What Small Business Needs

With the nation’s first African-American president working to put the final touches on his first 100 days’ agenda and assemble a Cabinet, we believe an overriding issue facing the next administration is the state of the economy, especially after the crisis in the financial markets. Now that action has been taken to stabilize the credit markets, we need to look to the needs of those who will drive the economic recovery: Small business owners.
The good news is both candidates focused on small business — especially when it came to health care and tax issues.
With that in mind, we’d like to offer President-elect Barak Obama a plan designed to help Main Street business owners do what they do best: Create jobs and run their businesses effectively.
We believe a series of legislative actions should lower the cost of running a small business and prevent Congress from piling on fresh costs during an economic downturn — in other words, the worst possible time for new regulations.
Todd Stottlemyer, president and chief executive of the National Federation of Independent Business, makes 10 suggestions:
1. Pass the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP Act, which would lower the cost of health insurance by providing tax credits, market pooling, ratings reforms and administrative cost savings.
2. Pass health information technology legislation to streamline record-keeping, reduce errors and create efficiencies in the health care system that cut costs.
3. Make the current marginal rate tax cuts permanent, keeping individual and Sub-S tax rates low.
4. Make small business expensing permanent at a level of $250,000 per year, while ensuring that expensing and bonus depreciation provisions don’t penalize small business owners who are unable to place new equipment in service in the same year the purchase is made.
5. Eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax.
6. Enact permanent federal estate tax relief with a $5 million per person exemption and a tax rate no higher than the top marginal rate.
7. Create a small business net operating loss carry-back extension that allows small business owners to offset taxes paid in previous years with this year’s losses.
8. Defeat the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card-check legislation, which would significantly raise the cost of wages and benefits for newly unionized small businesses.
9. Defeat any attempts to expand the Family Medical Leave Act to smaller businesses, which can’t afford to pay for the required leave.
10. Defeat any attempt to require small businesses to offer paid sick leave to employees.
For sure, it is an ambitious agenda for the next Congress. Let’s hope that policy-makers remember their words from the campaign trail, understand challenges that small business owners face and act quickly to ensure that those businesses continue to thrive and grow.

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