By Dan Danner
With the nation’s economy wobbling, Washington wavering and Ol’ Man Winter bracing to bring us some interesting weather, it may seem there’s little to celebrate these days. But right under American’s noses are more than 27 million reasons to raise a toast.
Although struggling to survive financially just like most individuals, the small businesses of this nation have earned the well-deserved title “Backbone of America.” At last count, these Main Street enterprises still provide jobs for about half of the private-sector workforce and contribute a similar share of the nation’s GDP.
That’s certainly worth celebrating. What’s more, the risk-taking innovators who own and operate these small firms stand fast as a solid foundation of citizens who pay more than their fair share of taxes, are deeply involved in supporting their communities, and don’t ship their jobs overseas.
That’s why Americans trust small business’ ideas and opinions on how best to create jobs much more than the views of those who occupy the White House or inhabit Capitol Hill. According to a recent Gallup poll, despite highly debated federal efforts to add jobs to the economy, Americans have greater faith in the advice of those who operate more locally.
This high level of trust is nothing new, the pollster notes. In fact, people have greater confidence in the small-business sector than in any institution except the military. What’s more, Americans make a clear distinction in the confidence they hold between those who start their own small firms versus mega-corporations.
Given this strong level of faith in small business’ ability to provide places of employment, you’d think that those in the highest levels of government would at least try to help them create jobs. Just the opposite is happening.
Any small-business owner you ask about hiring more people or buying equipment or borrowing to broaden their operations will likely respond: “Nope, not as long as we’re unsure whether taxes are going up or more regulations are headed our way.”
Then ask if they plan to vote in November and you’ll get a resounding “Yes!” That’s because they’re tired of feeling threatened by regulators who’d rather penalize them than help solve their problems. And they’re fearful they won’t be able to afford President Obama’s new health law that will surely hike premium costs for them, their families and their employees.
Small-business owners could be in for a celebration of their own, however, if the Supreme Court agrees with the National Federation of Independent Business’ lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health law. The only national organization gutsy enough to officially contest Obamacare will present its case to the high court this spring.
Nothing to celebrate? Hardly. Just try to imagine how worse off our nation would be without the millions of entrepreneurs who want only the freedom to stick their necks out and build something that expresses their visions and values.
Dan Danner is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 350,000 small-business owners in Washington, D.C. and every state capital.