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Small business priority: Economic relief not a new Supreme Court Justice

By Frank Knapp Jr.
Do leaders in Washington really know the needs of small businesses?
The answer is an unqualified “no” according to 81% of the respondents to a national survey conducted this summer by Small Business for America’s Future (SBAF).
One does not need to look any further for an example of this disconnect than the Senate moving at lighting speed to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Small businesses across this country are struggling to survive and closing permanently at an alarming rate. Yet Republican Senators are mainly focusing their time and energy before the Nov. 3 election on the Supreme Court. The watered-down stimulus bill they propose, which is not supported by either the President or the House, is just political cover for their top priority—filling the Court’s vacant seat.
In a recent survey of more than 1,500 small business owners, SBAF found that two-thirds believe it is more important for the future of our country for Congress to prioritize another economic relief package over Supreme Court hearings. That’s because electing a new justice will not save even one of the 15% of small business owners who said they won’t make it past October without more federal aid or the 34% who said that they won’t make it past the end of the year.
Electing a justice will not provide even one dollar to the COVID-19 unemployed so they can pay their rent, buy food, or spend it in the local economy, which would help struggling small businesses.
Electing a justice will not fund COVID-19 rapid testing, contact tracing or the research needed to develop a vaccine, all absolutely necessary to get the pandemic under control and return the economy to normal.
Senate Republican leadership, including my own Sen. Lindsey Graham who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary, does not seem to care about the health of our small business economy that is the lifeblood of our local communities.  As long as the stock market is doing well, they see no economic problem for America.
The rush to fill the Supreme Court vacancy has tremendous implications for the health of small business’s bottom line in another way as well.
The justice who President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans are eager to seat has a long track record of opposing Supreme Court decisions that have turned down legal efforts to kill the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  She is a perfect fit for a party that has tried to eliminate the ACA for the past 10 years.
The game plan is clear and the financial consequences will be dire for small business.
On Nov. 10, less than two weeks after the Senate will vote on Mr. Trump’s justice nominee, the Supreme Court is scheduled to take up a case that could end up declaring that the ACA is unconstitutional.
If that happens, more than 20 million people who have health insurance thanks to the ACA could lose their private or public health insurance. Additionally, the 130 million Americans with preexisting conditions and private health insurance face these stark possibilities:
• Their policies will not be renewed
• Their preexisting conditions will not be covered
• Their insurance premiums will skyrocket
And now the estimated almost 10% of Americans who have contracted COVID-19 will also be considered to have a preexisting condition even if they are asymptomatic.
With the ACA gone, small business owners will see double-digit premium increases if one of their employees has a preexisting condition.  All private health insurance premiums will quickly rise because the cost to hospitals for providing healthcare to the uninsured will be passed on to those with policies.
Once again, Senate Republicans are completely out of step with the needs of small business.
Small business owners know that this should not be the path forward for lowering healthcare costs. About 67% of small businesses want the ACA to be strengthened not killed according to an SBAF survey.
So, when the Senate votes later this month on the Supreme Court nomination, these Washington leaders will demonstrate twice that they absolutely do not know the needs of small businesses.
(Frank Knapp, Jr. is the Co-chair of Small Business for America’s Future and the CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.)