For a brief moment, it seemed that President Barack Obama had finally recognized the important role small business plays in the nation’s economy. In his Jan. 28 State of the Union speech, the president urged Congress to “help the entrepreneurs and small-business owners who create most new jobs in America.”
Then he delivered Main Street one disappointment after another. At least he didn’t repeat the smear, “You didn’t build that!” But as he again championed his anti-business agenda, any doubts about his disregard for those who build small firms and struggle under his administration to keep their enterprises alive should be erased.
The first eye-popping disappointment from the State of the Union emerged when the president announced a stunning overreach, unveiling 12 bigger- government schemes — most of which will bring even more federal regulations and higher costs to bear on small firms — and all craftily designed to side-step Congress.
Second on his “throw-in-the-towel” list was insistence that his Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is now the law of the land. Opponents of that misadventure couldn’t miss the “Star Trek” echoes: resistance is futile, surrender and let the government mandates rule.
That’s not the opinion of the National Federation of Independent Business or Main Street, Mr. President. We’ll continue to work to bring about fair and affordable health insurance. And we’ll do it with the support of millions of Americans, especially small-business owners and their employees who are rapidly learning how your poorly designed health law, contrary to promises, will drive up their health costs and result in lower-quality care and fewer jobs.
The No. 3 downer was the president’s call for corporate-only tax reform. This patently ignores one of the most serious challenges to entrepreneurship: fundamental revision of the U.S. tax code, particularly lowering tax rates and demystifying the excessively complex body of law that wastes small-business owners’ time, effort and financial resources.
His fourth letdown for small firms was a decree to hike the minimum wage to $10.10 for new employees of federal contractors. “Give America a raise,” he coerced Congress. That would be a political boost for his supporters, but an unwise move sure to hurt all Americans, particularly those who own businesses and others who will find fewer job opportunities — a fact the Congressional Budget Office has now confirmed.
The No. 5 discouragement was not subtle. Instead of honoring millions who have taken big risks, sacrificed much and yes, built their own businesses, the president tipped his hat instead to the technology sector as America’s favored innovators and leaders of commerce. True, these high-tech companies are creative and enjoy popularity. But the foundation of our economy is comprised of millions of small businesses whose day-to-day efforts aren’t flashy—they just keep the nation afloat.
President Obama’s agenda, sadly, remains frozen in a fundamental misunderstanding of free enterprise. What a disappointment.
Dan Danner is the president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business.