It's that special season that comes every four years when policy is in the air, political pundits are on the move, and campaign messages are penetrating each and every household. Election season is upon us once again, and it seems that at no time in recent history has an election been so captivating and so influential. Our country seems more divided than ever in the midst of our economic recovery, but one thing everyone can agree upon is that, either way the dice rolls, businesses and employees will be affected.
With the unemployment rate hovering at 7.8 percent, it's clear that many people, from recent graduates to "Joe the Plumber," need a little help in the job market. For those that are lucky enough to be gainfully employed, the uncertainty of the upcoming election will prove that, once again, large policies trickle down through the government, the economy, all the way to you and your employees.
In an effort to clear up some of the uncertainty, we examined the candidates' views on three prominent election issues -- health care, job creation, and taxes -- that will undoubtedly affect your business and your employees.
President Obama passed the Affordable Care Act, more commonly called "Obamacare", which will expand Medicaid and aim to insure about 17 million Americans. As more low-income Americans have insurance under the Act that provides access to care, hospitals and health centers will need to hire more workers -- voila, jobs are created, the economy gets a boost, and your business benefits. If elected, Obama will continue to support the Act and defend its legitimacy, not only offering healthcare to Americans in need (like your employees), but creating much-needed jobs.
Governor Romney has made it clear that, if elected, he plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. His argument, met with widespread Republican support, notes that Obamacare will raise costs to employers -- like you -- tremendously. Under Obamacare, companies have to purchase insurance for all full-time employees, with "full time" meaning 30 hours or more. In response, some businesses are cutting hours from workers in need to keep them as "part-time," avoiding health care costs. According to Romney's argument, your employees will either require insurance (at a cost to you), or need their hours cut -- a lose/lose situation if Obama is elected.
In Obama's term, he made marked strides toward creating jobs with two notable pieces of legislation: the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) and the American Jobs Act. The former, passed in 2012, encourages funding of small businesses by easing regulations, and the latter included a one-year extension of the payroll tax holiday and an extension of unemployment benefits. If re-elected, Obama will continue to push Congress to enact parts of this act that they refused to earlier, with a large focus on improving infrastructure, rebuilding schools, and, most importantly for you, cutting taxes on firms that hire.
Governor Romney has promised to create 12 million jobs in four years with a "7 plus 3 plus 2" calculation. What do these numbers mean for you and your employees? The numbers refer to the seven million jobs Romney proposes to create by lowering tax rates for the middle class and small business owners; the three million from his energy independence policy; and the two million more by "expanding trade, cracking down on China and improving job training." A nice proposition by Romney, yes, but it looks like you're in the clear either way: Moody's Analytics predicts that 12 million jobs will be created by 2016, no matter who is elected.
President Obama proposes to cut tax rates for those making more than $250,000 to the rates from when Bill Clinton was president as part of his larger plan to raise taxes on high-income people and to eliminate loopholes for the wealthy. The president has been largely unapologetic when it comes to his tax plan, but emphasizes that it is necessary to cut the federal deficit. He has, however, cut taxes for small businesses in 18 ways.
Romney has come under scrutiny during this campaign because of his seemingly vague answers on taxes. He proposes to cut federal income tax rates across the board by 20 percent -- the biggest changes to the tax code since Reagan. Twenty percent lower taxes? Sounds great for your employees, but not so much for decreasing the overwhelming deficit -- which could cause more problems for your business in the long run. Romney's promises sound good, but without more specifics, it's still a guessing game.
There is no right or wrong answer here -- if there were, the election wouldn't be so close! -- the fact is, every path leads back to one fundamental question: What will our next president do to boost the economy, and how will that affect you, your business, and your employees? To answer this question now, we can only look at the rhetoric laid out by these politicians and the facts on which that discussion is based. Use the information we've provided to make your own informed interpretations of each candidate's policy, and what it means for you.
Sudy Bharadwaj is a co-founder and the CEO of Jackalope Jobs, a platform that helps job seekers find a job via their social networks. Learn how Sudy and Jackalope Jobs obsess over job seekers by connecting with them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.