Entrepreneurs on the ‘Fiscal Cliff:’ Get It Done

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

This piece was co-authored by Todd McCracken, president and CEO of the National Small Business Association, and was originally featured in The Huffington Post:

Small business owners make hard decisions every day. They compromise on things they sometimes wish they didn’t have to, but they do it for the good of their business, their employees and their families. They do it because they have to if they want to continue running a successful business. Congress is in the business of running this country, and their job right now is to make some hard decisions, compromise even if they don’t want to, and ensure the country avoids the “fiscal cliff.” Congress should follow the example set by our entrepreneurs and find a way to make the compromises needed to ensure we don’t topple into a financial abyss the likes of which we’re just now climbing out of.

The end of the year is mere hours away, when a vast array of tax provisions — many that would take money directly out of the pockets of small businesses and their core customer base — are set to expire at the same time across-the-board spending cuts start to kick in. This dilemma, dubbed the “fiscal cliff,” could spell disaster for the small business community and the slowly recovering economy. Scores of economists have predicted that failing to avoid the cliff could send the nation right back into recession. However, it’s not just avoiding the cliff that’s worrisome. Not having a deal in place creates uncertainty for small businesses and their customers. That translates into more cautious consumers — something small business owners certainly don’t need. And it hamstrings small businesses trying to make financial plans for the coming year. Small businesses can tackle most anything that comes their way — that’s the entrepreneurial spirit — but they can’t plan for a policy that hasn’t been established.

There are many important issues facing the small business community in 2013 — issues we all feel passionately about working on with Congress, such as tax and immigration reform and other critical issues. Getting a bipartisan agreement on the fiscal cliff puts us on the path to a better future and will allow us to focus on finding smart, pragmatic solutions to these other important issues. If the fiscal cliff situation isn’t resolved immediately, however, it will continue to plague small businesses and the nation and keep Congress from working on other important matters.

Small businesses were a powerful theme during the elections. The politicians who campaigned on the importance of small business cannot now forget about them during this critical period. No one expects this to be an easy job for lawmakers, but it’s a job that must be done. The small business community is watching, waiting, and hoping Congress and the president come together now and frame an agreement that keeps their needs in mind. The future success of many small businesses depends on it.

Entrepreneurs to Congress: Extend Middle Class Tax Cuts Now

John Arensmeyer

John Arensmeyer

This piece was co-authored by Kristie Arslan, president of the National Association for the Self-Employed, and was originally featured in The Huffington Post:

The New Year is just around the corner, which means we’re mere days away from falling off the so-called fiscal cliff. This impending situation — created by a vast array of tax provisions set to expire January 1, at the same time that across-the-board spending cuts start to kick in — could spell disaster for the small business community and our slowly recovering economy.

Unemployment is at its lowest rate in four years, thanks in large part to those small businesses that, in spite of challenges, have thrived in 2012. But if lawmakers and the president can’t find a way to avoid plunging over the fiscal cliff, that progress could be reversed — and small business owners and consumers would be hit hard.

Small businesses are very aware of the dire situation our economy is in and are concerned. Polling by Small Business Majority found nearly 8 in 10 small business owners are aware of the fiscal cliff, and they’re worried about practically every aspect of the fiscal cliff they were asked about. They realize how disastrous many of the cuts scheduled to take place could be for our fragile economy and their customer base, the middle class.

A key provision the debate is focused around is tax cuts for middle class families — those earning less than $250,000 a year. Included in this segment of the economy are 97 percent of small businesses and 98 percent of Americans. Small Business Majority’s polling found 86 percent of small business owners support extending these cuts for middle class families.

In entrepreneurs’ eyes, these cuts are crucial because of the role middle class Americans play in the overall success of our economy and small businesses. These cuts, along with a number of other tax provisions scheduled to lapse at the same time, put money back into the pockets of middle class consumers. This drives demand for small businesses’ goods and services more than anything else. Customers with less disposable income translates into less demand for small businesses’ goods and services, meaning their bottom lines suffer, and with them, their ability to hire.

We can all agree the economy doesn’t need that. And what we especially don’t need is to tumble back into a recession. Yet according to scores of economists, that’s exactly what could happen if the fiscal cliff isn’t resolved.

For the good of our economy, lawmakers would do well to focus on a compromise that works for the majority of small business owners and American consumers. Small business owners and their customers need fiscal certainty right now. Without it, small businesses will lack the confidence they need to invest in hiring, and consumers will be less likely to spend extra cash at the mom and pop shop down the street.

The following small business groups signed onto this post: National Association for Moms in Business, National Association for the Self-Employed, Small Business Majority and the US Black Chamber, Inc.