The ACA requires businesses with at least 50 or more full-time equivalent workers, meaning they clock at least 30 hours a week, to offer insurance to employees, giving smaller businesses with between 50 and 100 full-timers until 2016 to comply. If they opt not to comply, there is a penalty of $2,000 per worker, per year.
Tuscon, Arizona–based Shaffer Dry Cleaning & Laundry fell into that category with its nine locations and 52 full-time workers. By law, the company had to offer insurance to workers this year.
Owner Bake Shaffer said the law has burdened him and his wife. "It's a daunting task," he said. "Offering insurance has been the most impactful thing financially for us, but it's also created more work for me as small-business owner — maybe an hour and a half additional work on my part each week. There are a number of administrative things that require a lot of clerical work to do correctly."
What worries Shaffer most is the uncertainty surrounding what either candidate might do in office. Both partisan and non-partisan groups alike have spoken out on the lack of detail provided by both Clinton and Trump in terms of how they would help small businesses create more jobs. And political uncertainty, tracked by the NFIB, is at historic highs while optimism on Main Street has remained stagnant.
"I don't know what to anticipate," Shaffer said. "I can't plan, therefore I make my plans on worst-case scenarios. That is not the way to run a business."
Alfonso echoed that sentiment and would like to see more action from whoever makes it to the White House.
"Every politician wants to say small businesses are the backbone of America — we contribute to new jobs. They need to start acting like it and treating us like we are helping the economy, not hurting it."