ELKHART — Northern Indiana business operators are nervous, according to U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski.
Their concerns fall in three broad areas, she said Tuesday, April 30, during a stop here. They’re worried about the upshot of the Affordable Care Act, the U.S. deficit and President Obama’s contention that new taxes should be part of any new U.S. budget plan.
Walorski is on a two-day trip through the 2nd Congressional District to meet with small business operators. She reported the concerns after meeting with a local contingent of about 15 at the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce.
“Until we can bring some certainty to those three areas, it’s going to be difficult for companies to feel comfortable to expand and spend money,” said Walorski, a Republican from the Jimtown area.
The Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care initiative, has long been a source of jitters to many business owners worried about the potential cost.
There was discussion last week about possible “delays” in the continuing rollout of the various prongs of the health care initiative, also known as Obamacare, Walorski said. That creates more uncertainty among business operators, and, on the flip side, increased potential to repeal the medical device tax, the new 2.3 percent tax outlined in Obamacare that took effect Jan. 1.
Many in the orthopedic industry in northern Indiana worry the cost from the tax will hinder their ability to expand and hire, and the House has passed a bill, backed by Walorski, calling for its repeal. The U.S. Senate passed a non-binding resolution expressing support for repeal, and Walorski senses “openness” among lawmakers to act, possibly in the next two months.
“There may be a little bit of leeway to have conversations at the federal level about some of these pieces,” Walorski said. “I’m optimistic there’s going to be a chance to repeal it.”
THE BUDGET, GUNS
Walorski also touched on the federal budget, saying talks to reconcile the varied spending plans should occur over the summer.
The GOP-led U.S. House crafted a plan, backed by Walorski, that would lead to a balanced budget in 10 years through spending cuts. The Democrat-led U.S. Senate and President Obama also put forth proposals — which Walorski opposes — that contain a mix of spending cuts and new taxes.
Despite the differences in the plans, Walorski sees room to negotiate. Much, though, will depend on Obama.
“I think there’s a willingness on the House and the Senate side to find common ground,” Walorski said. “But I think this will come down to what kind of leadership the president decides to show, whether he’s willing to come off his desire for more taxes and if he’s really willing to come up with a plan that the American people want.”
Walorski appeared Sunday at a gun rights rally in South Bend, and she reiterated her support Tuesday for the Second Amendment right to bear arms. A measure calling for expanded background checks of gun buyers recently stalled in the U.S. Senate, and the issue has been a point of increased debate in Washington, though no measures are pending in the U.S. House.
“I’ll certainly be engaged if we have bills on the House side. But nothing is alive on the House side and I’m not sure what’s coming from the Senate side,” Walorski said.
When asked, she didn’t respond specifically to the notion of expanded background checks on gun buyers, as debated in the U.S. Senate. Rather, it’s a matter, at least in part, of examining the sort of resources put toward dealing with the mentally ill and dealing with “a culture of violence,” she said.