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Left Turn: ObamaCare Still Hurting Working Families

Education & the Workforce Committee - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 12:00am
WASHINGTON, D.C. Billions of dollars wasted on a flawed website. Numerous unilateral actions and administrative delays. And a lot of happy talk. No matter how hard the Obama administration tries, it can’t shield Americans from the devastating consequences of the president’s unpopular health care law. In fact, a new wave of cancellation notices will alert thousands of Americans that the health care plan they like is no longer available – despite the president’s repeated promises to the contrary. As Fox News reports:

More than a dozen states plan to cancel health care policies not in compliance with ObamaCare in the coming weeks, affecting thousands of people just before the midterm elections.

"It looks like several hundred thousand people across the country will receive notices in the coming days and weeks," said Jim Capretta of the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

The policies are being canceled because states that initially granted a reprieve at the request of President Obama are no longer willing to do so.

In coming weeks, 13 states and the District of Columbia plan to cancel such policies, which generally fall out of compliance with the Affordable Care Act because they don’t offer the level of coverage the law requires ...

Many of those forced out of their current plans and into ObamaCare may not be able to keep their doctors. They also could face higher deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses, making ObamaCare an election issue on the eve of voting.

Obama had originally unequivocally promised that under his health care plan, everyone could keep their doctors and plans.

Remarkably, cancellation notices aren’t the only ObamaCare problem plaguing working families. In recent weeks, press reports have also highlighted:

Reduced Hours for Workers

The clock is ticking for Tommy Cain and thousands of other U.S. employers facing deadlines to make changes to the health insurance they offer their employees under the Affordable Care Act … Business owners are considering trimming their head counts below the 50 full-time-worker cutoff or reducing their workers' hours rather than comply with the requirement, which begins in January for companies with 100 or more employees. – Wall Street Journal, “Bosses face Affordable Care Act deadline

Dropped Coverage for Part-Timers

Wal-Mart told The Associated Press that starting Jan. 1, it will no longer offer health insurance to employees who work less than an average of 30 hours a week. The move affects 30,000 employees … but comes after the company already had scaled back the number of part-time workers who were eligible for health insurance coverage since 2011. The announcement follows similar decisions by Target, Home Depot and others to completely eliminate health insurance benefits for part-time employees. – Associated Press, “Wal-Mart Cut Health Benefits for Some Part-Timers

Fewer Jobs

The economy's weakness itself has been exacerbated by the negative impact of new taxes and regulations under ObamaCare. According to Congressional Budget Office estimates, the new health-care law will levy more than $500 billion in new taxes over its first 10 years to help pay for insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion… As a result, small and large U.S. health-care technology companies are moving R&D centers and jobs overseas. – Wall Street Journal, “ObamaCare's Anti-Innovation Effect

Ongoing Threats to Privacy

According to the Government Accountability Office report, “weaknesses [remain] in the security and privacy protections applied to HealthCare.gov and its supporting systems ... Collectively, these weaknesses put HealthCare.gov systems and the information they contain at increased and unnecessary risk of unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification or loss. – Fox News, “HealthCare.gov still has security issues

The president’s health care law is hurting working families. Job creators, workers, and families deserve a health care system that works for them, not against them. That is why, as Speaker Boehner has noted, “Republicans remain committed to repealing the law and replacing it with solutions that will lower health care costs and protect American jobs.”

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Eleventh Circuit Ruling a Welcome Judicial Pushback against Criminal Enforcement of Regulations

WLF Legal Pulse - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 11:00am
On a balmy late August day in Orlando, Florida, nearly a dozen Orange County police officers, some dressed in ballistic vests and masked helmets, swept into Strictly Skillz barbershop with their guns drawn. As their colleagues blocked off the parking lot entrances and exits, the officers declared that the shop was closed and ordered its […]
Categories: Latest News

Extended Comment Period- Waters of the United States

Office of Advocacy - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 9:37am

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have extended the comment period for the proposed rule defining the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  This proposal would set forth several categories of waters to be included in the definition as well as establish waters that are subject to the act.  The comment period now closes November 14, 2014 .

Categories: Latest News, SBA Advocate

Rockefeller Statement on Major Cramming Settlement Between AT&T, FTC, FCC, and 51 Attorneys General

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, released the following statement after the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Attorneys General of all 50 states and the District of Columbia announced that they had reached a settlement with AT&T over the billing practice known as cramming.

“Today’s wireless cramming settlement speaks volumes about the diligent and determined work of the FTC, FCC, and Attorneys General around the country to co...

Rep. Graves Challenges Koskinen On ‘Complicated'ACA Forms for Small Business

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:00am

Bloomberg BNA: House Republican Challenges IRS on Complicated ACA Forms
October 8, 2014 

Small businesses and their tax preparers face the daunting tasks of understanding and completing new tax forms to comply with provisions of the Affordable Care Act, the chairman of the House Small Business Committee said.

“Most small businesses do not have tax advisors, attorneys or accountants on their staff. They must rely on outside assistance to navigate these complicated tax rules,” Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) said in an Oct. 8 letter to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Graves asked Koskinen to respond by Oct. 22 on whether the Internal Revenue Service is working with the Department of Health and Human Services to educate small business owners about the forms and issues, and what the IRS is doing to listen to the concerns of owners and tax preparers.

Tax preparers have told the committee the IRS hasn't issued guidance on the due-diligence requirement they will face, he said.

Exemption Questions

In his letter, Graves referred to Form 8965, Health Coverage Exemptions, which is used to claim an exemption from the individual health insurance mandate. A draft of the form has “15 pages of complicated forms, instructions and worksheets,” which “millions of small business owners may be forced to rely on to determine if they are entitled to an exemption and to claim it,” he said.

Graves also referred to Form 8962, Premium Tax Credit (PTC), which involves 12 pages of instructions and worksheets. The form is used to calculate the tax credit amount for qualified health plans purchased through a health insurance marketplace.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the individual mandate penalty may apply to 30 million people, of which 23 million may qualify for an exemption, Graves said.

The forms mention exemptions but “do not explain when taxpayers must apply for them, when or how that decision will be communicated, what appeals process will be used, and how long the exemption will be effective,” he wrote.

The IRS released draft instructions for Forms 8962 and 8965 in September (183 DTR G-2, 9/22/14).

Tax Tips

Separately, the IRS reminded small employers about the value of the health care tax credit that begins in 2014.

“The maximum credit is 50 percent of premiums paid for small business employers, and 35 percent of premiums paid for tax-exempt small employers, such as charities,” the IRS said in an e-newsletter released Oct. 8.

The e-newsletter explains eligibility requirements and benefits and provides links to resources for more information.

Bloomberg BNA: House Republican Challenges IRS on Complicated ACA Forms

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:00am

Bloomberg BNA: House Republican Challenges IRS on Complicated ACA Forms
By Brett Fergusen
October 8, 2014 

Oct. 8 (BNA) - Draft forms and instructions for compliance with the Affordable Care Act are long and confusing, presenting tax preparers for small businesses with daunting new tasks, the chairman of the House Small Business Committee told IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) asked for an accounting by Oct. 22 of what the tax agency is doing to help. In an Oct. 8 letter, Graves referred to Internal Revenue Service Form 8965 for claiming an exemption from the individual health insurance mandate. A draft of the form has “15 pages of complicated forms, instructions and worksheets,” which “millions of small business owners may be forced to rely on,” he said. Graves also referred to Form 8962 for claiming a premium tax credit, which involves 12 pages of worksheets and instructions.
Tax preparers have told the committee that the IRS hasn't issued guidance on the due diligence requirement they will face, according to Graves, who asked Koskinen whether the IRS was working with the Department of Health and Human Services to educate small business owners about the forms and issues, and what the IRS is doing to listen to the concerns.

Graves Presses IRS About New Obamacare Small Business Forms

House Small Business Committee News - Wed, 10/08/2014 - 12:00am
House Small Business Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-MO) today pressed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to address the complexity of the agency’s recently released Obamacare compliance forms for small businesses, and asked what is being done to educate and help small businesses with these requirements.

 “In mid-September, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) published numerous draft forms and instructions for compliance with the tax provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  These documents are lengthy, complex and confusing to tax preparers who serve America’s small businesses,” the letter states.

The letter from Chairman Graves specifically inquires about two complicated and lengthy forms that millions of small businesses may encounter for the first time in tax preparations.  Form 8965 is required for those claiming an exemption, and includes 15 pages of forms, instructions and worksheets.

“As you know, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 30 million people could be subject to the individual mandate penalty, and 23 million of them may qualify for an exemption.   This means that millions of small business owners may be forced to rely on these forms and instructions to determine whether they are entitled to an exemption and to claim it,” Graves states in the letter. “In addition, we are told that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will issue some or all of the hardship exemptions.   The forms mention those exemptions and that HHS or the exchanges will issue them, but do not explain when taxpayers must apply for them, when or how that decision will be communicated, what appeals process will be used, and how long the exemption will be effective.”

Similarly, Form 8962, which is required for taxpayers who wish to claim a premium tax credit, is 12 pages of forms, worksheets and instructions.  

Graves concluded, “Most small businesses do not have tax advisors, attorneys or accountants on their staff.  They must rely on outside assistance to navigate these complicated tax rules.  On all of the above issues, is the IRS working with HHS to educate small business owners about these new forms and issues?   What steps has the IRS undertaken to listen to the concerns of small business owners and their tax preparers?”

In his letter, Graves requests a response by October 22, 2014, to allow small businesses the necessary time for tax preparations. The full Graves letter to the IRS is available HERE.


WCOE Midwestern Regional Conference Held in Chicago

WCOE News - Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:47am

Women construction owners, executives and supporters gathered in Chicago October 3rd and 4th for the Midwestern Regional Conference held at the Fairmont Hotel.  The conference, hosted by the WCOE Chicago Caucus featured speakers and panelists ranging from construction company executives, industry-related professionals and politicians.

Awards were presented to several attendees for their contribution in supporting women in construction.  Kate Cloonen, Illinois 79th District Representative and Director, JK Steel Erectors, Inc. in Bonfield, IL was presented with the Outstanding Political Leadership Award.  Ms. Cloonen stressed the importance of advocating for women in construction in Washington D.C.

Toni Preckwinkle, President, Cook County Board of Commissioners spoke about the importance of bringing together industry leaders, politicians and economic advisors to create a partnership to allow the Chicagoland region to compete in the global market.  More information about this plan is available at www.connectingcookcounty.org.

The award for outstanding project was presented to Michael Quirk of Mortenson Construction for contracting with WBEs for a total of $110 million on the Viking Stadium project.  The outstanding company award was presented to Robert Zitek of F. H. Paschen, S. N. Nielsen & Associates, General Contractors in Chicago, IL.

Jim Reilly, CEO of Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority presented an overview of the McCormick Place Entertainment District Project in Chicago.  The aggressive plan will bring additional hotel rooms and a general session space with seating for 10,000.  The site will welcome tradeshows and create a lively entertainment district that will compete with Las Vegas and Orlando in the tradeshow market.  Construction costs will be $1.2 billion and when complete, the project is estimated to create 970 jobs.

Danette Beck, Sr. V.P., Marsh Risk & Insurance Services and WCOE, USA Board Member, spoke about understanding risk management and the importance of developing a relationship with one’s insurance company to create a business partnership. Steven Coombs, President, Risk Resources, spoke about the importance of finding the right broker.

Deborah Wilder, Owner and President, Contractor Compliance and Monitoring, Inc. and WCOE, USA Board Member spoke about the importance of understanding the Legislative issues facing Women owned businesses.  She outlined several of the current legislative issues facing women in the construction industry and encouraged attendees to look at how construction fits in the WOSB program.

Categories: Latest News

Monday Morning Mojo: It’s a Messy Life

InteroMojo - Mon, 10/06/2014 - 7:30am

My life is a mess. Yep…MY life. Heck, everyone’s life is a mess…that’s life. My question to you is: are you constantly working on cleaning up and “dialing it in” or are you living in your own personal pigsty?

Whenever I talk with people about getting better and winning in any area of life, I remind them that we are all screwed up…we are all a mess. So don’t beat yourself up, and don’t stop moving forward if things aren’t going the way you want…no one is perfect. You need to be committed every day to improving…committed to cleaning up your mess. You can’t be satisfied with the status quo and just accept what life deals you. Life is complicated and can deal you some pretty crappy cards. I see so many people who just wallow in the self-pity of the hand they are dealt. It takes constant attention and hard work.

Metaphorically, imagine you are living in your home, and you never run the vacuum, do the dishes, do the laundry, scrub the bathrooms, mow the lawns…you never clean up. Of course your house will become a filthy pigsty if you don’t maintain it.

Well, life works exactly the same way…no matter how dialed in you think you are, things get messy and you need to constantly be cleaning them up…your job, your relationships, your finances, your health, etc. If you don’t stay on top of stuff and aren’t constantly cleaning up, over time, the mess gets so out of control that you become too overwhelmed and throw your hands in the air. This is not a winning formula, and unfortunately this is what I see a lot of people doing.

So, how do we clean things up…how do we get dialed in to win and stay there? The first thing is to admit to ourselves that things are never going to be perfect. Every day for our entire lives, we must be committed to cleaning up while scrapping and clawing to move forward. We have to accept that there will be hurdles and obstacles along the way. There will be people and situations constantly attempting to throw their mess on us. We simply cannot accept it…we have to clean it up and move forward.

Here is the challenge. First, accept that life is messy and hard. Second, don’t let that stop you. Finally, be committed every day to clean up and get better…EVERYDAY!


Categories: Latest News

Weekend Wellness: Autumn

InteroMojo - Sat, 10/04/2014 - 9:00am

Crazy weather out right now. It’s nippy at night, hot during the day, then snowing in some regions! Yes, it’s the turn of the season and it’s Fall…nature is letting us know change is coming.

The most obvious change that I notice is that of the leaves on the trees. To me, this symbolizes “letting go”. Many trees have vibrant fresh leaves from Spring through Autumn, then the leaves change colors and fall to the ground. It sounds a little sad writing this, but truly the ritual is so that the tree (or flower) can get ready for something new in a few months’ time; something the plant needs. New growth.

How about you? Is it time for you to let go of something which might have been really great for you a few months ago, but no longer serves you in the same way? Is it time for you to “shed” something no longer necessary so you can make room for something new?

What in your life is taking up space in your head, your body, or your soul that truly would be best left behind? What in your life do you need to make room for but there’s too much clutter to invite it in?

Do you need a new nutrition plan? Are you done with your cycling season and ready to get back to the gym and do functional training? Or, on a deeper level, are you holding on to some anger, some “story” of what’s holding you back so you can’t “grow new leaves”?

We all have a little something in our life which need rebirth and sprucing up. Take a pause this week while you look at the message nature is handing us and relate it to your life. What can you let go of in order to make way for something new, exciting, vibrant and new?

Categories: Latest News

Cool Apps: Stunning Presentations with Sway

InteroMojo - Fri, 10/03/2014 - 9:00am

Today we’re bringing you the newest member of the Microsoft’s Office family. Sway, which is the company’s first Microsoft Office program in 10 years, was just released on Wednesday. The program allows users to create slick-looking presentations that can be viewed on any web browser or device.

I know what you’re thinking, “but I already have PowerPoint for that and it works just fine.” I’m telling you right now, the second you see a glimpse of a Sway presentation, you’ll never want to go back. You’ll be using it for everything from listing presentations to thank you notes, that’s right, thank you notes. It’s that simple.

One of the coolest things I found with Sway was that as your building your presentation, Sway automatically arranges your images and text boxes maintaining a presentation-ready format. You could be working on it in the car right before your appointment and even if you don’t get everything completed, as soon as you’re ready, your presentation looks ready too. It even gives you suggestions of a format and color to use based on the images you’ve added and allows you to search online straight from its interface giving you instant resources to vamp up your presentation. You have to check out the video below to see a bit more about how suave Sway really is.

Click here to play

As you can see the whole system is super simple and sleek and it’s not even on the market yet. That’s right, we’re bringing it to you before anyone else. Sign up to check out Sway Microsoft in “preview” mode HERE.

Categories: Latest News

Profit, Not Ideology, Motivates Cyberlockers that Facilitate Copyright Infringement

WLF Legal Pulse - Thu, 10/02/2014 - 12:19pm
“Information wants to be free” is a standard rejoinder to criticism of online entertainment piracy. Such a sentiment may motivate some copyright thieves, but profit, not ideology, drives the proprietors of “cyberlockers” whose business is trafficking pirated entertainment content. A recent study by the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA)—”Behind the Cyberlocker Door“— has laid bare that […]
Categories: Latest News

Thursday’s Thoughts on Leadership: A Source of Inspiration

InteroMojo - Thu, 10/02/2014 - 9:00am

“Who are you?” Celia, an employee at The Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, asked me this morning as I made my way through the lobby.

“I’m here attending Summit Conference,” I told her.

“But what do you do?” she inquired, unsatisfied with my response.

“I’m the incoming CEO.”

“Ah!” she exclaimed. “I knew it!” Celia smiled at me and I smiled back, adding a few friendly nods before I continued toward my room. On my way back across the lobby, Celia was still there and stopped me again.

“How old do you think I am?” she asked.

“Seventy five?”

She shook her head, delighted to reveal her age. “I’m 91!” Celia said, beaming.

I was thoroughly shocked. “Wow! How do you do it?” I wanted to know more.

“I always have a positive attitude,” she explained and the answer struck me as both powerful and profound. “And,” she added, “I could tell you have one, too.”

I walked back to Summit Conference feeling renewed and inspired by a woman with almost a century’s worth of wisdom, who some people passed by without even a wave.

Categories: Latest News


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