Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


By Don C Brunell
Pres. Assoc. Of Wa Business 

Economic landmines buried in federal legislation  


May 17, 2010

As legislators and others comb through the massive health-care reform law, they are finding little-known provisions that will have a big impact on the American people and our economy.

For example, tucked into the health-care law is a provision that imposes a 3.8 percent federal tax on the proceeds from the sale of your home. How is that related to health care? It’s not.

Sallie Mae, the company that processes student loan applications, just announced 2,500 layoffs because of a little-known provision in the health-care reform law that implements a government takeover of the student loan program. How is the student loan program related to health care? It’s not.

Another provision of the health-care law threatens to wreak havoc on small businesses and sole proprietors, individuals who single-handedly run their own businesses. It involves 1099s, the federal form business folks fill out when they pay someone other than employees more than $600. One copy goes to the person you paid, you keep a copy and the third copy goes to the IRS when you file your taxes. Designed to help the IRS track income paid to small independent contractors, the forms were not required for transactions with corporations and major retail outlets.

The health-care law changes that.

From now on, people engaged in business will have to fill out 1099 forms for any expenditure over $600. Buy a pickup truck for your landscaping business? Now you have to send a 1099 to the car dealer. Buy more than $600 in office supplies from Office Depot? Now you have to send a 1099 to Office Depot. Buy a computer for your office? 1099. Pay more than $600 a year to FedEx? 1099.

This new provision will bury small businesses and sole proprietors in mountains of paperwork and impose a costly new burden on American employers, just as they struggle to emerge from our crushing recession. And it will mean a major expansion of the Internal Revenue Service in order to process the millions of new 1099s that will flood into the IRS.

This provision of the health-care reform law is a mistake that should be repealed. Corporations already comply with thousands of financial reporting requirements. Burying their business customers in tons of paperwork is unnecessary.

These legislative landmines are not unique to the health-care legislation.

Part of last year’s $787 billion economic stimulus package was used to increase the maximum transit subsidy for federal workers from $120 per month to $230 per month. How does that create jobs? It doesn’t.

The current financial reform proposal being debated in Congress—portrayed as an attempt to rein in Wall Street—gives control of the Internet to the Federal Trade Commission. What does that have to do with Wall Street? Nothing.

In addition, the proposal would create a new federal Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. Sounds good until you realize that virtually every finance agreement in the United States, including car loans, will have to be reviewed and approved by the new federal bureaucracy.

The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights is six pages long. Even so, its meaning is litigated almost daily in our nation’s courts.

The health-care law is more than 2,000 pages long. The financial reform proposal is 1,300 pages long and growing. The small provisions tucked into massive federal legislation have real life consequences for struggling Americans. When legislative landmines are uncovered, lawmakers should act quickly to defuse them.

About the Author - Don Brunell is the president of the Association of Washington Business. Formed in 1904, the Association of Washington Business is Washington’s oldest and largest statewide business association, and includes more than 7,000 members representing 650,000 employees. AWB serves as both the state’s chamber of commerce and the manufacturing and technology association. While its membership includes major employers like Boeing, Microsoft and Weyerhaeuser, 90 percent of AWB members employ fewer than 100 people. More than half of AWB’s members employ fewer than 10. For more about AWB, visit


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