Tag Archive for 'politics'

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.

What politicians, small business and mice have in common

Almost 20 years ago, Dr. Spencer Johnson wrote a legendary book titled, Who Moved My Cheese? It tells a story about four characters who ate only cheese.

Early in the story all four characters went to the same place in their world – a maze – to get cheese. The first two were not picky about their cheese or where they found it – it was just food. In fact, the current place in the maze where they found and ate cheese was literally just that. So when someone moved their cheese, they immediately started looking for the new place where cheese was being put.
For the second two characters in Johnson’s story, cheese represented more than food; they had allowed themselves to become defined by the specific cheese found in that specific place in the maze. To them, this cheese was more than nourishment, it also represented their esteem, success and happiness. You’ve heard of being hidebound. Well you might say these two were cheesebound (my term, not Johnson’s), which really wasn’t a problem until someone moved their cheese.

Twenty-five years ago, in his book (and film), Paradigms: The Business of Discovering the Future, futurist Joel Barker defined a paradigm as a set of rules that: 1) establishes/defines boundaries; and 2) tells you how to be successful within those boundaries. Barker says paradigms, both written and unwritten, can be useful until there’s a shift, which is what happened to the cheesebound characters in Johnson’s story. When someone moved their cheese, instead of looking for new cheese like their maze-mates, they whined and dithered so long in the old place – now devoid of cheese – that they put their survival in jeopardy.

Johnson’s cautionary tale – and the two sides of Barker’s paradigm coin – apply to all parts of life, especially politics and business.

For generations, the Democrat and Republican Parties each showed up at the same corner of their own political maze where they had always found the same cheese. Like the second characters in Johnson’s story, both parties had been nourished and defined by the cheese they found in that specific spot. But when someone moved their cheese, as the electorate is doing now, the cheesebound members whine and struggle to maintain their identity instead of taking action to find new cheese. In his book Johnson says, “Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.”

Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are like the first two characters in Johnson’s story. Neither define themselves by the old cheese in the old location. They went looking for and, to the surprise of their party leadership, found new cheese. Johnson says, “Movement in a new direction helps you find the new cheese.”

Small business owners should watch the clinic that the Democrats and Republicans are putting on this year on the wages of being cheesebound. Like the electorate, customers are moving cheese and shifting paradigms all over the marketplace. You cannot afford to become cheesebound.

Write this on a rock … Blasingame’s Law of Business Love: It’s okay to fall in love with what you do, but it’s not okay to fall in love with how you do it.

The politics of the Supreme Court

By now, you know that one of the great Supreme Court justices in the history of our country passed away unexpectedly. Even those who disagreed with almost every decision Antonin Scalia ever cast had immense regard for him and his work. Indeed, Scalia and his liberal alter ego on the court, Justice Ginsberg, had been best friends for decades, even before they were on the nation’s highest court.

In our online poll this week, we asked you to weigh in on the debate about the process for replacing him. Here were the responses and my comments:

20% - The president should nominate a replacement and the Senate confirm this year.
23% - They should start the process to see if a replacement can be confirmed this year.
16% - The president should not nominate a replacement in his last year in office.
41% - Even if a replacement is nominated, the Senate should not confirm this year.

Only one-in-five of respondents to our first option think the president and Senate should just get along together and do their business this year. But there are circumstances that complicate this logical and Constitutional scenario, like ideological balance of the bench and the impending election to replace the sitting president. Kumbayah will not be part of this scenario

I kinda like the second group, representing almost one-fourth of our sample, because they’re saying, regardless of the politics, both parties should just give it their best shot in the process of doing their job. Everyone knows the president is going to nominate and the Senate is likely going to reject. So quit jawboning and get to work.

The third group is the smallest, with 16%, who think the president should just stand down on this issue, since he’s out the door in less than a year. But even though he likely knows he’s not going to get a nominee confirmed, he will at least be able to use the rejection to help his party. It’s politics, and any president of either party would do it.

The largest group, at 41%, is the most troubled by the imbalance of the Supreme Court. They’re counting on a party change in the White House next year, and maintaining the majority party in the Senate. For now this group, and the Senate, are in the catbird seat.

Just when you thought the political season couldn’t get any weirder or more complicated, with a socialist and a billionaire running for president, the arch-conservative Justice on a tightly divided Court dies, leaving his replacement up to a president who is his polar opposite politically. As I’ve written before, we continue to live the Chinese Curse: May you live in interesting times.

To take this week’s poll on the US economy and your small business sales in Q1, click here.

Jim Blasingame’s 2016 Crystal Ball Predictions

Here is the 16th edition of my New Year predictions.

· Wall Street’s digital greed, Washington’s anti-business policies and collusion between the two continue to create a moribund Main Street economic environment for small businesses.

· With a declining global economy and having exhausted financial manipulation options since 2008, capital markets will struggle in 2016.

· Main Street small businesses that are mature and established will fare well in 2016.

· Economic and regulatory pressures, plus demographic trends will perpetuate an unprecedented population decline in small businesses.

· New Crowdfunding rules lowering the standards for direct investment in small businesses will not become a funding silver bullet for this sector.

· Unlike its investor equity sibling, Crowdfunding lending will proliferate across the small business sector (especially with Generation Y) at the expense of traditional banks.

· Global headwinds, the specter of terrorism, seven years of anti-business policies from the Obama administration, and the unprecedented drama of presidential politics will all contribute to a flat 2016 economy, with annual GDP stuck below 2.5%.

· The perfect storm of a slowing global economy, a crude oil glut, newly approved exports from U.S. producers and OPEC’s loss of pricing power, will keep crude averaging below $50 per barrel.

· Slow global growth and deflationary threats will prevent the Fed from making more than one rate increase in 2016, if that.

· Due to the sustained price decline in crude oil, Putin and Iran will become more desperate and dangerous, using nationalism to distract citizens from their declining economies.

·  In an unprecedented response to ISIS, moderate Muslims around the globe will denounce intolerance and violence in the name of their religion in more actively claiming their role as the 21st century stewards of Islam.

· You will hear more about blockchains and distributed-ledger technology applications, disconnected from Bitcoin. This is very complicated stuff, but it’s the future of currency and capital management, so just start learning.

·  A mere shadow of its former self, Obamacare will continue to collapse under its own structural defects, causing the President’s namesake policy to go from legacy icon to caricature.

·  Already referred to by pundits as “the lawless president,” in his last year Obama will increase his assault on the Constitution with more unprecedented, and now desperate, executive actions.

· Obama’s newest Constitutional assault will be on the 2nd Amendment. Buckle up.

· Obama’s Justice Department will not indict Hillary Clinton in 2016, but as evidence of her lying achieves critical mass it will cost HRC Millennial votes, who value honesty over political ideology.

· The GOP primary process will not produce an apparent nominee going into their convention, unless it’s Trump or Cruz.

· Republicans will not win the White House unless the ticket includes a Hispanic and at least one person from Ohio and/or Florida. Look for Trump/Rubio or Cruz/Kasich.

· The social conservatism of Republicans and the socialistic economics of Democrats will create electoral challenges for both parties in 2016.

· If Trump wins the election, it will be because he’s the only candidate most likely to avoid defending the bankrupt elements of either party.

·  A liberal member of the Supreme Court will exit in 2016, probably in the first half.

· With every member of Generation Y, aka Millennials (80+ million born 1978-1998), old enough to vote in 2016, the electoral influence by this generation is now at critical mass.

· More than just a president, the 2016 election results will reveal the future trajectory of liberty and opportunity in America.

· Alabama will become the NCAA Football Division I Champion.

Write this on a rock …My 15-year record is almost 73% accuracy. Politics may put that average in jeopardy this year.

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

POLL RESULTS: If you watched the last GOP debate, what did you think about how CNBC moderated it?

The Question:

If you watched the last GOP debate, what did you think about how CNBC moderated it?

0% - I thought CNBC handled the debate just right.
79% - A profound demonstration of liberal media bias against Republicans.
10% - Some questions were inappropriate, but overall it was handled well.
11% - Didn’t watch.

Jim’s Comments:
Not surprised that John Harwood was so snarky toward the Republican candidates in the CNBC debate. And not surprised Becky Quick and Carl Quintanilla looked like lightweights. But was surprised CNBC didn’t rise above the slant of their mothership, NBC, and do the job they were supposed to do: moderate a debate about the economic positions of the candidates.
If eight-of-ten of our respondents saw the blatant bias, so did millions of viewers. In their attempt to diminish the stature of the Republicans, the moderators revealed the pervasive mainstream media bias and how it often manifests as small and unprofessional behavior.
And talk about irony. CNBC’s moderating performance was so bad, it actually helped the Republicans.
Thanks for playing along. Please participate in this week’s poll below.
http://survey.constantcontact.com/poll/a07ebt51vt8igo658b9/start.html

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.




Warning: fsockopen() [function.fsockopen]: php_network_getaddresses: getaddrinfo failed: Temporary failure in name resolution in /var/www/wordpress/wp-includes/class-snoopy.php on line 1142

Warning: fsockopen() [function.fsockopen]: unable to connect to twitter.com:80 (Unknown error) in /var/www/wordpress/wp-includes/class-snoopy.php on line 1142