On June 12, the Main Street Alliance and the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of new scientific polling of small business owners views on retirement security. On the heels of a Pew study revealing dwindling retirement preparedness for most Americans, the new poll shows that small business owners see threats to business and the economy from the lack of retirement security.
While corporate CEOs are pressuring Congress to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a so-called "Grand Bargain" to reduce the debt, small business owners say that cuts to Social Security and Medicare would be devastating to small businesses across the country.
A new series of reports from the Main Street Alliance and Social Security Works, Business is (Baby) Booming, analyze the important role Social Security and Medicare play in both strengthening the retirement security of small business owners themselves, and fueling consumer demand on Main Street in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Instead of cutting Social Security and Medicare, small business owners say Congress should crack down on offshore tax abuse that allows the wealthy and corporations to avoid more than $100 billion in U.S. taxes per year by sheltering their income offshore.
State "Business is (Baby) Booming" Reports
- Washington, D.C.
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Small business owners see corporate tax loopholes and accounting gimmicks used to shift U.S. profits offshore to avoid taxes as serious problems, according to independent nationwide opinion polling released on February 6. Small business owners say big corporations and the wealthy don’t pay their fair share of taxes. They support increasing taxes on millionaire incomes, allowing high-end tax cuts to expire, and closing the carried interest loophole that gives big tax breaks to hedge fund managers.
These are among the key findings of a scientific nationwide survey of small business owners commissioned by the American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance and Small Business Majority.
Small business leaders in the Main Street Alliance network sent an open letter to U.S. Senators urging them to amend the Jump-start Our Business Start-ups Act that passed the House recently. In the letter, they wrote:
"Rolling back basic transparency rules, like SEC registration, won’t help small businesses. Instead, it will tilt the playing field toward unscrupulous actors who are looking to game the system. That sounds like recreating the same atmosphere that brought about the 2008 financial crisis. We urge you not to do that."
Florida small business owners participating in a recent survey want large corporations to pay more taxes, believe the foreclosure situation is having a negative impact on their customer base, and support the creation of a new competitive marketplace for purchasing health insurance. These are among the key findings of the report Taking the Pulse of Florida Small Businesses, a report based on a face-to-face survey of small business owners released in Orlando on February 29 by the Community Business Association, Organize Now, and the Main Street Alliance. Click here to read the full report.
On February 1, the Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, and the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a national poll of small businesses on regulations and job creation.
The poll found that small business owners’ main concern is weak customer demand, not regulations. When asked what would do the most to create jobs, small business owners’ top response was eliminating incentives to move jobs overseas. Reducing regulation came in fifth place. In fact, most small business owners see government standards as an important tool to level the playing field with big business.
Click here to listen to an interview with Jim Houser (owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Oregon and co-chair of the Main Street Alliance of Oregon).
The Main Street Alliance, Small Business Majority, and the American Sustainable Business Council released the results of a national poll of small businesses on access to credit and proposals to boost the economy.
A few days ago, the Main Street Alliance asked small business owners to share what they wanted to hear the President talk about in his upcoming State of the Union address.
We asked: “As a small business owner, what policies would you like to hear the President put forward in the State of the Union Address as part of a vision for supporting small businesses and building an economy that works for the 99 percent in 2012?”
Here are some excerpts from responses we got:
Deborah, owner of a printing and design company in Oregon:
“Help Americans who are having problems with their mortgages – by helping them not lose their homes, they will have more discretionary income to spend and that income can be used to support their local businesses.
“Eliminate tax breaks for large corporations – if they are not keeping their money in the U.S., they should not receive tax breaks.
“And keep on creating jobs – we are a consumer-driven economy and without jobs, Americans do not have money to consume which causes a snowball effect and decreases sales for small businesses.”
Mario, owner of a tax preparation business in Illinois:
“Shine a light on corporate political spending that tilts the playing field against small businesses.”
Bob, owner of a professional training business in Ohio:
“Small and micro businesses do not worry about regulations and taxes. We worry about consumer demand and consumer confidence that promotes business growth. The one percent worry about taxes and regulations so they can play the system to their own advantage.”
Jim, owner of an auto repair shop in Oregon:
“We have so many hard working Americans who can't find jobs. Right here in Portland, many young people are looking for work. They joined the Occupy movement to get some attention for their plight. We have so much work that needs to be done. Teachers need to be rehired, schools and other public buildings need to be upgraded for energy efficiency. And, according to the Wall Street Journal, some of our biggest corporations are hoarding trillions of dollars right now. If they and other wealthy Americans were paying their fair share in taxes, this country would have the money necessary to engage small businesses to hire people into meaningful work, and I would have customers again. When the economy gets back on its feet, then we’ll have the tax revenues needed to pay down our deficit.”
Jose, owner of a real estate agency in Oregon:
“We, small business owners, are an optimistic bunch. We also get right to the point. We need the State of the Union address to set the tone for a great 2012. We do not have a lot of time to complain, as we have to work with the hand we are dealt. The one issue which would bring me more customers and allow me to hire more employees is comprehensive immigration reform. Our housing industry is stalled and motivating a new generation of homebuyers to enter the market will be a big step in the right direction. Our immigration system has to be fixed...let's do it right this time!”
Halcyon, owner of a retail shop in Maine:
“By reducing military spending and ending the wars, we will be able to afford to offer every citizen the basic coverages of health care, increasing job security and mobility, and business formation. We’ll be able to reduce business expenses substantially for Main Street businesses in low population, greying regions of our country – like rural Maine – and make sure fewer of our health care dollars go into the pockets of corporations and more into the delivery of health care.”
Kelly, owner of a custom woodworking business in New Jersey:
“I would like to hear the President talk about 'Real American Companies' and highlight the real contributions they make by employing people here, paying taxes here, and investing here. The President could announce a program to recognize and reward ‘Real American Companies.’ I keep thinking of a heavy machinery company that could build their machines in China, but they don’t. They have kept American jobs – high skill, high paying jobs – here, along with profits and reinvestment, so they should get a business version of the Medal of Freedom.
“This award could include a ‘Presidential Flag’ to be flown outside the corporate headquarters of companies that have won the award. Of course, we could have another award – a corporate turkey award – for companies that cheat on their taxes, move profits and jobs offshore, or manipulate the law in other ways to cheat their employees and the communities that support them.”
Big bank lobbyists have been putting on a full-court press in Washington, DC to roll back components of the financial overhaul passed last year and free Wall Street to go back to the "business as usual" that led to the financial crisis in 2008.
The bankers are gunning for the new Consumer Protection Bureau and attempting to block the confirmation of a director for the bureau. They're lobbying to starve regulatory agencies of the funds needed to enforce the provisions of the new law. And on the Senate floor on June 8, they went after small businesses with an amendment to delay (read, kill) new rules limiting debit swipe fees. But this time, the bankers lost.
The bank-backed amendment needed 60 votes to pass, and it fell six votes short on Wednesday (see the roll call of the vote – no party line vote here, unless you draw the lines of a new "Party of Wall Street"). This vote was a big win for small businesses, stopping big banks and the card company duopoly from walking away with an extra $1 billion a month in exorbitant swipe fees.
Leaders in the Main Street Alliance led the charge of small businesses fighting back against the banks' lobbying onslaught. While the inside-the-beltway small business lobbies (like the NFIB) sat on the sidelines, MSA business owners made calls, signed letters, and organized their business contacts to make their voices heard.
Mike Craighill, owner of the Soup and Such restaurants in Billings, Montana wrote an op-ed in The Hill on June 9 recapping the victory. Mike wrote:
As the owner of two family restaurants that cater to a daytime business clientele, I know a thing or two about serving up a good lunch. And, in the run-up to Wednesday's Senate vote on the amendment to delay new rules limiting debit swipe fees, I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that big banks were going to eat our lunch… again.
But, to my surprise and delight – and thanks in large part to small business owners from Maine to Iowa to Washington State who contacted their Senators and make their voices heard - Wall Street bankers didn't win this time. They didn't eat our lunch.
MSA leader Mary Noel Black, owner of The UPS Store at Citiplace in Baton Rouge, Louisiana had this to say reflecting on the significance of the vote:
The massive transfer of wealth from our local economies, from places like Greeley, Colorado and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to the Manhattan penthouses of bank executives has been slowed. This vote confirms that the new swipe fee limits will move forward, and small businesses will be freed from exorbitant interchange fees that have hindered our ability to grow and create jobs.
The Senate's vote also confirmed that it’s possible to stand up to the big banks and win… and that small businesses banding together and making their voices heard are a force to be reckoned with.
The House of Representatives is expected to consider a bill shortly that would bring about a major overhaul of rule-making processes that set rules for the financial sector, public health and environmental standards, workplace healthy and safety, and other public safeguards.
The Regulatory Accountability Act (or RAA) is being promoted on the pretext of helping small businesses. But real small business owners aren’t buying the anti-regulatory hype. Indeed, in poll after poll and interview after interview, small business owners say what they need to grow and create jobs is more customers, not deregulation.
We asked leaders in the Main Street Alliance network to share their take on the Regulatory Accountability Act and the broader debate about cutting regulations in the name of small business. Here’s what some of them had to say:
Kelly Conklin co-owns Foley-Waite Associates, a custom woodworking business in Bloomfield, New Jersey:
“The Regulatory Accountability Act is just the next example of attempting to shift risk and shift costs from big businesses to small businesses. This bill would gut rules and standards that protect small businesses, the communities where we live and work, and the customers we rely on for our livelihoods.
“I’d like to know, how will rolling back financial standards and allowing another financial crisis help small businesses? How will rolling back environmental rules and allowing another BP spill help small businesses? To hear these proposals being marketed in the name of helping small businesses, it’s just infuriating. This is small business identity theft – using our good name to push an agenda that benefits narrow special interests at our expense.
“Once again the political ambitions of a few are being placed above economic recovery, environmental common sense and the health and safety of small business owners, our employees, and the communities we serve.”
Jim Houser owns Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Oregon:
“These attacks on basic regulatory standards are misguided at best. They completely miss – or ignore – the fact that standards and regulations create jobs and support innovation.
“Just look at my industry, auto repair. In our sector, smart, focused automobile emission standards protect the air we breathe, provide needed employment for the nation’s repair technicians who keep our vehicles running clean, and promote innovations that help U.S. companies be on the cutting edge of new automotive technologies.”
Garry Ault owns All Makes Vacuum in Boise, Idaho:
“I’ve been trying to sell my small business and retire for over a year. I had to cut the selling price back to the point where I would make only $1,500 more than I paid for my business in 1980. Why? Because of the policies of the last 20 years that deregulated our financial sector, encouraged reckless gambling on Wall Street, and precipitated the 2008 financial crisis and this Second Great Depression small businesses are struggling to pull through today.
“Deregulation is a scam – it helps the big guys at the little guy’s expense. Our politicians have got to know that by now, and if they do then there’s just no excuse for pushing this agenda that’s going to hurt small businesses even more.”
Melanie Collins owns Melanie’s Home Childcare in Falmouth, Maine:
“Deregulation that helps narrow, big business interests – like banks, insurers, and oil companies – has the reverse effect on small businesses, who are the majority of our job creators. Compromising environmental protections and the ability to maintain healthy communities with a healthy customer base is counterproductive to small business job creation and an economically vibrant future.
“What small businesses need are customers – Americans with spending money in their pockets – not deregulation that gives big corporations free reign to cut corners, use their market power at our expense, and force even more small businesses to lay people off and close up shop.”