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Linda business owner protests Obama with sign
An assertion by President Barack Obama about government's role in business success has led one Linda small business owner to put up a very visual rebuttal: Yes, I did build that.
On the 5500 block of Feather River Boulevard in front of Elite Universal Security, owner Monty Hecker's sign reads, "I started this company & My people made it grow Not the Government OR OBAMA!"
Hecker, who started his private security firm in 2003 after he retired from the US Air Force, said pressures from government at a number of levels, including state and federal, led him to fight back with his sign.
"I've had it up to my forehead," he said, adding he was particularly appalled by Obama's speech in which he said of successful business owners, "You didn't build that."
The full speech suggests Obama was referring to government-funded institutions such as education, infrastructure and research as playing a critical role in helping many business owners become successful.
But Hecker said in recent months, he has been far more hindered by government than helped, citing as two examples pending requirements for employers under health-care reform, and a plan by state officials to create a levee access corridor on what he feels is part of his property.
With health-care reform, or Obamacare as it's known, Hecker said the costs of providing insurance for his 170 employees could easily put him out of business.
He is referring to a provision in the bill for everyone to purchase health insurance beginning in 2014, and for businesses like his to pay a $2,000-per-employee assessment if his employees take advantage of a federal tax credit to buy insurance on their own.
Currently, Hecker said, he provides health insurance only for those employees who want to contribute to its costs. There is no direct requirement in the health care bill for employers to provide the insurance.
Hecker, whose clients include Yuba County, Yuba County Superior Court and Teichert Construction, said he is highly skeptical of federal estimates stating only about 2 percent of all businesses will have to pay the assessments.
"I really think it's going to destroy small businesses," he said, though the bill defines small businesses as having fewer than 50 employees.
Since he put up the sign on Tuesday, Hecker said, he's gotten a litany of phone calls from people expressing similar emotions. He's encouraging them to get similar signs for their own homes and businesses, he said.
"I think people have the same frame of mind, and I want them to feel confident to do the same thing," Hecker said.
The sign cost about $75, and he bought three: Two for his business for traffic in either direction to see, and one at his home.
Elite Universal Security is next to a Feather River levee that was part of a recent $400 million project to upgrade levees and increase flood protection. Government bonds and funds provided most of the money used for the project.
Hecker said he appreciates the protection, but feels small businesses could've worked together to build the levees without government involvement.
"It would've been built by the people who live here," he said.
Similar frustration is frequently heard these days by those staffing the Yuba County Republican Party headquarters in Marysville, said county party spokesman Buck Weckman.
"And it's not just that specific comment, it's government interference across the board," said Weckman, referring to Obama's remarks.
While infrastructure and government spending on it used to be a noncontroversial issue, he said, that has changed as people have seen too many examples of spending without sense.
"The sentiment now is, let's bring back responsible, cost-effective spending on needs like transportation and public safety," Weckman said. "And not for all these other programs."
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at email@example.com or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer.