Election Day could score for business

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

NFIB Focus – Jack Faris

It’s unfortunate that the contact sport of government has no stripe-shirted referees with whistles and yellow flags to toss like they do in professional football games. Wouldn’t it be great to have referees at the line of legislative scrimmage that could stop the game between lawmakers and small-business owners, announce violations of fairness and penalize the rule-breakers?

Instead of calling clipping violations, the refs could penalize politicians when they sneak last-minute taxes or hidden costs into bills, deliberately blind-siding entrepreneurs who were headed toward their goals, but then brought down from behind by foul play.

Yellow flags could also mark wrongful acts by legislators who pile on burdensome regulations or unfairly interfere in the business practices of those struggling against the odds to achieve the American Dream.

Unnecessary roughness at the hands of bureaucratic regulators ought to draw screeching whistles of enforcement from the officials, as should unsportsmanlike conduct against those who use power and position for unfair advantage.

And as the clock winds down towards Election Day, the noticeable intentional delays, illegal motions and partisan off sides could be stopped before irreparable harm was inflicted on Team Free Enterprise.

Fairness has always been a hallmark of small-business owners. They know that to compete in the marketplace, they must meet society’s standards of honesty, decency and fair treatment of all who visit their places of business.

They would be happy if their only competition were other enterprises that challenged them for their customers. But they face an even stronger competitor, one that not only fails to play by the rules, but also changes or even makes up the rules as the game goes along.

Two clear examples of legislative unfairness are evident in the federal lawmakers’ handling of health insurance and taxes. Small-business owners, who can least afford to pay for medical benefits for their employees, are refused the advantages offered to large corporations and labor unions.

Yet when they make a clear case for small-business health plans (also called Association Health Plans) that would enable them to provide affordable health plans for their employees, many elected officials who could aid in achieving that goal fumble around and take excessive time-outs to go home and campaign, blocking progress at every turn.

Repeal of the death tax also suffers from this same defensive strategy by Capitol Hill lawmakers, who have punted more than once when the time came to tough it out and make the repeal permanent.

There are no more eligible receivers due fairness and honest treatment than those who have, through their toil, sweat and sacrifice, raised the United States to its global economic championship status. Lawmakers who block small business must be ejected from the game.

With the Super Bowl of politics just nine months away, America’s entrepreneurs will view the November 2 election as a fourth-and-goal opportunity to score points on these vital issues. They can do it through grassroots teamwork-getting other small-business owners, their employees and their families registered and to the polls on Election Day.

Jack Faris is president of NFIB (the National Federation of Independent Business), the nation’s largest small-business advocacy group.