Conservative Media Bravely Defend Businesses' Right To Skirt Legal Obligations By Firing Workers

Blog ››› ››› MICHELLE LEUNG

Right-wing media jumped to defend businesses' right to game the system and fire employees merely to avoid the obligation of providing them with health insurance.

On February 10 the IRS announced that it would delay the health insurance employer mandate for medium-sized businesses employing between 50 and 99 people until 2016. Smaller businesses -- those with 49 employees or fewer -- are not required to provide all workers with health insurance. To prevent employers from simply firing workers in order to avoid the obligation to provide health coverage in the next couple years, the IRS included a safeguard: If these businesses fire workers, they must show they did so for "bona fide business reasons" in order to be eligible for the delayed mandate.

In other words, as Washington Post's Wonkblog explained, "'It's simply so they don't game the system,' one senior administration official told reporters on a phone call this afternoon. 'They have to certify they're not doing that and not dropping their coverage.'"

Preventing employers from firing workers merely in order to game the system may seem like common sense, but not to conservative media. Outlets like Fox News immediately lambasted the safeguard as "Orwellian," while The Wall Street Journal blamed the health care law for forcing businesses to fire employees:

Either Obamacare is ushering in a worker's paradise, in which case by the White House's own logic exempting businesses from its ministrations is harming employees. Or else the mandate really is leading business to cut back on hiring, hours and shifting workers to part-time as the evidence in the real economy suggests.

On the February 10 edition of Fox's The Kelly File, Fox News' Megyn Kelly scoffed at the idea that employers shouldn't be permitted to fire workers merely to avoid giving them health insurance:

KELLY: That is the government telling you, employers, 'you will not fire a single person, you will not lay off a single person if you want to take advantage of our gift, and you have to certify under penalty of perjury to the IRS that you didn't do that, that no layoff was due to Obamacare.'

[...]

Wow, so now, if a small business employer wants to lay off a person under pain of perjury he has to convince people at the IRS that he's not doing it because of Obamacare.

This attack is just another instance of right-wing media prioritizing business interests over the well-being of American workers when it comes to health care reform.

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