Tag Archive for 'election'

Which presidential candidate is best for small business?

As a leading voice for the small business sector, one of the factors I track and report on is public policy. In my advocacy role, I vociferously support those issues that benefit small business and pugnaciously oppose those that don’t, regardless of political party origin.

Before every presidential race since 2000, I’ve reconciled the policies of the two major party candidates with the top concerns that keep small business owners up at night. Here are those comparisons for the five small business issues that currently find their way to the top of every survey.

“We need more business”
Admittedly, this is the default lament of almost every small business. But in the past seven years, business leaders have reported that the greatest factor in their investment/risk-taking/hiring calculus has been an unprecedented high level of uncertainty. When asked about the source, the answer is invariably anti-business policies and rhetoric from Washington. Uncertainty manufacturing examples include, but are not limited to: direct expensing limits under Section 179 of the tax code; the Obamacare roll-out roller coaster; policies skewed in favor of unions; and now, the upcoming DOL overtime exemption rules.

Hillary Clinton 2008 might have been better for the economy than Barack Obama, but not Hillary 2016. She’s been pulled too far to the left - read: anti-business - to do anything that would promote business risk-taking.

In almost every way, Donald Trump will likely be more to the left than a true-blue fiscal conservative. But he does have an advantage regarding the economy in that he knows what it takes to create a job. Clinton doesn’t.

With their Big Lobbies, Big Business will do okay in the economy regardless of who is president, because crony capitalism will thrive under either Trump or Clinton. The problem for small businesses is we’re not organized and we’re no one’s crony.

On the economy, I’ve got to go with the one who’s made a payroll.

“Our taxes are too high”
Essentially by definition, the most troubling hit to the precious working capital of a profitable small business is taxes. Hillary Clinton’s vow to raise taxes will hurt small businesses. Donald Trump said he plans to reduce taxes. I don’t know if either one will be successful in their pledge, but I have to go with the one whose plan includes a downward arrow. Some say tax cuts will increase the deficit. But that belies the fact that the U.S. government does not have a revenue problem - it has a spending problem.

“Health care costs are prohibitive”
As I and many others predicted, Obamacare has become a nightmare for small businesses, and by extension, their employees. In a recent online poll I took of small business owners, two-thirds reported that under Obamacare their health care insurance expense has gone up significantly, if not prohibitively, as have the deductible level for employees. And the new enrollment period is bringing new pain.

Clinton thinks Obamacare didn’t go far enough, while Trump has pledged to “repeal and replace.” I don’t know if Donald can deliver a health care cost silver bullet, but we do know that Obamacare isn’t the answer, or what Hillary has in mind.

“Stop the regulatory assault”
According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, regulatory compliance - aka stealth tax - is beginning to take more off the bottom line of small businesses than their income tax bill. One perfect example is the new DOL overtime exemption rules, which in addition to increasing payroll without increasing productivity, will become a work schedule, record-keeping nightmare for millions of small businesses.

Again, I’m going to have to put my faith in correcting this with the person who knows what’s involved in making and administering a payroll.

“We need more qualified employees”
You may be surprised to learn that in many surveys, this is the number one concern of small businesses. In fact, economists have reported on my radio program that there are millions of good-paying jobs going unfilled due to a lack of qualified candidates. Sadly, in the past 20 years, I haven’t heard any president, or candidate, address this problem, including Trump and Clinton. It doesn’t say much about a government that won’t help small employers find qualified workers, while actively putting regulations between them and the employees they have. But I have to give a slight nod to Trump, because he has actually conducted business in the current human resources environment.

Finally
I know of no other election where both presidential candidates of the two major parties are as deficient in exemplifying the best America has to offer. One of the markers of a true leader is someone followers want to look up to. Who in either party can truly say they could look up to either candidate? Another leadership trait, especially in a president, is someone whom we believe we can trust. Essentially by definition, neither a pathological liar nor a pathological narcissist fits the profile of a trusted person.

In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville said of the American political system: “In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.” Whatever we did to deserve this, please join me in asking for forgiveness. Because I’m truly sorry. How about you?

#GODHELPUS

Write this on a rock … America has bigger problems than who will be the next president. But on balance, I think Donald Trump will be the best one for small businesses.

Beware of the small business voting bloc

Photo credit to MorgueFile

Going into Tuesday’s elections, President Obama could either brace for the curse of the second mid-term or imagine America’s first black president could pull off a Clinton miracle. So when he declared that his policies were on the ballots, even if his name wasn’t, we were left to assume Obama dreamed of a Clinton repeat.

Apparently voters agreed with the president about one thing: his policies were on their minds in the voting booth. Indeed, GOP gains were too pervasive to lay blame to just the Democrats on the ballot. Republicans gained the majority in the Senate, increased their majority in the House, increased governorships by three—including in four deep blue states, plus a net pickup of eight state legislative chambers. Talk about the wrong kind of coattails.

We wanted to know how small business owners were feeling about this election, so in a pre-election online poll we asked them which party they favored. Only 12% said Democrat. Most small business owners consider Obama’s ideology, policies and rhetoric to be anti-business. Here’s a short list of their issues with this president:

  • The worst economic recovery in history
  • Obamacare, the mother of all uncertainties
  • His environmental policies negatively impact job creation and energy prices
  • His fealty to unions is anti-employer
  • The exponential growth of regulations—the stealth tax
  • His plan to relinquish U.S. control of the Internet
  • Small business owners don’t like hearing, “You didn’t build your businesses”

There are approximately 100 million potential voters in Small Business America, including owners and employees. Considering the economic uncertainty and financial damage small businesses have experienced for the past six years, it’s reasonable to attribute much of the election outcome to these voters.

As a lame-duck president, it may be too late to redeem Mr. Obama. But the political class should heed the prophetic wisdom of the late Massachusetts Democrat Senator Paul Tsongas, who told his party in 1992, “You can’t be pro-jobs and anti-business at the same time. You cannot love employment and hate employers.”

Write this on a rock … Beware the small business voting bloc

RESULTS: Which political party are you most likely to support?

The Question: With barely a week until the mid-term elections in the U.S., which political party are you most likely to support?

12% - Democrat
67% - Republican
16% - Independent
5% - Neither - don’t plan to vote

Jim’s Comments:
As you can see, our small business audience leans heavily toward the GOP. Representing one of the largest voting blocks in the country, the small business sector could make a big difference in any election if we were more organized to hold politicians accountable on issues that are important to Main Street businesses.

Be sure to vote this Tuesday, and when you do, ask yourself which candidates have the highest regard for your small business and the efforts you make as its owner.

Be a single-issue voter for your small business

Americans are afforded a privilege which, while not rare on Earth, is certainly unavailable to billions of other Earthlings: We’re allowed to vote for those who represent us in government.

The words “privilege” and “allowed” are used with a purpose: the U.S. Constitution gives Americans the right to vote, but does not require us to do so. If voting were a legal requirement, in the 2000 election 100 million Americans could have been arrested, as pundits lamented the “Vanishing Voter” phenomenon.

But with all of its faults, no one can say America is hidebound. In the span of a decade, the Vanishing Voter has been supplanted by the Engaged Voter. We’re experiencing one of the most promising phenomena of the current age: increasing fervor and investment of the American electorate in the political process.

Say what you will about the Tea Party, it has not only given voice to those who hold dear conservative values, but to paraphrase Mr. Newton, it has engendered an equal and opposite reaction from those who inhabit the left side of the political spectrum. Ironically, this vociferous differentiation has placed greater import on the new electoral power brokers, independent voters.

Nothing bad happens when Americans get fired up about the political process, regardless of whether they spin to the left or the right, or mark time in the middle. Feeling pressure to take a political position typically manifests in becoming a more knowledgeable voter. If America is to ever solve its many challenges, those solutions will be demanded by an informed electorate who hire representatives to serve them, rather than anoint a self-serving political class.

Something good would happen if small business stakeholders were as politically organized and influential as other single-issue groups, like unions. If small business were a country, Wikipedia would describe Small Business USA like this: Population: 125 million (owners, employees and dependents). Economy: Largest on the planet. Contribution to society: Significant. Organized political influence for its own interests: Negligible.

What’s wrong with this picture?

With so much to contribute, Small Business America has many reasons to catch the tide of electoral fervor and become more involved in the political process. With so much at stake—challenges and opportunities—we have even more reasons to make our positions known to those who would represent us, rather than accepting policies we’re given by those who could rightly assume we don’t care.

Write this on a rock … Be a single-issue voter for your small business.

Small Business Advocate Poll: Romney and Ryan

The Question:
Mitt Romney has chosen Wisconsin Congressman, Paul Ryan, as his VP running mate. What do you think about this decision?

71% - I Great choice! Ryan will energize the GOP base and attract independents.

18% - Bad choice for Romney - good choice for Obama.

11% - Doesn’t matter - the VP candidate isn’t important.

My Comments:
One of the most widely speculated upon and most anxiously awaited announcements for the past several months, has been who Mitt Romney would choose as his Vice Presidential running-mate.

The short list included Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida, and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan. Each gentleman has critical credentials - both politically and tactically - that placed them on this short list, but none had a longer list of plusses and minuses on their balance sheet than Ryan.

Consequently, when Romney announced that Ryan was his choice, it was seen as bold and gutsy by some and suicidal by others. Because the good Congressman’s thought-leadership resulted in positions and proposals for how to get America’s fiscal house in order, conservatives call him hero and liberals call him dangerous.

We wanted to know what our small business audience thought about this pick, so last week in our online poll, we asked this question: “Mitt Romney has chosen Wisconsin Congressman, Paul Ryan, as his VP running mate. What do you think about this decision?” Here’s what we learned:

One-in-six of our respondents said, “Bad choice for Romney - good choice for Obama,” while a little more than one-in-ten allowed that it, “Doesn’t matter - the VP candidate isn’t important.” But the big group, coming in a 71%, said, “Great choice! Ryan will energize the GOP base and attract independents.”

There are two things that Romney’s opponents are worried about with regard to Ryan: 1) He’s VERY smart; and 2) he’s very likeable. Apparently even those who vehemently disagree with his positions like him, including President Clinton.

Since Ryan is from a state that hasn’t helped a Republican presidential candidate in almost 30 years, this choice cannot be seen as a politically strategic one, as the Hispanic Floridian, Rubio, would have been. So that means Ryan was a tactical choice - based more on substance than positioning.

Unlike the 11% of our sample who discount the VP impact, I predict that over the next 11 weeks Ryan’s participation will move the electorate needle. Watching which way it moves will be interesting political theater.

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Yesterday on The Small Business Advocate Show I talked more about Paul Ryan as Romney’s VP choice and the impact on the election. Take a few minutes to download or listen and let me know if you agree.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Small Business Advocate Poll: Don’t mess with small business

The Question:
As a small business owner, which political party do you think is more closely aligned with your future success?

8% - Democrats

62% - Republican

17% - Libertarian

13% - None of the above

My Commentary:
Those who are aligned with the Democrat Party came in at 8%. The big number, 62%, came from our respondents who claim the Republican Party. Libertarians represented 17% of our sample. Thirteen percent allowed they couldn’t find a political home with any of these three.

Libertarians have many political differences with Republicans. However, when it comes to policies that impact operating a business, like taxes, regulations, trade, etc., Libertarians and Republicans are usually not far apart. So, if our audience is representative of the small business sector - and I think it is - it’s reasonable to predict that this sector will break significantly for Mitt Romney on November 6.

Consequently, when the President makes statements like, “You didn’t build that,” it probably won’t hurt him too much with the small business sector, because most of them are not likely to vote for him anyway. But there is another potential effect to consider.

Polls indicate that small business owners are highly regarded by Americans. So the question is: How many independent voters will hold the President’s comments, practices and policies that seem to be unfriendly to small business, against him? It may not be many, but in battleground states, like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, it might be enough to change the outcome.

These are the kinds of nuances in the ten battleground states that will likely decide who the next president is.

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This week on The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked more about what you said about which political party you believe is more aligned with your small business’s ability to succeed. Click here to download or listen.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!




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