On Tuesday, January 24, President Obama will deliver the annual State of the Union address. Small business owners will quickly decode whether the speech is an official kick-off to the president's reelection campaign, or whether he intends to pursue pro-growth policies that will help entrepreneurs grow their firms and create jobs.
Here are some of the key issues that small business owners want policy details on:
Tax code stability, and no tax increases. What is the President's plan for bringing some certainty and stability to the array of tax incentives, tax rates and various provisions that either expired at the end of 2011, or are set to expire in 2012? If the president continues to call for tax increases on entrepreneurs and investors, he will continue to get the same gloomy performance from the economy. Our economy needs capital and certainty, and calling for tax increases works against both.
Health coverage affordability. The President said he would look at provisions of ObamaCare that are not working, so he needs to focus on repealing provisions that are driving cost (and will drive costs) higher, including: the health insurance tax, employer and individual mandates, the medical device manufacturers' tax, the essential benefits package, the grandfather rule and much more. Health insurance costs continue to go up, not down as promised.
Affordable energy. Fuel prices remain high, and the President needs to explain himself on the lack of progress regarding domestic energy development and production. Please explain the Keystone XL decision?
Jobs, jobs, jobs and economic growth. Small business revenues remain depressed. Consumer and business confidence remains low. Jobs will not be created given such an outlook. What is the game plan on jobs? And, again, what was the rationale for killing Keystone XL?
Access to capital. Will the President use the power of his office to push through crowd fund investing legislation? What is his plan to bolster investor confidence, and improve the economy so that capital is flowing more abundantly again?
Regulatory relief and restraint. New regulations continue to cascade out of federal government agencies and departments. Is there any plan to rein in the out-of-control central planners in the Administration?
Global trade. Are there any new deals in the works? Will the President expedite action on existing efforts to strike agreements and accords?
Government spending. What, specifically, does the President plan to cut? How, specifically, will his Administration begin to act on entitlement reforms?
Small business owners and entrepreneurs will be listening on these issues, and many more. But more than talk, they want action on pro-growth policies. They want Washington to get out of the way. Please follow SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan on twitter @KarenKerrigan during the State of the Union address. SBE Council will also post updates on Facebook.
Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO