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Bernie Sanders Villainizes Small Biz Owner for Not Being Able to Afford Health Insurance

In a CNN town hall about Obamacare Tuesday night, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders lectured a small business owner about her ability to provide healthcare to her employees. In fact, he even demonized her, saying that she was causing problems for good business owners who provided good healthcare for their employees! Only later did he realize that she could no longer afford healthcare for herself, much less her workers.

LaRonda Hunter, owner of five Fantastic Sam's hair salons in Fort Worth, Tex., explained that she only employs between 45 and 48 people, because Obamacare would force her to provide insurance if she had 50 employees. "Unfortunately, the profit margin in my industry is very thin, and I'm not a wealthy person, so it's impossible for me to grow my business," Hunter said.

"My question to you, Senator Sanders, is how do I grow my business, how do I employ more Americans without either raising the prices to my customers, or lowering wages to my employees?" the small business owner asked.

Sanders was incredulous. He had to clarify twice that Hunter, despite owning five salons, does not provide health insurance for her employees. Finally, he responded to her question. "Let me give you an answer you will not be happy with," the senator started. "I am sorry, I think that in America today, everybody should have healthcare and if you have more than 50 people, I'm afraid to tell you, I think you will have to provide health insurance."

When Hunter pressed him on her original question — how to expand business or pay for insurance without raising prices or lowering wages — he turned her into an economic villain.

"My guess is that one of the problems we have is that maybe somebody else in Fort Worth who is providing decent health insurance to their employees, and they are in an unfair competitive situation regarding you," Sanders declared, wagging his finger at the poor woman. "You can compete and maybe charge lower prices in business, while they on the other hand may be providing decent health insurance."

The Vermont senator's implication? Hunter is cheating in business by not giving her employees health insurance. Rather than just taking the hit to her business — which might force her to go out of business — and providing health insurance regardless of her capabilities, this small businesswoman is making life worse for everyone by lowering the standards of business practices and making it harder for good businesses to succeed.