Is the State of the Union Good for Small Business?

congress public domainLet me ask you a question: If you wanted to do the greatest good for the most people, would you spend your time listening to the complaints and desires of 1 percent of the group, or find ways to improve conditions for the other 99 percent?

This situation is reflected in the recent State of the Union Address and the general way that Washington D.C. operates. While every politician talks about “helping the middle class,” they listen to big business and special interest groups. Yet small business – the heart and soul of the middle class – is the real driver in our economy. Here’s a good overview from Family Business Institute co-founder and president Wayne Rivers that recently appeared in The Wall Street Journal:

About 5.7 million small businesses have employees, and private companies account for between 56 percent and 63 percent of America’s GDP. Small business employs about half the people in the workforce, and account for about 86 percent of companies with 500 or more employees, according to Forbes. Small business is big business.

Taxes and tidbits

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), while agreeing that President Obama’s State of the Union Address included “a few positive tidbits,” pointed out that he needs to support the reduction of federal regulations and individual income tax relief, which is how many small business owners file their taxes. Further, the president supports higher energy taxes, which will slow economic growth and put an additional burden on small business owners.

In his Wall Street Journal article, Rivers pointed out that there are more than 99 smaller, privately held businesses for every large, publically traded corporation. However, it’s that 1 percent that keeps all the office buildings on Washington D.C.’s K Street jam packed with lobbyists. They have the ears of the lawmakers. Small business owners have the NFIB and various trade groups; but in no way are they able to exert the same influence over our lawmakers as do the multi-national corporations, their checkbooks and their hired guns.

Today’s catchphrase

Over the years, some very notable thoughts and words have come out of Washington. President John F. Kennedy’s exhortation, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” still ring in our national conscience. In his first inaugural address, Franklin Roosevelt encouraged the nation with, “…the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

Today the most memorable phrase coming from both the administration and Congress is, “Dead on arrival.” Neither side will consider the other’s proposals. However, right now both the president and Congress are at least paying lip service to “working together.”

There are proposals that might benefit small business that need to be carefully considered by all sides, including H.R. 30, which would repeal the provision of the Affordable Care Act defining full-time employment as 30 hours; and the Regulatory Accountability Act, which is designed to increase public participation in drafting regulations before agencies propose them, according to the NFIB.

Ohio Senator Rob Portman just introduced legislation that would change the health care law in several ways, including the repeal of fines and the easing of restrictions on health savings accounts.

As a small business owner and citizen, study these proposals and see where your representatives stand. Let them know what you think is the right thing to do.

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