The new Congress convenes on January 5, 2011, and SBE Council is working with the new leadership and committee chairman and staff on efforts to advance pro-entrepreneur measures to boost the economy and encourage small business growth, hiring and investment. There is much work ahead to advance legislation that will untangle the mess of the past year or more which is crimping investment and compounding uncertainty.
The President's team at the White House is aware of SBE Council's agenda. We have briefed them about our concerns regarding the new health care and financial overhaul laws (as well as various other regulatory initiatives) in terms of how they will, or could, hurt small businesses. We continue to meet with his economic team and advisors with the hope that they begin to understand that government-imposed burdens have a real impact on investment, job creation, economic growth and U.S. competitiveness. Already, the per-worker cost of federal regulation amounts to $10,585 for small firms, according to the SBA Office of Advocacy. (For small manufacturers, the per-employee cost is $22,000.) These numbers do not include all the new regulations implemented during the past year or more.
The issues SBE Council will focus on in 2011 include:
Tax Reform: The tax system is a mess - need we say more? SBE Council will work to secure a stable and competitive pro-growth, pro-entrepreneur tax system.
Affordable Health Care: Paring back the most costly and damaging aspects of the new health care law (tax hikes, employer and individual mandates, anti-competitive regulatory measures, expanded 1099 reporting, etc.) is a key priority. SBE Council will support repeal of the law and push for measures that will actually lower health care costs and increase competitive choices.
Regulatory Restraint and Accountability: Federal government agencies and departments are out-of-control. Quite simply, there is no accountability. Regulatory activists have lost touch with reality. From the EPA to Labor and beyond, SBE Council will be supporting various efforts to overrule regulatory proposals via congressional review. We will also make sure Congress is conducting aggressive oversight, which will help to curtail regulatory extremism in general.
Government Spending: SBE Council members have spoken loud and clear on the need to cut government spending and get our fiscal house in order. We will support measures that reduce spending, and reform entitlements.
Energy Production: The U.S. needs to produce more energy -- period. Gas prices are rising and with diminished production we are on an unsustainable course, which will require us to import even greater levels of oil and gas. Extreme anti-energy forces in government are hurting consumers, small businesses and U.S. competitiveness. SBE Council will work with our allies in Congress and the business community to reverse the anti-energy trend.
Trade: SBE Council remains a supporter of the South Korea trade deal, and will push the White House to complete existing trade accords. The U.S. needs to get back in the game on trade as we are losing ground to competitors. Opening additional global markets will provide small business owners with growth opportunities. SBE Council will remain the leading small business voice in urging the Administration to make trade a priority.
Broadband Investment and Expansion: Broadband remains a critical tool for small business competitiveness, and growth opportunities. While SBE Council will continue to work with the FCC on its national plan to ensure all business owners have access to broadband, we will watch for regulatory intrusions that undermine investment and innovation. Private sector investment is central to broadband deployment and increased capacity. The federal government must maintain a light regulatory touch with regard to the Internet.
Access to Capital and Credit: Existing government rules are undercutting access to capital. At the same time, new regulations being pursued under the auspices of the financial overhaul bill passed last year have the potential to further restrict access to capital and credit. Proposed Federal Reserve rules and forthcoming Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulations could make a currently challenging problem much worse for small business owners. SBE Council will stave off intrusive rules, and make sure the new CFPB is following a congressionally-imposed mandate that it not advance regulations which negatively impact entrepreneurs' ability to access affordable capital and credit.
IP Protection: Placing a priority on IP protection and enforcement - at home and abroad - is a timely economic and legal strategy that will help stimulate the economy through job creation, enabling innovation, increasing tax revenues as well as ensuring the U.S. maintains its global leadership. Enhancing IP will encourage more entrepreneurs to pursue overseas markets as many do not engage internationally for fear of theft, and lack of resources to fight infringement. The Administration has several efforts underway that SBE Council is supporting. We will continue to advocate for initiatives in Congress that advance IP protections.
Of course, there are many other issues and projects that SBE Council will pursue to ensure America's small business owners are protected, and entrepreneurship can thrive.
Indeed, 2011 will a busy year. I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO