Where the candidates stand on small business issues

October 16, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Today the Washington Post published a “complete guide” to where the presidential candidates stand on issues that affect small businesses. To start with, some of the assumptions made– especially that that small businesses are most concerned about regulations– are not necessarily true (we’ve blogged about this before). The article relies on information provided by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB),  whose agenda leans more to the right. Including findings about small business’ concerns and priorities from other advocates, such as the Main Street Alliance or the Small Business Majority, would have provided a more balanced approach to small business issues.

Nevertheless, it does provide a basic overview of the issues– taxes, health care, regulation, immigration, government contracting, and the Small Business Administration (SBA)– and how the two campaigns weigh in.  A previous blog post included a discussion about taxes and regulations. Another blog post discusses the issue of government contracting, particularly for women and minority-owned firms. But two to of the issues discussed in the Washington Posts that are of note are health care and the SBA.

On health care, the  Affordable Care Act does provide aid and incentives to small businesses in providing health benefits to employees. Businesses with fewer than 25 employees and average salaries of $50,000 or less are eligible for a tax credit of up to 35 percent,which will be increased eventually to 50 percent. And, after January 2014, the incentives and regulations for providing health care will vary by the size of business, so smaller employers will have fewer burdens.  On the other hand, the question of what would happen if it were repealed is still unclear. Without any details on what would replace Obamacare, it’s difficult to assess what the impact would be on small businesses.

Regarding the SBA, the Post points out that the President has doubled the SBA’s budget, allowing for an increase in small business lending, and he has also proposed rolling the SBA into the Commerce Department along with four other trade agencies. This could be seen either as streamlining, or as diluting the reach and effectiveness of the SBA– either way, this plan has not yet moved forward.  On the other side of the aisle, the House budget proposal and Mitt Romney’s plans to enact agency budget cuts and reduce government contracts could have detrimental effects on SBA lending.

Both sides have ardently asserted their support for small businesses, but clearly they  have very different ideas of what would be most effective. Beyond just rhetoric and campaign promises, small businesses need smart policies to help guide and encourage their development. These businesses are the backbone of so many local economies and will be the key to achieving a broad-based economic recovery.

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Entry filed under: Economic Development, Economy, Small Business. Tags: , .

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