Busi­ness will step up when Obama backs off

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary -

Pres­i­dent Obama at a town-hall meet­ing two weeks ago told busi­nesses they needed to “step up” and hire work­ers. Yet how can small busi­nesses hire when the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s man­dates, tax hikes and reg­u­la­tions con­tinue to stran­gle growth and kill jobs?

As we rec­og­nized last week as the 48th an­nual Na­tional Small Busi­ness Week, it is only fit­ting that we ex­am­ine where our nation’s best job cre­ators stand, the hur­dles they face and how we can bet­ter fos­ter an en­vi­ron­ment that will al­low them to thrive. Here’s a glimpse of what small busi­nesses are up against:

Oba­macare: This un­con­sti­tu­tional mon­stros­ity will im­pose a half-tril­lion dol­lars in new taxes, threaten a 60 per­cent in­crease in pre­mi­ums and force about 80 per­cent of small busi­nesses to give up their cur­rent cov­er­age. One pro­vi­sion will im­pose a $2,000 tax per em­ployee on busi­nesses with more than 50 em­ploy­ees that fail to of­fer health in­surance. Re­ports have shown that these types of em­ployer man­dates alone could lead to the elim­i­na­tion of 1.6 mil­lion jobs, with 66 per­cent of those com­ing from small busi­nesses. The un­cer­tainty and com­plex­ity of Oba­macare are dis­in­cen­tives to em­ploy­ers who would other­wise use their re­sources to cre­ate jobs and spur eco­nomic growth.

Higher en­ergy costs: As gas prices near $5 a gal­lon in some ar­eas of the coun­try, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to block pro­duc­tion of Amer­i­can­made en­ergy. These ris­ing prices are leav­ing many small firms strug­gling to make ends meet. A re­cent In­ter­net-based prod­uct whole­saler sur­vey re­ported that 64 per­cent of small busi­nesses have in­curred rev­enue de­creases as a re­sult of ris­ing fuel costs.

Reg­u­la­tory im­ped­i­ments: Gov­ern­ment red tape costs small busi­nesses an es­ti­mated $10,585 per em­ployee — 36 per­cent higher than the cost of reg­u­la­tory com­pli­ance for large busi­nesses. The to­tal cost of fed­eral reg­u­la­tions has in- creased to $1.75 tril­lion — $445 bil­lion more than five years ago, partly be­cause of new, costly laws such as Oba­macare and the Dodd-Frank fi­nan­cial ser­vices leg­is­la­tion.

Tax com­plex­ity: The United States tax code is a com­plex doc­u­ment es­ti­mated to cost tax­pay­ers and small busi­nesses $163 bil­lion and 6 bil­lion hours a year to com­ply with its tax-fil­ing re­quire­ments. A re­cent Na- tional Fed­er­a­tion of In­de­pen­dent Busi­ness (NFIB) study found that four of the top 10 small-busi­ness prob­lems were tax-re­lated.

Tax hikes: Congress is de­bat­ing a pro­posed in­crease to the debt limit and a bud­get plan for the next fis­cal year. My col­leagues and I have made clear that any in­crease in the debt limit must be cou­pled with spend­ing cuts and any plan with a tax hike is a non-starter. How­ever, the mere threat of rais­ing taxes cre­ates un­cer­tainty among our job cre­ators and will con­tinue to slow job growth.

Stalled free-trade agree­ments: Ninety-seven per­cent of iden­ti­fied U.S. ex­porters are small busi­nesses, yet that rep­re­sents a small frac­tion of those who could com­pete glob­ally if trade bar­ri­ers and high tar­iffs were re­duced. This is why the

As gas prices near $5 a gal­lon in some ar­eas of the coun­try, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues to block pro­duc­tion of Amer­i­can­made en­ergy. These ris­ing prices are leav­ing many small firms strug­gling to make ends meet.

Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion must ex­pe­dite send­ing to Congress the pend­ing free-trade agree­ments with Colom­bia, Panama and South Korea.

The U.S. In­ter­na­tional Trade Com­mis­sion es­ti­mates that the three trade agree­ments com­bined would in­crease ex­ports by $13 bil­lion.

Us­ing the pres­i­dent’s own mea­sure, such an in­crease in U.S. ex­ports could cre­ate 250,000 Amer­i­can jobs.

For small busi­nesses to re­main a vi­tal com­po­nent of our econ­omy, we must dis­man­tle Oba­macare and in­sti­tute an “all of the above” en­ergy plan. We must also en­sure that fed­eral agen­cies no longer ig­nore the Reg­u­la­tory Flex­i­bil­ity Act, a fed­eral law that re­quires fed­eral agen­cies to con­sider the least bur­den­some pol­icy for small busi­nesses.

Since most small-busi­ness own­ers pay their busi­ness taxes on their in­di­vid­ual re­turns, re­vis­ing the tax code for both in­di­vid­ual and cor­po­rate re­turns would al­low busi­nesses to keep more re­sources in­stead of spend­ing them on tax com­pli­ance.

Lastly, we must pass the pend­ing free-trade agree­ments be­fore other coun­tries es­tab­lish their own agree­ments and push Amer­i­can com­pa­nies out of the competition.

Great economies are built from the ground up, not from the gov­ern­ment down.

Let’s start by pry­ing back the over­reach­ing fin­gers of Wash­ing­ton so that small busi­nesses will be able to “step up.”

Rep. Sam Graves, Mis­souri Repub­li­can, is chair­man of the House Com­mit­tee on Small Busi­ness.

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