Entrepreneurs in the United States have a long wishlist of things they would like to see lawmakers do that would help improve their businesses. From tax reform to healthcare changes, there are plenty of ways politicians could make life better for America’s job creators. During this year’s National Small Business Week, however, Congress decided to ignore that list and ended up giving two really lousy gifts to small businesses: the first step toward repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the revocation of a rule that makes it easier for states to establish retirement savings plans that benefit small businesses.
Now that National Small Business Week is here, lots of lawmakers will be telling us about the importance of fighting for the interests of America’s job creators. It is hard to take some of those claims seriously, however, since politicians in Washington, D.C. are close to killing a federal rule that makes it easier for states to establish retirement savings plans that benefit small businesses.
During the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Labor gave more options to small businesses that don’t offer retirement programs by permitting states to create a public/private partnership that allows private-sector employees to contribute to an individual retirement savings account through modest payroll deductions. This is critical for small businesses that often lack the resources to offer these retirement savings options themselves.
When it comes to employee benefits, the difference between working for a small business and a large corporation can be the difference between eating at a buffet and dining a la carte: neither are bad options, but one usually offers more choices than the other. Unfortunately, far too many lawmakers in Washington, D.C. fail to understand that small businesses often do not have the resources to offer a buffet of benefits, which can result in high employee turnover. That’s why efforts to overturn a rule that makes it easier for states to set up retirement savings programs will be particularly harmful to small businesses.
It’s important to recognize that the retirement-savings landscape in this country is bleak; the United States currently suffers from a retirement-savings gap of more than $6 trillion, and more than three million households do not have any retirement savings at all. Unfortunately, employees of small firms are no better off as 80 percent of workers employed by businesses with fewer than 25 employees do not have any sort of pension or retirement plan.
When Jose Rodriguez opened OFBS NOW, a small insurance and brokerage agency in Pasadena, he knew that one day he might want to take out a loan to grow his business. After three years of success, he’s getting ready to take that next step — but he has some trepidation.
“I’ve seen a lot of my small business peers take out bad loans and become trapped in cycles of debt,” said Rodriguez. “Before taking out a loan, I wanted to make sure I had all the right information so I didn’t fall victim to predatory lending.”