By Ed Runyan
Republican Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel met with about 10 local business officials at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber offices Thursday to get a better understanding of issues they care about.
Not surprisingly, they mostly agreed that state and federal regulatory and taxing policies should be aimed to “get out of the way” of business.
Andreas Foerster, president of Starr Manufacturing in Vienna, led the charge in criticizing Obamacare, the 2010 federal heath-care law, primarily because of the cost to businesses but also because of the complexity of what they will be asked to do.
“I don’t think [any] of us is understanding it. I think the next big hurdle will be when the papers fly in front of us to figure out what do you fill out in this whole big disaster,” Foerster said.
Choosing a conservative number of a 30-percent increase in cost for companies such as his to meet the requirements of the law, Foerster said it will increase his company’s health-care bill from $40,000 per month to $52,000.
Foerster, originally from Germany, said he left his home country to “get away” from “this type of system.”
Mandel, 35, of Cleveland, who lost in his race against Sherrod Brown last year for U.S. Senate, said he opposes Obamacare, but the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the part that requires consumers to carry health insurance.
Something that everyone in the room agreed upon is the difficulty companies face today in trying to find employees who want to work and can pass a drug test.
“You know what the most annoying thing is? When they come in because they have to apply for jobs and you know they’re drunk or on drugs. You can smell it from 15 feet,” Foerster said.
“If you have a support system ... and you lose your job, I think it’s great to protect families so they don’t go into disaster. It doesn’t take the obligation away to find another job and take up work instead of saying, ‘I would rather go fishing or I would rather go party,’” he said.
Foerster said one man turned down a job at his factory because he could earn nearly as much on unemployment.
Mandel responded that he has heard articulate arguments for why “if you have to pass a drug test for employment, you should have to pass a drug test for unemployment ... or for welfare or other benefits.”
He said the idea is getting some attention in Florida, and “I think you’re going to see that discussion more and more throughout the country.”
Tom Humphries, president of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, estimated that 20 percent of the 40 meetings he attends per week involve someone bringing up the topic of drug testing.