Obamacare Fees Are Great for Public Relations

A hip new Los Angeles restaurant just added a three percent surcharge to all orders to cover the cost of Obamacare. That's a good idea.

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A hip new Los Angeles restaurant, République, just added a 3 percent surcharge to all orders to cover the cost of Obamacare, according to CBS Los Angeles. That's a good idea.

From a non-political point of view it doesn't make much sense. When the price of food goes up, for instance,  because your state was suffering a massive drought, a business probably wouldn't charge a drought fee. If your rent goes up, something that has shuttered many businesses, you wouldn't charge a greedy landlord tax. But Obamacare is something that is controversial, and blaming rising prices on the health care law 1) makes you look good for providing insurance, and 2) deflects the blame to the Obamacare. 

Some customers didn't mind paying extra if they knew it was for health care. “Adding it to the tip, or taking it away from the tip is normal, and I think it’s important that everybody has health care within the restaurants,” customer Chris Jordan said. Businesses with 50 or more employees are required to offer insurance, and the owners of République wanted their employees to have the same insurance they have (that's in the CBS story, and it makes them look good).

While others noted that this is what Obamacare has wrought:

(Mr. T is "proud to be followed by" Sen. Ted Cruz.)

Last week some Planet Fitness branches started charging a small tax on Black Card Holders. Obamacare charges a tax on tanning, and Black Card holders have unlimited access to tanning salons. "The fitness center's Black Card members can certainly see the irony in being forced to pay a tax for living a healthy lifestyle, whatever the logic behind it turns out to be. While five cents a month may not seem like a large amount, the extra charge still seems to violate the principle of the law behind it," Ashley Pratte wrote at BreitbartPratte, the young woman who brought this to Breitbart's attention, is the Public Relations coordinator for the Young America's Foundation, a conservative youth group. 

Tanning actually isn't healthy at all, be let's ignore that. Planet Fitness probably doesn't charge members more when they run the air conditioning in the summer — a global warming tax? — but this tax is small enough to not scare people off, while still annoying enough to make a point. On Twitter Pratte argued that:

...Turning this into an issue of the government taxing healthy people for trying to stay healthy. That's not what's happening, but Planet Fitness made it look that way.

But blaming it on Obamacare doesn't always work. In 2012 a Denny's franchise owner had to back away from a promise to place a 5 percent tax on all orders. More recently, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong looked like a jerk after he cut 401(k) benefits because of Obamacare and distressed babies. He later restored the benefits.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.