10 ACA marketplace enrollees are small-business owners, self-employed or small-business employees.

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Curbing immigration means curbing job creation

The Hill

A week in which President Donald Trump ended protections for immigrants from El Salvador and rejected a bipartisan framework to restore Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) culminated in the president displaying shocking ignorance about why immigrants from certain countries seek a new life in the United States.

The answer to your question, Mr. President, is simple: Many of them come to the United States to realize their entrepreneurial dreams, which is why we must restore DACA.  

A report from the New American Economy Research Fund found immigrants owned nearly three million American businesses in 2014, employed almost six million people and produced more than $65 billion worth of income.

What’s more, immigrants from outside Europe had high rates of entrepreneurship or were self-employed in 2014: 19.1 percent of immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa were entrepreneurs, while 11.1 percent of Hispanic immigrants and 10.6 percent of Asian immigrants were self employed.

As lawmakers continue to negotiate the renewal of DACA and other immigration policies, it is essential that they recognize the importance of sensible immigration policies to our nation’s small business community and our economy as a whole.

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Chicago Small Businesses Need Better Lending Options

Huffington Post

This post was co-authored by Chicago City Treasurer Kurt A. Summers, Jr. and Brad McConnell, CEO of Accion serving Illinois & Northwest Indiana.

It’s difficult for most small businesses to obtain a loan. Just ask Margo Strotter, owner of Ain’t She Sweet Cafe, which now has two locations–one in Bronzeville and one in Beverly.

When Margo was starting out she was her own bank, but she knew that wasn’t a long-term solution to her capital needs so she eventually sought help from traditional lenders. Unfortunately, those institutions were either unwilling or unable to help Margo.

Then she had a breakthrough. While attending an event at the Urban League, Margo was put in touch with Accion, a lender that is committed to helping small businesses, particularly those in underserved communities. She ended up receiving two loans from Accion over the years: The first helped her get her business off the ground, the second came 10 years later and allowed her to expand to a second location.

In Chicagoland, there are a lot of Margos. In fact, the area is home to more than 230,000 small firms, making it the country’s third-largest small business hub. And yet, as big banks focus on big businesses, it has become harder and harder for Chicago’s small business owners and entrepreneurs to secure reasonable loans from responsible lenders.

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