Why do individual businesses champion green causes and work-family accommodations while the Chamber of Commerce fights government action on these issues?  Is the Affordable Care Act “bad” for business? 

Note that the Business Alliance for Local Liveable Economies is much more supportive of environmental regulation than the Chamber.

Individual businesses these days are striving to become a part of global corporate citizenship and raise their voices and fight for social causes. Not only for the sake of humanity but for the betterment of environment too. They are championing green causes and try to protect labor rights by working on accommodating their employees’ work-to-family time adjustments because they want to portray a better image of themselves. As they know that people all over the world have become socially more aware and responsible. Their behavior towards the protection of not just the human rights but the ecosystem has become increasingly more sensitive over the years. Hence, it becomes a tacit in fact in most of the cases explicit binding (where businesses have a formalized code of conduct prepared for such matters) on individual businesses to act more socially responsible. They know if they won’t work for green causes and work-family time accommodations of labor, they might be able to earn higher profits in the short-run (by avoiding costs associated with labor benefits and environmental regulations) but in the long-run it will only cost them in the form of reduced customers and sales, and probably a boycott by the consumers in extreme cases.

However, on the contrary, the actions and agenda of US Chamber of Commerce is a total opposite of what businesses do at an individual level. The Chamber of Commerce, which is a group or coalition of businesses of all sizes, works for the protection of business rights and to voice their grievance to the Federal government. The agenda or purpose of this alliance is to cushion businesses’ interests from any government actions, regulations or acts that may seem to cause any sort of hindrance on the way of achieving their primary goal of profit maximization.

This is the dilemma or you can say double game of businesses. While they strive to work ‘for’ the society, at the same time they raise their voices ‘against’ the actions taken by government for the benefit of the society.

Apparently, the Affordable Care Act seems to be against the businesses especially small businesses, because the Act requires them to pay higher taxes and more stringent policies to meet the health insurance coverage of their employees which raises their costs of operations by a significant amount. However, if we look deeply into it, it might actually help businesses in attaining long term gains in the form of improved labor productivity, higher output and higher profits. This can happen because the Act provides the Medicaid coverage to employees and gives them the right to control their insurance policy as per their choice and provides them a wider range of benefits and protection in their health care. This would mean healthier employees. A healthy and mentally relaxed workforce can bring in immense amount of monetary and non-monetary benefits to the firm.

Moreover, this Act can give a boost to the entrepreneurship and the setting up of new small businesses as now talented and skilled employees can afford to quit their jobs to which they had stuck primarily for the sake of employer-sponsored insurance benefits. As the ACA gives the employees the right to sign up for their health insurance coverage through the exchange, the potential employer can escape the job lock (the situation when a person cannot leave his current position due to the fear of losing the benefits provided by the employer which are otherwise expensive to afford).