Congress Needs to Pass Legislation Allowing Small Business Health Plans (SBHPs)

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1 Congress Needs to Pass Legislation Allowing Small Business Health Plans (SBHPs) Senate Health Committee Chairman Enzi recently introduced S.1955 The Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2005, to lower health insurance costs by stimulating market reforms and promoting competition while allowing trade associations the ability to offer group insurance plans for employees. Chairman Enzi s bill would allow business and trade associations to band their members together (through SBHPs) and offer group health coverage on a national or statewide basis. The group plans are in direct response to runaway costs that are driving many employers and families from comprehensive health insurance. Since 2000, group premiums for family coverage have grown nearly 60 percent. The Senate should act and support Chairman Enzi s efforts to pass S SBHPs will provide more choice in the health insurance marketplace. Legislation currently under consideration will allow these groups to offer fully-insured plan options under a uniform set of rules across state lines. As a result, S.1955 will expand opportunities for insurance companies to serve small businesses. Small businesses have little buying power and few affordable options five or fewer insurers control at least three-quarters of the small group market in most states (GAO, 2002). This lack of competition is contributing to double-digit rate increases for small businesses and a rise in the number of employees who are uninsured. SBHPs will make health insurance more affordable for small business through reduced premiums. The National Federation of Independent Business has estimated that small businesses obtaining insurance through SBHPs should experience a savings of $450 to $1,250 per employee. Support Passage of SBHP Legislation!

2 Currency Manipulation is an Illegal Trade Subsidy! China and other Asian countries are manipulating the value of their currencies giving them an unfair advantage over U.S. products. The undervaluation of their currency results in an estimated 15 to 40 percent subsidy for their exports. Currency manipulation is an illegal trade subsidy. H.R the Chinese Currency Manipulation Act of 2005 carries the bipartisan support of more than 170 members of Congress. The measure allows currency manipulation to be countervailable. This gives domestic manufacturers the ability to begin to level the playing field across the international trade arena. Currency manipulation is creating an artificial marketplace that causes significant harm to U.S. domestic manufacturers specifically small and medium size businesses. Although the Administration has continued negotiations with China about moving to a market based currency, Hunter-Ryan is an appropriate step to apply the needed pressure in order to expedite a solution. Domestic manufactures should be afforded all means available under international agreements to force China to live up to its obligations. We encourage you to join the countless lawmakers in calling for a free and fair trade with China. Help Lead the Charge Against Chinese Currency Manipulation

3 Support Manufacturing Extension Partnerships (MEPs) MEPs, funded in part by the federal government, are a network of nation-wide centers that provide resources to small and medium sized manufacturers ranging from process improvements and worker training to business practices and applications of information technology. The Administration s budget includes $47million for MEPs for FY 2006, down from a $109 million operating budget in FY In FY 2002, MEPs served roughly 18,000 manufacturers who accounted for $2.8 billion in sales, $681 million in cost savings and 35,000 jobs as a result of their projects with MEP Centers that year. The federal government s return on its investment in MEPs is $4 in federal tax revenue for every $1 invested in the program according to the Department of Commerce. Senators and Members of Congress should contact Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Committee members in the House and Senate to urge them to appropriate $109 million in FY 2006 to help support manufacturers through MEPs. MEPs Help Domestic Manufacturers and Need Full Funding at $109 million

4 Give American Manufacturers a Voice in U.S. Policy Decisions Rep. Knollenberg has recently introduced a solution to provide U.S. industrial consumers a voice: The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act (AMCA), H.R. 4217, allows American manufacturing companies who consume raw materials to participate in cases before the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission. Under current U.S. law, industrial consumers such as small and medium sized manufacturing businesses are left out of the process when the government decides whether to place tariffs on vital raw materials, thereby restricting supply and artificially increasing prices. The Knollenberg bill fixes this problem by giving American manufacturers a seat at the table. H.R provides U.S. industrial consumers with full- interested party standing throughout the antidumping/countervailing duty (AD/CVD) process, while it also establishes that the International Trade Commission use an economic impact test to ensure that the decisions in the AD/CVD process do not result in greater harm than benefit to our American manufacturers. This solution resolves the issue of fundamental fairness for the more than 9 million domestic steel consuming company employees, while it also ensures sound economic policy. Currently, industrial or commercial users may provide comments in antidumping or countervailing duty proceedings, however, their participation is without real substance: (1) these persons do not have access under administrative protective orders to the confidential information that usually forms the basis of the determinations; and (2) these persons have no right to seek judicial review of adverse Commerce Department or International Trade Commission determinations. Foreign manufacturers may, and often do, decide to give up the U.S. market once their product becomes subject to an AD/CVD case, because their sales are subject to uncertain taxes. This leaves U.S. steel consumers without a competitive alternative, forcing them to move production offshore or close down. Not only are U.S. steel consumers directly and adversely affected by AD/CVD cases, they are often uniquely qualified to provide relevant information in such proceedings on issues such as quality, delivery times, unique specifications unavailable domestically, whether the U.S. industry is able to meet domestic demand, and the likely impact of the AD/CVD orders on U.S. demand for the subject merchandise. Under current procedures, domestic producers argue that the plight of their customers is irrelevant. But it is not irrelevant to the U.S. companies and their millions of workers that are put in jeopardy by protection that can be ill-advised, arbitrary or excessive. Grant Consumers Interested Party Status in AD/CVD Proceedings Co-Sponsor H.R. 4217!

5 Job Training and Advanced Technical Education is Critical to Saving Manufacturing in America Without a well-trained and skilled workforce, manufacturing in America cannot survive. As segments of the economy begin to improve, many companies are struggling to find qualified workers especially in the highly technical metalforming industry. According to the recently released Popkins Report requested by members of the National Association of Manufacturers, the combined number of science and engineering graduates in China and India (1 million) now dwarfs those in America (70,000). The declining number of Americans qualified for skilled positions is resulting in the exporting of American innovation and stifling economic growth. The U.S. manufacturing workforce is highly productive; yet, the perception that manufacturing employment is unstable and lacks job opportunities discourages new workers from pursuing career paths in manufacturing. Manufacturing continues to pay better than many other industries, and it employs 25 percent of scientists and related technicians and 40% of engineers and engineering technicians critical skill groups for the R&D process yet the sector is experiencing a growing shortage of skilled workers. U.S. Manufacturing Innovation at Risk, February Congress, the Administration, industry, and educational institutions should work together to develop a comprehensive strategy to ensure American companies continue manufacturing in America. Companies are already relocating facilities overseas in search of lower production costs; the lack of a qualified workforce will only expedite the exodus of American manufacturing. Washington Should Focus More Attention on Strengthening Our Workforce!

6 The Estate Tax Punishes Family-Owned Small Manufacturers Many companies manufacturing in America are small and medium sized family-owned businesses who are now becoming 3 rd and 4 th generation operations. As many of these companies seek to pass along the family business to their children, they face a debilitating obstacle the estate tax. The cost for small businesses to comply with the estate tax laws are roughly equal to the amount of money the tax generates for the government about $23 billion. As shown by a survey in upstate New York, average spending for tax planning (i.e. attorney/consultant fees, life insurance premiums, internal labor costs, etc.) by small-business owners can run nearly $125,000 per company over a fiveyear period (Survey of the Impact of the Federal Estate Tax on Family Business Employment Levels in Upstate New York, June 22, 1999). This is in addition to the burden of the tax itself. This tax punishes American families who have worked for generations to create a better life for their loved ones. Small, family-owned businesses are especially vulnerable to this unfair tax. Unlike corporate CEOs, most small-business owners have the entire value of their business in their estate. While heirs to a family business work to carry an enterprise to the next generation, the government immediately "inherits" a 37 to 55 percent bite of the estate, a blow that many small businesses cannot survive. The estate tax creates a disincentive to expand a business, create jobs, and far too often, literally taxes family businesses right out of the family. Vote to Save Family Businesses Manufacturing in America Solve the Estate Tax Crisis!

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