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Chairman Graves in the St. Joseph News-Press: Uncertainty from Washington is Holding Back Small Businesses

Washington, Apr 15 -

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Uncertainty from Washington is Holding Back Small Businesses
By Chairman Graves


What affects job creation throughout Missouri and the United States? A lack of certainty hampering small businesses and preventing them from doing what they do best: expand their company and hire more Americans.

As the spring begins and President Obama ramps up his rhetoric highlighting his administration’s plan to put Americans back to work, consider this: in a recent United States Chamber of Commerce poll, more than four out of five small business owners believe that government does more harm than good when it comes to growing their business. According to the poll, 86 percent of small business owners preferred greater certainty to more government assistance.

As our nation’s premier job creators, small business owners are a self-sufficient group. Just like anyone making a decision on whether or not to invest in something, they want to know the rules, the cost and the return. In other words, they want to know what regulations they will face, how much it will cost to produce their product, and whether there will be customers to purchase their product. Small business owners cannot invest in their business and hire more employees in good faith if they do not have some measure of confidence in the answers to these simple questions.

Solid predictions become even harder to make when our nation’s out of control federal spending remains unchecked, the implementation of the health care reform law is unclear, and the prospect of greater federal regulations threatens to make doing business harder and more expensive. This uncertainty creates doubt across the economy as a whole, making it more difficult for companies to find willing customers.

A Gallup poll of small business owners last fall listed the three biggest problems facing small business as: government regulation (22 percent), consumer confidence (15 percent) and lack of consumer demand (12 percent). A real commitment to reining in government regulation and a serious plan to tackle the federal budget deficit will go a long way towards giving small businesses the steady ground they need to succeed and grow their business.

As the Chairman of the House Committee on Small Business for just over a year now, I hear this message every week. At a recent hearing, Michael Fredrich, president of MCM Composites in Manitowoc, Wis., focused on the uncertainty caused by our spiraling federal deficit. “Please understand that the current level of federal spending and debt accumulation is not sustainable,” said Mr. Fredrich. “Small business owners know this, and that is why they are most concerned about this issue. A recent survey released by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council and the Financial Services Forum in November found that small business owners believed that changes to federal fiscal policy would be the single most effective strategy to encourage hiring and to get the economy back on track.”

In addition to Mr. Fredrich, many small business owners have highlighted economic uncertainty as a concern when reaching out to the committee through our interactive website, Small Business Open Mic.

“The inability of Congress and the White House to agree on the federal budget is a major source of
uncertainty for my business,” said Edward Pope of Unico Technology in Westlake Village, Calif. “This is no way to run a country and it makes it challenging for those of us in small business to run our companies. I’d like to hire in 2012, but with no budget certainty, I’m having to put those plans on hold.”

This sentiment was echoed by Steve Mitchell of G.R. Mitchell Inc. in Lancaster, Penn. “We are a small business that has business opportunities. But because of the uncertainty of the economy we are fearful of hiring new employees. Allow businesses to expand our economy. Help us put these people back to work.”

Small businesses are the engine of our economy, with 27 million small firms creating about 65 percent of new jobs in the United States. Many of these businesses, here in Missouri and around the country, want to grow and expand, which will result in more jobs. But they are wary to invest in their companies when they do not know what is coming around the corner. The sooner that Washington provides small businesses the certainty that they need to grow, the sooner they can power a stronger economic recovery.

U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, a Republican representative from Tarkio, Mo., is the chairman of the House Committee on Small Business.

Read the Op-ed Online HERE