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    Fatburger, Obamacare, and Responsibility

    07/09/2013

    In Obama’s America, responsibility is not a virtue. In fact, those who act responsibly routinely get the short end of the stick. Why would anyone play by the rules when the safety net is better than playing by the rules in the first place? The latest victim of this culture are the companies who, wisely, have begun the process of implementing the changes necessary for Obamacare compliance.

    With Obamacare set to kick in within the next year, responsible business owners had begun putting plans in motion to comply with the regulations imposed on them. Then, citing difficulties with the burdesome law, implementation was pushed back. Now, these same business owners find themselves being punished for preparedness, wasting valuable time, money and resources to comply with a law that will now be delayed. 

    One such business is Fatburger. For companies like theirs who have more than 50 full-time employees, the Affordable Care Act requires that they offer health insurance or face heavy fines.  The cost of offering health insurance is steep, and in order to offset some of these costs, Fatburger began to reduce workers hours to 30 hours per week in order to avoid massive layoffs.  To lessen the pain of a smaller paycheck and fewer hours, Fatburger even set up job sharing opportunities for affected employees. In that program, employees can work 25 hours for Fatburger and 25 hours for another business, or even a Fatburger owned by another franchisee. 

    "All it's doing is causing confusion, anxiety and the workers are paying the price," Fatburger CEO Andy Wiederhorn said. "Now, the mandate's a moving target. It's very, very challenging."

    He is already out $30,000 thanks to Obamacare. Due to projected health insurance costs, Wiederhorn reduced the royalty fees charged to franchisees in order to defray some of the cost for other owners. Now, it turns out, that was unnecessary.

    "I'm definitely getting the short end of the stick," Weiderhorn said. "We gave them the concession to save the jobs. And now the law's been delayed. We feel like we have whiplash here."

    America was built on personal responsibility and preparedness, values which made us an incredible nation. Now, these very values are being punished while those who just skate by are rewarded and even encouraged. The delays will not help individuals, in fact, delaying this mandate will likely push more employers to dump workers into state exchanges.  One can't help but wonder if this is gross negligence on behalf of our government or planned failure. Either way, commerce is negatively affected and workers most of all will pay the price.