The Corner

A Dire Day for Small Firms

Somewhere in America there is a frustrated small-business owner. Demand for products is down, employees have had to be let go, costs are up, and there is little hope in sight. To make things worse, the tax man is knocking at the door.

Today is April 15, the day for over 50 years Americans have had to fork over a hefty portion of their success to Uncle Sam. In the past year, nearly a trillion dollars in taxpayers’ money has been spent by President Obama and the Congress to fund a failed economic stimulus.

In a survey just released by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the small-business-optimism index fell 1.2 points last month to its lowest point since July 2009. In a powerful understatement, NFIB chief economist William Dunkelberg said optimism was “headed in the wrong direction.”

Traveling throughout the country with American Solutions, we have met hundreds of small-business owners. Each one of them has the same complaint: They want government to “get out of our way.” Last week in New Orleans we heard from a boat manufacturer who is worried about the impact of cap-and-trade legislation. In St. Petersburg, Fla., there was motorbike dealer concerned about the higher taxes. As the NFIB found, America’s small-business owners are filled with concerns and have little hope.

Even worse, the NFIB survey found that small-business owners are more likely to cut workers than add jobs over the next three months, fueling speculation that any pending “recovery” may be a jobless one.

The president said that America is “beginning to turn the corner” toward recovery, crediting his massive stimulus with “helping us to climb out of this recession.” As of March 2010, more than 15 million Americans are unemployed, or 9.7 percent of the U.S. labor force. When the underemployed and long-term unemployed are counted, the rate is a staggering 17 percent, more than one in every six workers.

The president did acknowledge that “there are some limits to what government can do.” He went on to say that what government can do “is create the conditions for companies to succeed.”

It’s clear that under the stimulus, the government has failed to create those conditions. And with the recent government takeover of health care and a massive new energy tax making its way through Congress (both of which small businesses oppose), our elected leaders are, like the optimism of small-business owners, “headed in the wrong direction.”

Small businesses comprise half of the American workforce. With their increasing loss of confidence, it’s time to enact policies that encourage growth and job creation.

Members of Congress who are serious about creating jobs should take up American Solutions’s job-creation plan: Jobs Here, Jobs Now, Jobs First. The plan is simple, and each part is proven to work: Balance the budget, stop reckless government spending, cut taxes for both workers and employers, and develop American sources of energy to create jobs and achieve energy independence. Visit www.AmericanSolutions.com/Jobsfirst to see the full plan.

Somewhere in America there is a small-business owner who has paid his taxes and wants to create jobs. He just needs the government to get out of his way.

– Newt Gingrich is chairman of American Solutions. Dan Varroney is chief operating officer.

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