By Cliff Ennico
So, as a small business owner or entrepreneur, who are you going to vote for in November?
Right now it’s impossible to tell exactly where the candidates stand on issues small businesses care about because, quite frankly, they aren’t paying attention to them. Oh yes, whenever a reporter or debate moderator utters the words “small business,” out come the knee-jerk platitudes about how important small business is to the U.S. economy, how many jobs are created by small businesses, how entrepreneurs are our new superheroes, etc. But when pressed for specifics, nothing is said. Simply put, they are too busy grabbing media attention and trying to score points against each other, and small business just doesn’t make the “top ten” issues trending on Twitter and Facebook. It’s much easier to get headlines talking about illegal immigrants (many of whom own small businesses), terrorism or racial attitudes.
Yet, at the end of the day, you will have to vote for someone, even if it’s just a protest vote. How do you make your decision?
Traditionally, the Republican Party has been the party of small business. But even the G.O.P. is not making an effort to reach out to our community on the issues we care about.
In the words of the old curse, we live in “interesting times.” Regardless of who wins the White House in November, I think it’s fairly certain we can expect the following:
- A dramatic expansion of the federal government (especially in the areas of health care and social services, possibly including universal taxpayer-supported health care);
- An equally dramatic increase in the taxes necessary to pay for that government expansion (don’t believe for a minute that increases will affect only the “millionaires and billionaires” or “the one percent”);
- A pro-labor, pro-union and anti-employer tilt in federal labor and employment regulation; and
- A generally anti-business and pro-regulation bias that stems from the uncontrolled behavior of big banks that caused the 2008 financial panic but paints all believers in free enterprise (otherwise known as “capitalists”) with the same brush.
Having said that, does it really make a different who you vote for in November?
But you don’t have to stand idly by waiting for the socialist tsunami to wash you off the beach. As in so many areas of life, nothing in politics happens unless you make your views known, heard and respected.
Have you joined any of the small business lobbies such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses (www.nfib.com) or the National Small Business Association (www.nsba.biz)? If not, shame on you.
Do you know which U.S. senators sit on the Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship (www.sbc.senate.gov/public)? If not, shame on you.
Do you know which U.S. representatives sit on the House’s Small Business Committee (http://smallbusiness.house.gov/about/members_114.htm)? If not, shame on you.
If your Congressperson or Senator sits on one of these committees and you don’t know that, even bigger shame on you.
Do you listen to talk radio programs that focus on small business issues, such as Jim Blasingame’s “Small Business Advocate” program (www.smallbusinessadvocate.com) or Biz Talk Radio (www.biztalkradio.com)? If not, shame on you.
Do you plan on voting for a candidate because of his or her stand on an issue not affecting small business (for example, the Middle East), without knowing where he or she stands on the issues that matter most to your business? If yes, shame on you.
So, what should you do? Here’s a dirty little secret:
It really doesn’t matter to your business who is elected President.
It matters a lot – a WHOLE lot – which party controls the U.S. Senate and (especially) the House of Representatives, where tax and spending bills originate.
It isn’t likely Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will respond to a letter, phone call or e-mail from you (and you KNOW Ms. Clinton won’t respond to e-mails – sorry, couldn’t resist that).
But your Congressperson will. As will the person who is running against him or her.
To find out who your Congressperson and Senator are, go to www.whoismyrepresentative.com and type in your Zip Code. Then call your local Board of Elections or Registrar of Voters to find out who his or her opponent is – search for “[your city and state] Board of Elections” and you should find a website listing all candidates for local office.
Then call, write, e-mail both candidates and demand to know what they are planning to do to help small businesses and entrepreneurs in your area. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. For example, if you are selling merchandise on eBay or Amazon.com, you want to know exactly where each candidate stands on the proposed Marketplace Fairness Act (http://marketplacefairness.org) that if passed will require you to charge sales tax on all Internet sales.
As we said back in the 1960s, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” What Congress does (or does not do) has an enormous impact on your business and your life. Not voting, and not caring about the outcome, is not an option.
Cliff Ennico (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a syndicated columnist, author and host of the PBS television series ‘Money Hunt’. This column is no substitute for legal, tax or financial advice, which can be furnished only by a qualified professional licensed in your state. To find out more about Cliff Ennico and other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit our Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2016 CLIFFORD R. ENNICO. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC. Follow him at @cliffennico.