Op-EdAppeared in The Huffington Post on April 8, 2013By Michael Leven

Small Business Under Attack

Job Creators Can Break the Full-Court Press of Intimidation

By Michael Leven

Mr. Leven is the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and a Job Creators Alliance member.

Basketball’s March Madness is nearly over, but there’s long been a full court press by the enemies of free enterprise against our nation’s best job creators. They attack small business owners and entrepreneurs who speak their minds about the harmful policies coming from Washington. On the court of free enterprise, our side is not allowed to inbound the ball.

Mike Ruffer, a North Carolina Five Guys Burgers and Fries franchisee, is the latest target. Last Monday, he spoke out about the effect of Obamacare on his eight restaurants. He said the fees and fines could push him to raise prices, cut jobs or wages and ice expansion plans.

This was as logical as the inbound pass in hoops and shouldn’t be controversial. Government regulations force small businesses to pass costs onto their customers, slash jobs and reduce hours or quit the game altogether. Other job creators have recently made the same basic point: A Florida Denny’s franchisee, Olive Garden and Red Lobster parent Darden restaurants, and more.

Enter the full court press of intimidation.

When business owner tells the truth about Washington’s job killing policies, an orchestrated effort is deployed on the court to silence and shut down the ball handlers. The entrepreneurs are ridiculed and demagogued on the Jumbotron of big media talk shows, floods of calls into headquarters, organized complaint emails and directed social media pile-ons.

Against an opposing team that only looks to score political points, the small business player just trying to do his job finds himself fearful and then unable speak truth. Several business owners have recently been shamed into a public apology — as if they have nobody to throw the ball to — and then forced silently to sit the bench. With each failure, another job creator finds it harder to put the ball in play, and everyone rooting for a robust economy suffers.

The underdog business owner understandably trades the risks of speaking out for the safety of just being allowed to do business, even if bad policies like Obamacare make doing business much more difficult.

Many of us want that ball put in play as we watch the game silently at home on TV, but that’s just not enough.

We need to be on the floor, trying to get open to catch that inbound pass, and let everyone in America know which team we play on. Basketball fans know it is possible to break a full court press, get down the floor and score. But right now, small business America and corporate coaches are failing to draw up plays to break the blistering press and are thus failing their team.

Job creators are on the court because we know first hand what it takes to start a business with just a few bucks and a dream. We know what it’s like to have to provide for our families and have people depend on us to provide for their families. And we know what it’s like to take great risks and then wait in fear and uncertainty for the government’s next move.

The other team plays hard against us because they prefer big government to free enterprise. They don’t understand that job creators grow the middle class, not the government. And they don’t understand that bigger is not better and that waste is not progress.

When one small businessman or woman tries to put that story in play, we all need to be out on the floor telling our stories to support them. Most fair-minded Americans really do want the Mike Ruffers of the world to win, but will not know who to root for if we let the other side force him to the sideline, unable to get the ball in play and score for free enterprise.

It is every small business owner’s responsibility to teach America what is needed for job creators to grow business, create jobs and help the economy prosper. This is the mission of Job Creators Alliance. Our CEO leaders are committed to breaking this full court press of intimidation. We’re on the floor. Are you?