Conventions should address small-business issues

By: Ken Lebersfeld

Appeared in The Palm Beach Post on July 25, 2016


Will the Republican and Democratic Party nominating conventions happening last week and this address the concerns of small businesses?

Based on the tone of the election season so far, it won’t be a surprise if small-business issues are left on the back burner. Candidates from both parties have repeatedly attacked businesses this primary season.

I know quite a few corporate leaders. The vast majority are smart, sensible people who want to provide their customers with the best products for the best price. They do their best to take care of their employees, treat their suppliers fairly and give back to their communities.

Politicians’ antagonistic view of businesses reflect the views of society as a whole. According to a Pew Research poll, more millennials oppose capitalism than support it. A new Harvard University poll finds that support for capitalism is at a historic low.

The campaign conventions should challenge this thinking by pointing out that businesses have done more good for the world, have lifted more people out of poverty, have created more prosperity, and given more to charity than any other human institution ever created.

But small businesses are currently facing hurdles. According to a recent Job Creators Network national poll of small-business owners, only 1 in 4 respondents says that doing business over the next year will be easier than the previous one. Only 1 in 5 plans to hire additional employees over the next year.

The reasons? Over-regulation and over-taxation. Three out of five small-business owners say over-regulation threatens the viability of their business. Two-thirds say the same about over-taxation.

The Bring Small Businesses Back Tax Reform Act (HR 5374), recently introduced by U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., would lower the tax small businesses pay to 10 percent on their first $150,000 in earnings and 20 percent on their earnings between $150,000 and $1 million.

While the bill is a good start, lasting change requires a widespread philosophical understanding of the role businesses play in society.

KEN LEBERSFELD, PALM BEACH

Editor’s note: Ken Lebersfeld is the CEO of Capitol Lighting and a member of the Job Creators Network.