Next Tuesday is the deadline for signing up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, so the high-dudgeon fuckery is in full-tilt to try to depress the numbers and discredit the law so President Trump can just toss the whole thing in the shitcan in 2017 and deport all the sick people. Thus, as part of this Republican effort, Tennessee Congresswoman Diane Black took to the floor of the House of Representatives to say that the longtime Nashville restaurant Noshville was closing its midtown location, where it originated, because its owner said he couldn’t afford the coming requirement to provide health insurance for his employees.
Now, the Rude Pundit has eaten at Noshville more than a few times. It’s one of those places where some poor bastard wants to give the yokels a taste of New York City, so it had passable bagels, a decent Reuben, and other stuff that pale in comparison to a hundred different delis and bagel joints up here, but, hey, when you’re in Nashville and you needed to get salami and eggs? Well, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed pig is king.
So he started to look into the story because, frankly, the story didn’t sound right. Oh, sure, Noshville owner Tom Loventhal released a statement where he said, “[T]he rising cost of insurance premiums and government requirements related to the Affordable Care Act have made it no longer possible to run the business without taking an unacceptable risk. The administrative time and costs of managing mandated health insurance in the restaurant industry create an untenable burden, and that’s before the cost of premiums. We knew this was coming and I’ve been studying it since it was first announced, but I have not been able to find a viable path that makes business sense to continue into 2016 under these new provisions when we know the restaurant will be closing in a matter of months.” The other two locations of Noshville will remain open, but that puts the whole business under the number of workers above which a business must offer health insurance. The regulation covers places that employ at least 50-99 full-time workers.
Representative Black rubbed this story in the faces of her Democratic colleagues, as if dancing with glee and rubbing her ass in Nancy Pelosi’s face: “And the next time my colleagues across the aisle want to call Obamacare a ‘jobs bill’ – as Leader Pelosi infamously said – I would invite them to come to the Noshville Deli, where they can get a good meal, and a healthy dose of reality. But they better do it quickly because, thanks to their votes, time for this beloved Nashville icon is running out.” Or they can go to the one in Green Hills.
Now, there’s a chance that this story is gonna become a talking point in the never ending war on Obamacare because Republicans are like miniature dobermans getting their teeth into a dry turd. You can try to yank it out of their mouths, but you’ll just end up bitten with your hands covered in shit. Better to just tell that dog, “Fine, swallow that turd, asshole,” and move on.
‘Cause, see, the rest of the story is that Loventhal was already going to close that Noshville location. He was just gonna maybe keep it open a little ways into 2016. Yeah, the property where it sits was bought by a development group that wants to build – what else? – some motherfuckin’ condos and a damn hotel. As Loventhal himself said, in a remark not mentioned by angry Representative Black, “At any rate, I was going to have to close at some point anyway (for the redevelopment).” And he hadn’t come to any agreement on reopening the restaurant at a later date.
Loventhal was just being a greedy dick. If he had stayed open past January 1, “I would have to offer (health insurance), and it’s kind of like an unknown risk that I as a business person didn’t want to take.” Thus, Loventhal decided to make a grandiose political point instead of just acknowledging that he didn’t want to be in a position to get health insurance for his employees when he wouldn’t have to if the cut-off date was a couple of months later.
Right down the road is Fido, a great coffeehouse restaurant run by another local business, Bongo Java. The owner of Bongo Java, Bob Bernstein, decided that he wouldn’t be a dick and that getting health insurance for his employees who work over 30 hours was “better for morale” and to make his company stronger. Said Bernstein, “I feel bad writing the federal government a $30,000-40,000 check. It’s going to cost me probably double, but at least it’s going toward something. I don’t think it’s going to shut my business.”
There are a couple of ways to look at this. One would be for business owners to demand a national health care program that covers everyone. You could also argue that Tennessee should take the Medicaid expansion, which it hasn’t. The other is to say that a lot of businesses got away with treating their employees like shit when it comes to benefits, even as the businesses were successful, expanded, and hired more people. Either way, though, Obamacare didn’t close Noshville. Dickishness and greed and gentrification did.
Editor’s Note: This essay originally appeared on December 11, 2015, on The Rude Pundit, a website featuring commentary by Lee Papa. It was reproduced here with the consent of Mr. Papa.