The level of inaction in Washington is stunning.
The relief among pundits, news hounds and politicians was palpable when insiders announced last week that Congress is expected to pass a temporary funding bill to keep the government open past the end of the month.
Don’t get me wrong. We all are happy to avoid another government shutdown. But, when did the bar dip this low? How is it possible that agreeing to keep the government running for a few more weeks is treated as a victory of governance when our economy is limping along?
After enduring a paralytic Congress more concerned about re-election than governing the nation for years, small businesses have had enough.
Enough to the lip service they get about being the “backbone of the American economy” when it isn’t followed up with meaningful action to help the economy improve.
Enough to the lip service that in reality hijacks small businesses’ good name to support policies that only help big companies.
Enough to the lip service that does nothing but check a political box on a campaign trail.
Small business owners — people who work hard, hire workers and make the difficult decisions needed to stay in business everyday — are tired of being pandered to. They are tired of empty words. They want action.
So this week Small Business Majority is releasing its Economic Agenda for America’s Future — a set of policy recommendations that will ensure an environment where entrepreneurs, and our economy, can thrive. In addition to long-term recommendations, the Agenda also includes things Washington, not just Congress, can do right now, over the next few months, that will go a long way toward bolstering small businesses.
And because small businesses are not simply the backbone of the economy, but are its very foundation, Washington moving on just one or two of these policies will help small businesses succeed and our economy more fully recover.
The recommendations range from action on taxes, infrastructure and healthcare to immigration and exports that are all tied to creating opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Why? Because small businesses make up 99 percent of the businesses in this country. They employ half of America’s private sector workforce. And, they create jobs.
Small businesses have been doing their part — outperforming big business on the job creation front every month for the past year. But, they can do more if Washington will only step up and take a role in helping fuel this engine for growth.
For example, over the next couple of months, Washington can create greater opportunity for entrepreneurs on several fronts, including:
- The president can take executive action to allow more legal immigrants into the United States to ensure small businesses have access to skilled workers, at both the high- and low-skill level.
- The Securities and Exchange Commission can release final rules for crowdfunding (after having spent more than two years deliberating on them) to provide small businesses more opportunities to get capital and investment in the growth of their businesses.
- Health and Human Services can make sure the online small business insurance marketplaces work on Nov. 15 (after being delayed for a year) so small business owners and their employees have greater access to affordable coverage.
- Congress can pass a long-term reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, not just an extension of a few months, to ensure small businesses (for whom nearly 90 percent of its transactions were for in 2013) have the ability to compete for customers in the global market.
And, the list of things Washington can do to help small business over the next two years is even greater.
An August NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found 71 percent of respondents blame Washington’s inaction for what they view as a lingering sluggish economy. That’s shameful.
Our political leaders need to stop just paying lip service to America. They need to stop trying to convince Americans that the real work has to wait until after the next election, and then the next election.
We can rebuild our economy to the height it was before the Great Recession. And, it begins with helping small business thrive.