How Much Better Would Business Be If Washington Acted on these 10 Priorities?

congress public domainThe situation in Washington D.C. reminds me of the scene in “Rebel Without a Cause” when Buzz (Corey Allen) and Jim (James Dean) are playing a deadly game of “Chicken Run” in their cars, racing toward a cliff and testing who would be the first to pull up.

The big difference is that Congress and the President declare they want to solve the same national problems and then they play a game where the winner seems to be the first to act. The President beat Congress by a wide margin on immigration. Taxes are now the target with the President’s spokesman recently declaring that President Obama is looking into taking unilateral executive action to raise taxes.

This should put Congress under pressure to act sooner rather than later and to prod our lawmakers forward on a variety of issues that impact small business. The National Small Business Association (NSBA) recently issued the group’s Top 10 Priorities for the 114th Congress and this would be a good place for lawmakers to start. Look over this list and see if they jibe with your views, then take time to lobby your elected officials, industry groups and local organization to support those you favor.

Corporate Tax Reform and Small Business. We need tax reform, but if it is solely for corporate entities, it would bypass most small businesses, which are organized as pass-throughs. That would put small businesses at a disadvantage.

Improve Access to Credit and Capital. We know how difficult credit has been to obtain in recent years. The NSBA favors changes to the SBA loan programs, enhancing the status of credit unions and reforms that would make crowdfunding more viable for small businesses.

Deficit Reduction and Entitlement Reform. These are certainly two of the biggest issues facing the long-term health of our economy and small business. Sweeping changes to the tax code, Social Security and Medicare are required. I don’t see anything happening until after the next presidential election, if then.

Rein-in the Costs of Health Care. The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, didn’t really solve the affordability problem, except for those individuals who now have subsidized health insurance. Modernization, tax reform, and market-based solutions need to be injected into the system.

Capital Gains and Dividends. President Obama is proposing changes that would dramatically increase the amount of capital gains taxes small business owners pay, especially when they pass their businesses along to beneficiaries.

Tax Extender Permanency. Each year Congress extends various business tax deductions and this song-and-dance is growing rather tiresome. Small business owners need certainty so they can plan new equipment purchases and capital improvements.

Export-Import Bank Reauthorization. While there is some debate on the effectiveness of the Export-Import Bank for small business, the NSBA urges its reauthorization for a four-five year period.

National Regulatory Budget. Our regulatory environment is probably the biggest inhibitor to economic growth. The NSBA urges Congress to pass legislation that would require regulators to estimate the economic burden created by new regulations as well as create caps to control those costs.

Immigration Reform. There is, of course, much to do here, but as a guiding principle, policies should be adopted that encourage immigration by individuals who will benefit the American economy and our competiveness, including foreign students graduating from our colleges and universities, and other reforms.

Strengthen SBA Office of Advocacy. Because large corporations are able to spread out the regulatory burden over a bigger “footprint” they don’t feel the pain nearly as much as small business owners. The SBA Office of Advocacy needs to be fully staffed with top-notch professionals.

Reviewing this list, it’s obvious that some of these are hot-button issues where our sharply divided leaders will be unable to find common ground. However, reaching an accord on many, such as making permanent laws they approve every year anyway, shouldn’t be out of the question, even for our lawmakers…

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