As the owner of a small business, and the President of a regional business association comprised almost completely of over a 170+ area small businesses, I'm a bit sensitive when I hear politicians talk about the importance of "small businesses" and the need to do things to help them.
Saying you are for supporting small business is like saying you are for a strong economy. Aside from a handful of big business ideologues, not too many folks are going to disagree with you. It's political catnip.
The main problem I see is that while politicians frequently talk about how we need to help and encourage small businesses, their voting records almost always show a history of voting against the interests of small businesses, embracing policies that, instead, tend to favor big businesses. Big business, after all, have the lobbies and the wealth to apply pressure to elected officials.
If, for example, McDonald's doesn't like a piece of legislation that'll help businesses like Bob's Corner Carryout, well, since in today's America money = speech - who do you think has more access to a politician's ear?
I've found that most Democratic politicians are at least able to listen and show emapthy when you present them with small business issues. Republican politicians, on the other hand, have zero interest in even pretending to listen to the concerns of small business. What Republicans do is address the concerns of big business while pretending it will somehow help small business. It won't. Big business seeks to devour, consume, destroy any competition and it expects the politicians it pays for to help them in this endeavor.
So when I see Republicans talking about wanting to help small businesses, few things seem more obviously ridiculous to me.
And yet, Republicans continue to try and run on being friendly to small business. And places like The Baltimore Business Journal are trying hard to help them.
For example, take a look at the article "Survey: Small businesses scared to expand because of government, uncertainty" by Greg Bianco.
Now, as a small business owner, the headline struck me as odd. From my experience, with the possible exception of one or two of the more ideological Libertarians, almost none of the small business owners I know are complaining that government regulations keeping us down.
Really, that is a big business gripe.
Nearly seven in 10 small businesses and manufacturers say federal policies and regulations are hurting American small businesses and manufacturers, according to a survey conducted by the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Federation of Independent Business.
The survey of 800 small business owners, manufacturers and decisionmakers (see PDF) , also find that 55 percent believe the national economy is in a worse state than three years ago, because of federal regulations, taxes and health insurance.
It's almost enough to make a small business owner question his own judgment. Almost. However, what Bianco is doing here is carrying water for Republicans.
He pretends the sources he cites aren't pro-big business and partisan, but then, it's not entirely his fault. He's just a reporter. One can't expect him to know the sources he reports on also try to pretend they're not partisan when they are, right?
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the country's largest industrial trade association, with a long anti-labor history which established its bonafides fighthing against Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal.
The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) is a lobbying organization which contributes heavily to mostly Republican politicians.
And in fact, there is a survey, a Wells Fargo, Gallup Small Business Index (Jan-Sept. 2012), which reveals the reporting from places like The Balitmore Business Journal to be a sham (even though they too used misleading headlines to try and support the interests of big business).
When asked "Why are you NOT looking for new employees," this is how small businesses answered:
76% Don't need additional employees at this time
71% Revenues/sales won't justify adding employees
66% Current state of the economy
53% Cash flow/ability to make payroll
48% potential cost of healthcare
46% new government regulations
24% worried you may no longer be in business in 12 months
20% some other reason
The main reason, despite reporting from Baltimore Business Journal or headlines from Gallup, that businesses aren't hiring are that they don't need more employees, they can't afford more employees, that the economy makes them feel it's too risky to hire new employees and because they are having cashflow issues.
Small business' main concerns are not healthcare, tax and/or government regulations.
So, as much as Republicans and their water carriers posture that they are simply carrying out policies based on the interests of small business, they are nothing more than concern trolls representing the interests of big business while pretending to give a damn about small business.