Failure To Raise The Debt Ceiling Is Bad For Business

Huffington Post

Headlines have dubbed it “unthinkable,” and businesses small and large have urged lawmakers for months to agree soon to ensure the country doesn’t default on its debt. But next week’s August 2 deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling looms, and a recent deal that could have resolved the issue fell through because some lawmakers couldn’t abide elimination of special tax breaks used mostly by the most affluent. It’s alarming that lawmakers have taken the debate so close to the wire, considering the havoc a default would wreak on small businesses and the economy as a whole.

With each passing day that politicians fail to make a deal, economic uncertainty grows, shaking the environment for small and large businesses alike. Unfortunately, the clock is still ticking and that last minute is fast approaching.

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New Fuel Efficiency Standards Power Small Business Success

Huffington Post

A poll released Friday indicates the vast majority of small business owners will be pleased with the deal President Obama struck with automakers that raises fuel efficiency standards to 54.5 mpg for cars and light trucks. Obama’s plan, which he announced Friday, mirrors the desires of small business owners, who believe high fuel efficiency standards are essential to sparking job growth and stimulating the economy.

Polling by Small Business Majority found 87 percent of small business owners believe it is important to increase fuel efficiency standards now. Once standards are raised, the money saved on fuel will be injected into the economy as cash becomes available to business owners who want to hire new employees but are unable to because of suffocating energy costs.

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Default Crisis Threatens Small Business

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Headlines have dubbed it “unthinkable” and businesses small and large have been urging lawmakers for months to come to an agreement soon to ensure the country doesn’t default on its debt. But next week’s August 2 deadline to raise the federal debt ceiling is looming and a recent deal that could have resolved the issue fell through because some lawmakers couldn’t abide elimination of tax exemptions for millionaires. It’s alarming that lawmakers have taken the debate so close to the wire, considering the havoc a default would wreak on small businesses and the economy as a whole.

With each passing day that politicians fail to make a deal, economic uncertainty grows, creating a more and more unstable environment for small businesses. Unfortunately, the clock is still ticking and that last minute is fast approaching.

There are myriad reasons why we must not default on the debt: skyrocketing interest rates, an across-the-board credit freeze—essentially total financial collapse. While much of the debate has focused on big businesses, Wall Street in particular, small businesses will suffer just as much, if not more, from a default. Small businesses don’t have the means to weather an economic crisis that big businesses enjoy, as the recession has made abundantly clear.

While there were signs of progress last week—the airwaves were abuzz with news of possible deals that would raise the ceiling by the August deadline and reduce the deficit over the long haul—talks fell through over the weekend. This is incredibly discouraging, considering lawmakers have a mere nine days to reach an agreement.

Each deal being considered proposes reducing the deficit through significant cuts and revenue-raising measures. Now that there is more than raising the debt ceiling on the table, lawmakers must realize the magnitude of their decisions as they reach for a deal. The choices they make now may have a large impact on our fragile economy’s fledging recovery. Key decisions need to be pragmatic and carefully considered. If a deal is struck that doesn’t protect small business interests, the consequences could be almost as bad as blowing the deadline and defaulting on our debt.

Compromises that are being considered, such as a plan offered by a bipartisan group of senators known as the “Gang of Six,” provide constructive solutions to the problem without harming small businesses. The plan includes small business-friendly measures such as closing corporate tax loopholes and lowering business tax rates, which will help reduce the deficit without placing an undue burden on small businesses. By closing tax loopholes—thus requiring large corporations to pitch in their fair share of taxes—revenue will be raised without small businesses having to pick up the slack, and lowering corporate tax rates will allow small firms to keep more of their profits in their pockets, helping them to expand, grow and thrive.

Other measures being considered, such as curbing waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and reforming the physician payment system, known as the “doc fix,” will also help stabilize the deficit without harming small businesses or depressing consumer spending—a key concern for entrepreneurs. Small business revenues were greatly reduced during the recession and have barely recovered. It’s crucial any budget cuts included in a final compromise not affect small businesses’ sales. Doing so would stifle job growth and halt our economic recovery.

The fact that proposals were on the table but fell through because of the uber-politicized environment in Washington is beyond frustrating. Some lawmakers who are more concerned about doing away with tax breaks for millionaires, which have nothing to do with small businesses, are putting breaks for special interests over the success of our nation’s job creators. This must change. In the waning days before the August 2 deadline, lawmakers must put the nation’s economic solvency over partisan politics and remember small business needs as they wheel and deal. Many entrepreneurs simply won’t survive if they don’t.

The Economics of Clean Air

Huffington Post

Clean air, gas-sipping automobiles, green energy technology and the rules that promote them are good for public health and the economy. That was the message a diverse group of advocates delivered to lawmakers this week during a two-day conference in Washington, D.C.

United by a desire to keep politicians from weakening the Clean Air Act, which is under attack by some in Congress, small business owners, consumers, public health advocates and faith communities flew to the Capitol to praise the progress that has been made in our country as a result of the act.

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The Economics of Clean Air

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

Clean air, gas-sipping automobiles, green energy technology and the rules that promote them are good for public health and the economy. That was the message a diverse group of advocates delivered to lawmakers this week during a two-day conference in Washington, D.C.

United by a desire to keep politicians from weakening the Clean Air Act, which is under attack by some in Congress, small business owners, consumers, public health advocates, faith communities, women and people of color flew to the Capitol to praise the progress that has been made in our country as a result of the act.

On Monday, participants started the conference—put on by Small Business Majority and nine other organizations including Consumers Union and the American Lung Association—with a Clean Air Act history lesson, delivered by experts in various fields. Then Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy educated them about what the EPA is currently doing to reduce pollution. Armed with that knowledge and their personal reasons for supporting the Clean Air Act, they visited their representatives on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, making sure lawmakers heard loud and clear that their constituents support the landmark law.

It’s easy to understand why those interested in public health would urge their Congress members to maintain the strength of a law that has cleared our skies of noxious pollutants, but why were small business owners eager to have their voice heard on this issue? It’s a good question many people may be wondering. These entrepreneurs know that, while some groups claiming to represent small business would have you believe otherwise, the passage four decades ago of the Clean Air Act has led to years of economic growth and prosperity.

Let’s look at the facts.

* A report by Small Business Majority found that the economic benefits of the Clean Air Act have far outweighed the costs. In the last two decades, emissions of the most common air pollutants have declined by 41 percent, while the Gross National Product (GDP) has increased by 64 percent.

* Existing clean air standards have boosted the economy by as much as $148 billion and pending standards could boost the economy by as much as $457 billion.

* The Clean Air Act drives technological innovation. Inventions like the catalytic converter have helped make the United States a world leader in exporting environmental-control technologies. These exports grew by 130 percent between 1993 and 2003, and were valued at $30 billion in 2004.

* The Clean Air Act was responsible for creating 1.3 million jobs between 1977 and 1991 alone.

* Air quality is significantly better across the country because of the Clean Air Act. The number of bad air days is down and the severity of unhealthy days has been significantly reduced. That means fewer people get sick and productivity increases.

* The Clean Air Act has ushered in more than 40 years of technological innovation, job creation and expanded U.S. exports—things that benefit small business owners and lay the foundation for long-term economic growth.

But the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for enforcing the Clean Air Act, is being threatened by members of Congress who would limit its ability to do its job. The EPA is preparing to update clean air standards and reduce the amount of the toxic pollution in the air. But some lawmakers are working overtime to delay these new standards and to kill old ones by any means possible. That’s why small business owners were in D.C. this week with other clean air advocates. They know the Clean Air Act provides them with opportunities to make and save money. They know efforts to gut the act will lead to a drop in environmental innovation and create a stumbling block to the country’s fledgling green economy, which holds so much promise for new business. They know attempts in Congress to block the EPA’s ability to enforce the Clean Air Act jeopardize years of economic success.

Let’s hope the politicians in D.C. listen to this varied group of more than 60 concerned citizens and back off their plans to weaken the act. Instead, they should pursue a path to prosperity by implementing forward thinking standards that will protect our health and promote our businesses now and in the future.