Las Vegas Sun

September 18, 2018

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Businessman loves Trump, but hates tariffs, wants government health care

Don Ahern, president and CEO of Las Vegas-based Ahern Rentals, is a Donald Trump guy.

“Donald Trump is my hero. Let it be known, I love him,” Ahern said this week on Nevada Newsmakers.

But there are two areas where Trump is causing heartburn for Ahern Rentals, the largest independent rental company in North America, Ahern said.

One concern is Trump’s proposed 25 percent tariffs on Chinese imports. They are sure to cause China to impose or increase tariffs on U.S. goods.

Trump has already imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum from Europe, Canada and Mexico.

The other concern is the rising cost of health insurance for the company and Trump’s failure to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“These tariffs are not working for us,” Ahern said. “It is causing us to have a lot of cost increases now. There is a lot of complexity in the tariffs. We buy millions and millions of tons of steel for our units. We produce over 12,000 pieces of equipment a year and every component we buy is made out of steel.”

Ahern, however, is hopeful Trump’s negotiating skills will ensure a future where international trade is fairer for everyone.

“I just think he is the most fabulous negotiator I’ve ever seen,” Ahern said of Trump. “I wish I could hold a candle to him.”

Ahern wants all tariffs eliminated and feels that may be Trump’s end game.

“I do hope that these tariffs are kind of a path to get to where we need to be, which is basically trade with no tariffs going either way,” he said.

Ahern is also confident Trump will continue trying to repeal and replace Obamacare. “Some of the biggest problems we’ve got as a businessman, at least for me, has been health care,” he said.

Ahern said his company’s health care costs have rocketed from $5 million annually a few years ago to $15 million now.

“The company has grown a lot and that is beautiful. But year in and year out, we’ve had anywhere from 12 to 20 percent increases (in health-care costs) annually,” he said.

Health care should be taken over by the government, Ahern said, although he didn’t cite specific ways of doing that.

“I’m a Trump supporter and all of that, but I really believe that health care should be a government problem and not an employer’s problem, because this causes employees to move around and causes us to have all kinds of problems,” he said.

Even though Trump has stumbled on a few issues, Ahern said, he feels the business climate is better than it would have been under a Democratic administration.

“He has saved our country, in my opinion,” Ahern said of Trump. “I’m not sure where we would be, had it gone the other direction.”