By John Arensmeyer and Todd McCracken
Small business owners make hard decisions every day. They compromise on things they sometimes wish they didn’t have to, but they do it for the good of their business, their employees and their families. They do it because they have to if they want to continue running a successful business. Congress is in the business of running this country, and their job right now is to make some hard decisions, compromise even if they don’t want to, and ensure the country avoids the “fiscal cliff.” Congress should follow the example set by our entrepreneurs and find a way to make the compromises needed to ensure we don’t topple into a financial abyss the likes of which we’re just now climbing out of.
The end of the year is mere hours away, when a vast array of tax provisions — many that would take money directly out of the pockets of small businesses and their core customer base — are set to expire at the same time across-the-board spending cuts start to kick in. This dilemma, dubbed the “fiscal cliff,” could spell disaster for the small business community and the slowly recovering economy. Scores of economists have predicted that failing to avoid the cliff could send the nation right back into recession. However, it’s not just avoiding the cliff that’s worrisome. Not having a deal in place creates uncertainty for small businesses and their customers. That translates into more cautious consumers — something small business owners certainly don’t need. And it hamstrings small businesses trying to make financial plans for the coming year. Small businesses can tackle most anything that comes their way — that’s the entrepreneurial spirit — but they can’t plan for a policy that hasn’t been established.
There are many important issues facing the small business community in 2013 — issues we all feel passionately about working on with Congress, such as tax and immigration reform and other critical issues. Getting a bipartisan agreement on the fiscal cliff puts us on the path to a better future and will allow us to focus on finding smart, pragmatic solutions to these other important issues. If the fiscal cliff situation isn’t resolved immediately, however, it will continue to plague small businesses and the nation and keep Congress from working on other important matters.
Small businesses were a powerful theme during the elections. The politicians who campaigned on the importance of small business cannot now forget about them during this critical period. No one expects this to be an easy job for lawmakers, but it’s a job that must be done. The small business community is watching, waiting, and hoping Congress and the president come together now and frame an agreement that keeps their needs in mind. The future success of many small businesses depends on it.
Todd McCracken is the president and CEO of the National Small Business Association
Small business groups that signed onto this post include the National Association for the Self Employed, National Small Business Association, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, Small Business Majority, U.S. Black Chamber, Inc. and U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce