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Obama's Lunch Buddy's Company Given Obamacare Waiver

4:45 PM, Jul 12, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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President Obama had lunch today with "four business leaders to discuss ideas to grow the economy and create jobs," according to the White House. The participants met to "discuss the importance of working with the private sector to promote job training efforts, including ways that companies have been partnering with higher educational institutions to develop curriculum and programs that ensure graduates will have the appropriate background and skills to succeed and get hired within the companies."

Barack Obama

Curiously, one of the participants, businessman Clarence Otis, could have used today's affair to provide President Obama a "teachable moment" (a favorite phrase of the president himself). Otis might have explained to the president the negative effects of Obamacare, and why his business, Darden Restaurants, sought and received an Obamacare waiver.

As the Orlando Sentinel reported in November 2010, "Orlando-based Darden Restaurants is getting a break on part of the health-care reform law requiring companies to raise significantly annual coverage limits for low-cost insurance plans starting next year." The Sentinel pointed out that "Darden's waiver would apply to 34,000 employees, or about 20 percent of its 174,000-person workforce. Most of Darden's employees work in its restaurants such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster and LongHorn Steakhouse."

Darden has a health insurance plan for its employees. And, according to the company's statement to the paper, "the waiver allows [the company] to continue to do that as the various phases of the health care law are implemented." 

According to a report in May, at least 1,000 companies have already been granted Obamacare waivers -- and the legislation hasn't even been fully implemented. 

The point Otis hopefully made to Obama is that Obamacare is bad for business--which is why his own business sought an exemption. That would be a helpful business lesson for the president.

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