John Arensmeyer is the founder & CEO of Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization. In this op-ed, he unveils SBM’s economic agenda, a series of policy recommendations aimed at creating an environment where entrepreneurs—and the economy—can thrive.
Washington spends a lot of time talking about the importance of small businesses – but not nearly enough time passing legislation that actually helps small businesses grow and thrive.
Small businesses create two-thirds of all new jobs, and have supported 55 percent of all jobs since the 1970s. In cities hit hard by the recession, like Detroit, small employers have been particularly vital in rebuilding struggling neighborhoods. And, entrepreneurs continue to be leaders in innovating and finding better ways to solve old problems.
Clearly, small businesses are crucial to keeping our economy humming and our communities strong. Yet, Washington is more focused on paying lip service to small businesses than actually passing policies that help them thrive.
Over the last year, Congress has consistently prioritized political posturing over real legislative progress for small businesses. Small business owners have faced constant economic instability stemming from politically motivated standoffs and looming threats of government shutdowns. Meanwhile, Washington has largely failed to pass productive legislation that can truly help entrepreneurs.
Plus, big business is still getting the lion’s share of attention from Congress – including around $63 billion in annual federal subsidies and tax breaks for Fortune 500 companies. Small businesses shouldn’t be getting the short end of the stick just because they can’t afford to spend big bucks on campaign donations and lobbying.
Small business owners work hard to keep our communities vibrant and create good jobs. They want – and deserve – more than just lip service from Congress.
Small Business Majority is committed to creating a stronger business climate for small businesses. That’s why we’ve released our annual Economic Agenda for America’s Future. The Agenda is a set of actionable policy recommendations that will ensure an environment where entrepreneurs, and our economy, can grow and thrive. This list includes items that can be tackled not only by Congress but also by Washington as a whole over the next few months. If lawmakers take action on even one or two of these policies, they’ll play a key role in bolstering small businesses and our overall economy.
Small businesses make up 99 percent of businesses in the United States – and almost every policy area impacts small businesses in some way. Therefore, our recommendations encompass a range of policy areas, from taxes, infrastructure and healthcare to access to capital and exports. Every one of these recommendations has a single goal: creating opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Here are just a few of the ways in which Washington can create greater opportunity for entrepreneurs during the coming months:
• The Securities and Exchange Commission can release final rules for crowdfunding to provide small businesses more opportunities to secure capital and invest in the growth of their businesses.
• Congress can take action to support the growing freelance economy by tackling tax issues impacting the self-employed, such as healthcare tax equity, and passing the Community Broadband Act to ensure everyone has access to reliable broadband service.
• Congress can expand support for the State Small Business Credit Initiative, which funds new and existing state programs that support lending to and investment in small businesses.
• Congress can pass long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank to ensure small businesses (for whom nearly 90 percent of its transactions were for in 2014) have the ability to compete for customers in the global market.
• The Administration can create an online interface allowing small business owners to opt-in for automatic sharing of specific tax data between the IRS and online lenders, which will streamline the lending process.
• Congress can pass the Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2015, which would permanently raise the small business expensing (sometimes called Section 179 expensing) level to $500,000, and allow small businesses to deduct up-front the cost of purchasing new equipment, software and property.
These examples are just a few of the actions Washington can take to help small business over the next two years. More details and the complete Agenda can be found here.
Small businesses are doing their part when it comes to building our economy, creating nearly 2 million of the roughly 3 million private-sector jobs generated in 2014. But at the end of the day, small businesses can only do so much until Washington steps up to support them.
Our political leaders need to stop talking about how to help America’s Main Street and start taking action – and they can start by moving forward with these recommendations.
Small businesses are focused on creating jobs and strengthening our communities. Congress should stand with them.