Obama and the "Patriot Employer"

As mentioned in the updates to this earlier post, the Obama transition web site has, at least temporarily, purged out all the real content they had up about specific programs and legislative goals.  So, as a public service, I will help fill this information gap by re-posting an article I wrote about 9 months ago on the "Patriot Employer Act" sponsored by Barack Obama and likely a kernel for early 2009 legislative action:

Posted 2/13/2008:

It turns out, according to Barack Obama, (who hales from the party that doesn't believe in questioning anyone's patriotism) that I am not a "Patriot Employer." This is from the text of Senate Bill S. 1945 of which he is a co-sponsor (My snark is interspersed in italics): Patriot Employers are to be given tax breaks over unpatriotic employers (I presume this means that their tax rates will be raised less in an Obama presidency than those of other folks) with "patriot employers" defined as such:

(b) Patriot Employer- For purposes of subsection (a), the term`Patriot employer' means, with respect to any taxable year, any taxpayer which-

`(1) maintains its headquarters in the United States if the taxpayer has ever been headquartered in the United States,

OK, I guess I can comply with this. Though I am not sure the best way to begin an Obama "kindler gentler foreign policy" is to tell the nations of the world that we will be taxing their company's income in the US at a higher rate than our own companies.

`(2) pays at least 60 percent of each employee's health care premiums,

So the #1 determinant of patriotism is not commitment to individual rights but paying 60% of employee health care costs. I guess I am so unpatriotic

And, just from a practical standpoint, 90% of my employees are seasonal, hired for about 4 months of the year. To be patriotic, I have to pay their health care costs all year long? Also, since most of my employees are retired, they are on Medicare or an employee retirement medical plan. If they pay $0 in premiums and I pay $0 of that, do I get credit for 60%? Maybe the government can mandate a solution for zero divided by zero, like they did for the value of pi years ago

`(3) has in effect, and operates in accordance with, a policy requiring neutrality in employee organizing drives,

I presume neutrality means that in a hypothetical union drive, I do not express my opinion (and likely opposition) to said unionization drive? I am told that this also entails allowing card checks rather than hidden ballot voting. In other words, patriotism is being defined here as 1) giving up your free speech rights and 2) opposing hidden ballot voting. Uh, right. Besides, if a union organized our company, as unlikely as that would be, I would probably have to do a Francisco d'Anconia on the place.

`(4) if such taxpayer employs at least 50 employees on average during the taxable year-

`(A) maintains or increases the number of full-time workers in the United States relative to the number of full-time workers outside of the United States,

In other words, we don't want American companies growing overseas. This could also be called the "give up international market share act." This implies that it is unpatriotic for US-based Exxon to explore for oil in Asia and that it is more patriotic to let the Chinese national oil company do it. This implies that it is more patriotic for Coke to lose market share in Germany than to gain it. This means that it is more patriotic for Mattel to buy its toys in China from Chinese companies rather than run the factories themselves (and thereby be accountable themselves for product quality and working conditions).

This is beyond stupid. We LIKE to see US companies doing well overseas. If we have to import our raw materials, we feel more comfortable if it is US companies doing the extraction. Don't we? In the name of patriotism, do we really want to root for our domestic companies to fail in international markets?

`(B) compensates each employee of the taxpayer at an hourly rate (or equivalent thereof) not less than an amount equal to the Federal poverty level for a family of three for the calendar year in which the taxable year begins divided by 2,080,

90% of my workers are retired. They work for me to supplement their income, to live our in nature, and to stay busy. They need me to pay them based on the poverty line for a family of three, why? I will tell you right now that if I had to raise wages this much, most of my employees would quit. Many of them force me to give them fewer hours so they can stay under the social security limits for income. I discussed what rising minimum wages often force me to do here, but just as an illustration, a $1 an hour across the board wage increase would easily wipe out all the money I make in a year and put me into a loss position. In which case the lowered tax rate would not do me much good anyway.

`(C) provides either-

`(i) a defined contribution plan which for any plan year-

`(I) requires the employer to make nonelective contributions of at least 5 percent of compensation for each employee who is not a highly compensated employee, or

`(II) requires the employer to make matching contributions of 100 percent of the elective contributions of each employee who is not a highly compensated employee to the extent such contributions do not exceed the percentage specified by the plan (not less than 5 percent) of the employee's compensation, or

`(ii) a defined benefit plan which for any plan year requires the employer to make contributions on behalf of each employee who is not a highly compensated employee in an amount which will provide an accrued benefit under the plan for the plan year which is not less than 5 percent of the employee's compensation, and

Uh, I am not sure why it is unpatriotic for an employee to save for themselves, but I think 401k plans are a nice benefit. I would certainly offer one except for one tiny fact - ALL MY EMPLOYEES ARE ALREADY RETIRED!! They are over 65. They are drawing down on their retirement, not contributing to it.

This is at the heart of the problem with all US labor law. Folks up in Illinois write laws with a picture of a steel mill in mind, and forget that employment and employees have infinite variations in circumstances and goals.

So I am unpatriotic, huh. But if forcing companies to contribute to emplee retirement plans is patriotic, why is hiring folks once they are retired to give them extra income in retirement unpatriotic? In fact, maybe I could argue that 100% of the wages I pay go to retirement spending

`(D) provides full differential salary and insurance benefits for all National Guard and Reserve employees who are called for active duty, and

In other words, we of the government are not going to pay our employees (ie reservists on active duty) what they are worth and are not going to give them benefits, so to be patriotic you need to do it for us. We in Congress are not really very patriotic and don't support the troops, so you need to do it for us.

All kidding aside, I would do this in my company if it was applicable, but I really resent being piously told to do so by several Senators who don't really model this behavior themselves.

`(5) if such taxpayer employs less than 50 employees on average during the taxable year, either-...

blah, blah. Basically the same stuff repeated, though slightly less onerous.

Since when did patriotism equate to "rolling over to the latest AFL-CIO wish list?"


  1. L Nettles:

    Since when did patriotism equate to "rolling over to the latest AFL-CIO wish list?"

    um, since 11/04/08.

  2. eddie:

    His name is spelled "Barack", not "Barrack".

    Barracks are living quarters for personnel on a military post.

  3. Josh:

    hales from

    hails from, please.

  4. Dr. T:

    And who says Obama isn't a socialist? This is socialism by regulation and taxation rather than direct government takeover of domestic businesses. Obama is dumber than any lawyer I've met if he believes this will be good for our country. Personally, I believe that he isn't that dumb. I believe he hates our nation more than his wife does (and hates whites just as much as Reverend Wright), and that his main goal as president will be to severely damage our nation economically while hiding behind the cloak of helping the poor. Perhaps he's not as evil as I believe; we'll find out all too soon.

  5. John Moore:

    Clearly you are unpatriotic scum. I'm sure the rest of us will end up in that category somehow. Let's see... I've saved for my retirement. That's probably unpatriotic, since I won't be getting it from a union fund. Hmmm...