Tag Archive for 'Congress'

Washington’s New Hashtag: #WithoutAnySenseOfShame

Let me tell you a story.

A boss gives an employee a project on January 1st that could easily be completed right away. This project had significant financial implications for the company. Month after month the boss checks in with the employee but finds the project still isn’t completed. The employee hasn’t done his job.

Finally, in the middle of December, almost a year later, the employee delivers the finished project as if there’s been a great accomplishment, but with two pieces of bad news: There are only two weeks left for the project to contribute to this year’s business, plus the project just delivered will be useless on January 1 without being completely reworked.

No doubt right now you’re yelling, “Who keeps an employee like this?” Or perhaps you’re saying, “This is a joke, right? No organization operates like that.” Sadly, this scenario is not only true, it’s been happening in a real organization, like in the movie Groundhog Day, for several years.

The employee in my story is Congress and the employer is America’s small business owners. The projects are 52 tax extenders which Congress has chosen to reapprove annually rather than make them permanent.

Many of these extenders are key factors in growth strategies, plus cash and tax planning for millions of businesses. Perhaps the most prominent is section 179 of the tax code. Part of this section allows and sets a limit for direct expensing of capital items in the year of acquisition, rather than depreciating those items over years.

For several years the Section 179 expensing limit, and the amount awaiting re-approval, was $500,000. But if this provision isn’t renewed it drops to $25,000. And just like in my story, instead of finishing the project permanently, Congress keeps renewing this extender each year, which wouldn’t be so bad if they did their work in January. But in 2014, without any sense of shame, Congress passed another one-year extension for the $500,000 level on December 16.

The expensing provision might not change whether you make the investment, nor the price of the purchase, but it does impact cash flow and tax planning for the year of acquisition, which is a big deal for most small businesses. If you were trying to make a 2014 equipment purchase decision, you had less than two weeks – over the holidays – to get that equipment in service in order to take advantage of the expensing option.

When you’ve read my past criticism of the anti-business practices of the political class in Washington, this is but one example. Like it or not, the tax code is very much a part of business investment decisions for companies large and small. And when investment decisions impeded at the micro level of a single purchase are aggregated across millions of businesses, it has a negative impact on economic growth. It’s not difficult to see how Congress’s failure to do their job has contributed to the moribund 2% annual GDP growth we’ve been suffering since 2009.

So here we are again feeling like it’s Groundhog Day because, like last year, Congress still hasn’t renewed the tax extenders for 2015. Next time someone asks why non-politicians are polling so high in the presidential campaigns, tell them this story.

Write this on a rock … Washington’s new Twitter hashtag should be: #WITHOUTANYSENSEOFSHAME.

Jim Blasingame is author of the award-winning book, The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.

Small Business Advocate Poll: How will you vote for Congressional candidates?

The Question:
In the upcoming election, how will you vote for Congressional candidates?

4% - More likely to vote for an established incumbent with influence

42% - More likely to vote to send new representation to Washington

55% - Some of both

My Commentary:
One of the great political debates in the United States in recent years is how much of the problems in Washington are actually caused by the people we sent to solve the problems - the entrenched political class. There are a number of groups, especially on the Republican side of the aisle, who are dedicated to kicking out these incumbents and electing replacements who are not part of the entitled political gentry, and who will work and vote to create real solutions that fit our 21st century challenges.

We wanted to know how our small business audience was thinking about the political class vs new blood issue, so last week we asked this question: “In the upcoming election, how will you vote for Congressional candidates?” Here’s what we learned:

Over half of our respondents, 55%, said they were likely to vote for both incumbents and new faces, while more than four-of-ten of our sample said they were “more likely to vote to send new representation to Washington. And only 5% said they were more likely to “vote for an established incumbent with influence.”

That’s 95% of our audience either inclined or committed to make changes in Washington this year. If our audience is representative of America, and I think it absolutely is, these results should cause some projectile sweat to break out among the political class. Indeed, we’re already seeing the effects of this anti-incumbent movement with the retirement of a number of senior members of Congress, as well as a number being defeated by their own party in the primaries.

America has many problems, but it makes me feel better about our future when so many are demanding performance by working to take back our government from the entitled political class through our beautiful political process.

God bless America.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Small Business Advocate Poll: Principles of the Tea Party

The fundamental principles of the Tea Party are a balanced federal budget and smaller government. Do you think their ideas are good for America or not?

80% - Good

14% - Not Good

0% -Undecided

My Commentary:

The so-called Tea Party is an interesting phenomenon in that it sprang up as a true grassroots movement. Regular Americans representing many demographics and regions started demanding a commitment to smaller government and fiscal conservatism from any political candidate who wanted their vote.

In less than two years of existence, without any central organization or financial backing, the Tea Party nominated and elected enough members of Congress in 2010 to become a political game changer by 2011.

We wanted to know what you think about the Tea Party, so last week we asked this question: “Do you think their ideas are good for America or not?” Here’s what you said.

A little more than one-in-ten of our sample said the Tea Party was not good for America. Only 5% said they were undecided. But 82% of our respondents said the Tea Party was good for the U.S.

This week we ask another question involving the Tea Party, so I’ll have more to say about this group later.

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Check out other great SBA content HERE!

The Blame Game

Recently, in the Small Business Advocate poll, we asked this question: Who do you think is most responsible for the current state of the U.S. economy? Here are the results:

27% - Congress

18% - President Obama

55% - Both

Jim’s Comments:

Lately, we’ve been asking what you think of President Obama’s attempts to create jobs in America. Some of our audience members said, “Hey, you’re picking on Obama - what about Congress?”

Well, there are at least two reasons why we don’t think we’ve been picking on the prez:

  1. He’s the president. It’s his watch. He asked for the job. To paraphrase President Truman, he occupies the desk upon which the buck stops.
  2. He has put his jobs plans right out there, expending a lot of words and taxpayer money on various jobs programs of which he has taken full ownership.

Nevertheless, we do agree that Congress shouldn’t be left out. So last week in our online poll, we asked this question: “Who do you think is most responsible for the current state of the U.S. economy?” Here are the results.

All by himself, President Obama did better this week, with only 18% of our voters putting all of the responsibility for our troubled economy on his shoulders. The 535 occupants of the big building on the other end of Pennsylvania Ave. faired a little worse, with 27% of our respondents blaming Congress.

The big number was reserved for Team Politic. More than half of you said both the president and Congress were to blame for the economy, which includes the worst sustained unemployment conditions in generations.

I’m not trying to be controversial, but with these kinds of numbers so close to the next election, and with the economy not expected to improve dramatically over the next 13 months, I’m predicting a major housecleaning in all three houses. Not along party lines, but along the lines of the political class - members of both parties who have long forgotten what they were sent to Washington to do and who they were sent to represent.

For my part, it’s about time.

I talked more on The Small Business Advocate Show about who is to blame for our current economic troubles. Click here to listen or download what I have to say, and while you’re there, see what other people are saying about the economy.

Be sure to take this week’s poll HERE!

Access other great SBA content HERE!

Take our poll on the U.S. debt ceiling

With the intense debate going on right now in Congress over the U.S. deficit and the debt ceiling, we’d like to know what you think.

Do you think the government should raise the debt limit to avoid defaulting on its obligations?

Click on the question and give us your opinion - it will just take a few seconds and you’ll immediately see the current results of the poll.

Have more you’d like to say? Leave us a comment.

Want to know how the debt ceiling debate impacts you? Click on one of the links below to listen to my conversations yesterday with John Harrison, Founder of Aspire Financial Advisors and author of Making Mammon Serve You: A Biblical Manual for Money Mastery .

How the debt ceiling dysfunction affects you financially

Will the debt ceiling impasse hurt your small business?

Small business lessons for Washington

There are innumerable issues and circumstances that can create obstacles to small business success. Whether internal or external, most of these factors occur naturally in the course of doing business, and dealing with them just comes with the territory.

But there is one issue that small business owners shouldn’t be threatened with: poor performance of Washington’s political class.

The marketplace is indifferent to, and unforgiving of, the poor performance of any small business. But what is the small business appeal process when government behavior compromises the greater economy?

Job-one for small business owners is to keep their financial affairs in order – cash flow, profitability, etc. Failure to do so negates positive performance of all other activity.
Job-one for members of Congress is to appropriate the funds for the short and long-term financial operation of the government. Since the federal fiscal year begins on October 1, it follows that the budget and associated appropriations should be completed by September 30. At least that’s how things work in a small business – in the real world.

Without any sense of shame, it apparently seems normal to the Washington political class to still be debating the 2011 budget and funding process with less than half of the fiscal year remaining. Without any sense of embarrassment, the political class continues to behave in such a way as to be regularly compared to a Kabuki dance.

Kabuki is a form of Japanese theater in which characters dress, dance and behave on stage in ways that require the audience to suspend any sense of reality to enjoy. Sadly, few metaphors are more apt today.

We wanted to know what my radio, Internet and Newsletter audience thought about the behavior of America’s Kabuki cast of characters, so we asked this question: “Who is to blame for how Washington is handling the 2011 budget process?”

Even though both major political parties were offered up as the first two options, the response to the third is at once dramatic and hopeful. Almost 60% of our sample chose: “A pox on both houses; both are incompetent.”

If this super-majority sentiment is representative and endures to November 2012, all candidates may be required to demonstrate that they will operate the government as a successful small business owner does – in the responsible, real world.

Perhaps it would be enough just to have a sense of shame.

Last week on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked more about the lack of statesmanship and political shenanigans going on these days in Washington, D.C. Take a few minutes to click on the links below and leave us your thoughts on how you think the political haranguing should be resolved.

Washington’s Kabuki Dance: Without any sense of shame

America’s canary in the mineshaft




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