Small Business Focus: Small business plans for Nov. 5

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 16, 2002


A few weeks from now, Americans will have an opportunity to exercise that most sacred of all rights and responsibilities: voting. Casting our ballots on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November is about as American as it gets.

Although history tells us that voter participation often wanes when there is no presidential contest to spark interest, you can bet that those entrepreneurs whose small businesses line Main Street America are just itching to get behind the curtains and mark their ballots.

They’re preparing to say “thank you” to those courageous lawmakers who had the guts to stand with them through some very difficult and politically dangerous debates during their congressional careers.

They’re already doing their research. For many, their source is the bi-annual report, “How Congress Voted,” compiled by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). That publication serves as a report card for who’s been naughty or nice during key policy votes on Capitol Hill.

In late September, NFIB presented its coveted Guardian of Small Business Awards to senators and epresentatives who supported the small-business community at least 70 percent of the time on key votes in this Congress. Those who walked away with their trophies were eager to get back home and tell their constituents they stood solidly with the small-business sector, which today is comprised of 99 percent of the nation’s employers, providing jobs and livelihoods for more than half of the private workforce.

Earning a Guardian Award is no cakewalk. Those who withstood the pressure from tax-and-spend, anti-business forces should be commended for their courage and honored at the ballot box.

They fought for tax relief, particularly reducing marginal income tax rates and eliminating the death tax. They beat back the Clinton administration’s burdensome and potentially costly ergonomics regulations, knowing that if implemented, the rules would have buried small firms in government paperwork and exposed them to frivolous lawsuits.

These gutsy lawmakers never wavered in the face of efforts to limit legal liability for the little guy. Key votes on such ominous issues as Superfund liability and medical malpractice, plus vital decisions to shield small firms from liability for actions of health insurance companies that cover their employees, were made with courage during the most difficult of legislative battles.

Friends of small business in the House and Senate cast key votes, attempting to give firms on Main Street access to the same health insurance cost breaks that labor unions and big businesses already have. Those Guardians of Small Business also supported legislation allowing small businesses to increase the amount of equipment purchases that they can expense under IRS regulations.

They stood squarely by the side of small business against unfair competition by a partially government-owned corporation, Federal Prison Industries, which enjoys preferential access to government contracts.

Small-business owners have marked Nov. 5 on their company calendars. It’s a great day to say “thank you” at the ballot box to those who took their legislative responsibilities seriously and voted to protect America’s greatest economic resource-and it’s a day to say “no” to lawmakers who did not.

JACK FARIS is president of the National Federation of Small Businesses, the nation’s largest advocacy group for small businesses.