A small business owner recently asked us if we thought Washington’s indecision over the health care issue could affect her business. Our answer was not the one she wanted to hear.

It has been the public’s willingness to commit to the purchases of new cars, refrigerators, and houses that has greatly determined the state of the economy since the great depression. This is still the situation today. As long as we continue to make these major purchases, it’s smooth sailing. But will consumers be able to afford the payments on major purchases if they have a major increase in their health care costs?

What if consumers are thinking about that new car or house right now and reading the news about the government’s indecision on health care costs? What if, suddenly, consumers had to fork up another $300-600 per month …or more? Would they be more likely or less likely to make that new car purchase PLUS committing themselves to hundreds of dollars more in monthly payments? Just the specter of this possibility may be enough to make them second guess that next major purchase.

Once a considerable segment of the market decides to postpone these kinds of purchases, the dominoes begin to start falling and sales in most businesses are negatively affected. We saw this in the last recession. Initially the pundits said it would be contained to the real estate sector. But they didn’t factor in that consumers felt less wealthy, even if it their “wealth” was on paper. They immediately cut back on their spending, especially for those major purchases. This trickled down to startups and small businesses, and many jobs were lost.

We fear the potential for this same phenomenon is at work today. Real estate is now in a significant bubble, the stock market is once more overvalued. We have lived long enough to have seen the economy take a big hit, just because the press focused too much news on poor early holiday sales, which created a self-fulfilling prophecy scaring consumers out of their wits and out of the stores. How about governmental indecision on a major part of the consumer’s personal budget?

Whether you agree with the concept of government health care or not, it’s here and it’s here to stay. Americans now expect government health care at some level. So that’s a dead debate. Now the question is, what kind and how much? This is an important enough decision that it requires some bi-party cooperation. There’s no doubt the existing health care plan needs fixing and the new plans obviously need to be better thought out. There’s no simple solution.

No elected official wants to face reelection with their name on a bill that leaves 20 million people uncovered or facing radically increased premiums. Meanwhile, the indecision about the future of health care can cause unnecessary negative effects on the economy. Indecision creates insecurity, and insecurity results in more indecision.

We are pro-business. We especially love to support startups and small businesses. For us, this current situation directly impacts those businesses, since the postponement of major purchases will have a ripple effect that will hurt businesses at every level. We would like to see all elected officials understand that working together to solve this problem quickly is more important than honoring any pre-election pledges made without consideration of the big picture. The economy is fragile, so let’s not spook the consumers!

Who Are We.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse in 1986, to the board room of E&J Gallo, where they successfully sold their brand in 2005. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful and help corporations achieve entrepreneurial cultures to engage and empower their people.

Currently they travel the world keynoting at universities, corporations, conferences and symposiums. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals; along with being FOX News Radio Network’s Workplace Culture Experts. They are also the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Award from the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Bradley University. Visit their popular brand building site at www.thebrandauthority.net. To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact info@thebarefootspirit.com.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders