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Regulations and Taxes Don't Hurt

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 8, 2011 — Dan Danner, the president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress this evening.

“Small-business owners needed to hear something bold from President Obama tonight, but instead just heard more of the same. His plan does not address the fundamental problems facing small business today. In addition, recent history tells us that a huge federal stimulus program is the wrong approach, and again sends the message that the president thinks he can spend his way out of this recession.

“The truth is that small businesses need the government out of their way. Tax breaks are always a welcome help to small businesses, especially in these tough economic times. But those outlined tonight by the president are temporary, and avoid the question of meaningful business tax reform. Lack of sales is still a major concern and there is a great deal of uncertainty among small businesses thanks to the threat of higher taxes and the thousands of pending federal regulations. The president’s speech did little to ease those concerns.”

My response:

I am a small business person: 18 years, 30 employees, $2.5 million in sales. For the life of me I cannot name one federal regulation that holds me back. Not one. In fact I can’t name one regulation that I deal with that I have not dealt with over the administrations of four presidents–two Republicans and two Democrats. I’ve had higher tax rates and lower tax rates with no effect on how I grew my business.

So I just don’t understand Mr. Danner’s (NFIB) comments on President Obama’s jobs bill. He says government is in my way. That is not my experience. Without a government backed SBA loan, my banker told me they would have a hard time loaning me the $150,000 I needed for an expansion of my business that has resulted in hiring two new employees and probably a third soon. Yeah government!

Furthermore; I imagine the “threat of higher taxes” is a reference to letting the Bush Tax Cuts expire. More utter nonsense. A tiny percentage of small businesses (2%) would pay more taxes and there is no way to fudge your way around that. If my business activity resulted in my paying higher taxes then so be it. I owe it. I pay it because to thrive, my business needs a good local economy, good schools to draw employees from and modern infrastructure over which to deliver product to my customers around the country. Paying a taxes is, in a sense, in my best interest.

Like Oliver Wendall Holmes said, “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”

Mr. Danner of the NFIB mentions lack of consumer spending as a major concern but drops that angle and goes directly to his regulation and raising tax shtick. That’s because nothing they suggest does anything to increase demand.

You see, demand is the problem. Consumer spending is the problem and the answer is a truly Roosevelt-sized jobs bill that indirectly puts money in the hands of those who will spend it by creating the environment where jobs can be created by the private sector. It needs to fund infrastructure projects around the country and address the mortgage crisis in such a way that people stay in their homes and reduce their mortgages, leaving more money in their pockets. Those two things alone will pump billions into our marketplace, raising demand and thereby creating jobs.

Tax breaks for the wealthiest among us does nothing to help that problem. Nothing.

Obama’s plan addresses these two areas. Like the stimulus bill in 2008, if there is a problem with Obama’s plan, it is that it is too small.

If tax cuts and cutting government regulatory power creates jobs then what in the name of the holy Huskers happened leading up to 2008 crash? Two shots of unpaid-for tax breaks under Bush II didn’t create jobs. Relaxing regulations on the insurance industry didn’t create jobs. Instead, we were hemorrhaging millions of jobs in the months leading up to Mr. Obama being elected.

The NFIB does not speak for small business. They never have. They listen to who they want to and ignore the rest of us. Their board is stacked with CEOs from fortune 500 companies. Mr. Danner and the NFIB simply spits up the talking points of the Republican leadership who would rather chew their own arm off than give anything to the President that could be construed as a win. They would rather tank the economy and add to the suffering of the unemployed than submit one useful idea of their own. All they have is the never ending sirens’ song of lower taxes for fat cats and gutting regulations that protect consumers so they can spend their money confident that goods and services won’t kill them.

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208 S. Burlington Ave., Ste 103, Box 325, Hastings, NE 68901