I began running a business when I was only 20 years old. Back then it if you worked hard and followed the rules; you had a pretty good shot at getting ahead.
Today it seems the deck is increasingly stacked against those who work hard and pursue their own dreams, especially if you are a business owner.
More and more, we are faced with constant uncertainty caused by Washington’s inability to take action on today’s pressing problems. This failure results in uncertainty with tax rates, near chaos in the markets and a never ending stream of impractical regulations handed down from misinformed bureaucrats. A cloud of doubt is rising over our entire economy. For most business owners, it is a daily struggle just to keep the doors open in large part because government is a constant obstacle.
The National Federation of Independent Businesses recently released figures from December’s “Small Business Optimism Index” indicating the mood of businesses is at a recession level. These businesses and hardworking Americans that make up the economic backbone of every city and town in the nation have little sense of what fiscal scenario to plan for stability.
“Seventy percent of owners surveyed characterized the current period as a bad time to expand; one in four of them cite political uncertainty as the top reason. Taxes (23 percent) and regulations (21 percent) rank as the top two business problems, with ‘poor sales’ as a close third (19 percent),” according to the NFIB’s press release.
Acme Engineering & Manufacturing Corporation President Lee Buddrus of Muskogee sees the effect of the sluggish economy on other small companies with which he does business.
“I deal with a lot of small businesses across the country, and they are really struggling,” the Muskogee businessman said.
Buddres said that many of those small companies were able to make it through the recession but had to go into debt to stay afloat.
“Now they are not able to make the kind of money they need to pay down their debts,” he said.
I join a small group of members in Congress who have owned a business. I have felt the weight of the current hostile business climate and faced unprecedented difficulty in ensuring my business succeeded. I step onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives with a first-hand understanding of how high are the hurdles that a business must jump over in order to succeed.
This week, President Obama was sworn in to his second term. Just four years ago, in his first inauguration, the President said:
“The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.”
Unfortunately, what we have seen from this President hasn’t worked. Fancy speeches are not helping business owners create more jobs. Gridlock isn’t helping business owners create more jobs. Reckless spending isn’t helping create more jobs.
At the time of the President’s first inauguration the national unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. Today it is exactly the same at 7.8 percent. While the rate of employment has stagnated, the national debt has not. In those four years of failed Obama policies the nation added six trillion dollars of new debt onto the backs of citizens and businesses. Today, our national debt stands at $16.4 trillion. Broken down by American citizen that’s $52,210 for every man, woman and child in this country.
So what can be done to get back on the right track and bring optimism into the business climate?
First, we must peel back some of the regulations that bind the hands of the job creators. For every excessive regulation that businesses are forced to comply with, it takes away from their central focus: providing a good or service to the public.
Second, Congress must make the difficult decisions we were elected to make and restrain government spending. Businesses cannot grow or expand in a climate of higher interest rates and higher taxes.
Third, we have to be about creating a jobs friendly environment. I came to Congress as a businessman who got fed up with government hindering my ability to create jobs. I am not a politician, nor had I ever run for public office. My mission every day is to make it easier for businesses to start, to expand and to be successful.
In business, we know that first, you must face the problem honestly and then come up with real solutions that actually solve the problems you face, not make the problems worse.
The economic policy of having government spend our way to prosperity has failed. Those of us in business know it is the private sector that creates real jobs, not the government.
Strong leadership and meaningful reforms are needed to remove the looming cloud of doubt from our economy. Adding more hurdles and bureaucracy will not get the job done.