Chamber Poll: Small Biz Blames D.C.

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Washington, Jan 18, 2011 | comments

“…78 percent of small businesses believe that taxation, regulation and legislation from Washington make it harder for businesses to hire more employees — and 74 percent blame the recent health care reforms passed by the Obama administration for creating an impediment to job creation.”

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By Tim Mak, Politico
January 18, 2012

The overwhelming majority of small businesses think the country’s economy is on the wrong track, blame Washington taxes and red tape for their plight, and want Congress to simply get out of the way, according to a new poll Wednesday.

The survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that 85 percent of small businesses think that the economy is on the wrong track, while 63 percent say they will keep the same number of employees over the next year. An additional 11 percent plan to downsize and only 19 percent plan to add jobs over the next year, according to the poll, an advance copy of which was obtained by POLITICO.

As part of the explanation for the general economic pessimism, 78 percent of small businesses believe that taxation, regulation and legislation from Washington make it harder for businesses to hire more employees — and 74 percent blame the recent health care reforms passed by the Obama administration for creating an impediment to job creation.

Most small-business owners want lawmakers in Washington to “get out of the way” (82 percent) as opposed to lending a “helping hand” (10 percent).

“D.C. is not going to solve our economic problems,” R.J. Valentine, the owner of an upholstery manufacturing company in Columbus, Ohio, told POLITICO. “There’s way too much bureaucracy.”

In fact, almost half of small-business owners (49 percent) said regulation is a greater threat to their business than taxation (29 percent) or litigation (6 percent).

“Small businesses see Washington as a threat, not just because of the legislative items that have come out of Washington over the last several years, but increasingly also the regulatory threats,” said Chamber of Commerce National Political Director Rob Engstrom, citing the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Labor Relations Board, financial service regulations and “Obamacare.” “The uncertainty that comes from the regulatory arm, it really makes it hard for small business members to plan.”

“We get it from all different aspects — labor, environmental, transportation regulations,” agreed Robin Conner, owner of R&R Conner, Inc., which specializes in helicopter timber removal. “We’re getting bombarded, and it drives up the costs of our business dramatically.”

Many small-business owners blame both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party for the current economic and political conditions.

The survey showed that small-business owners disapproved of the GOP 55 percent to 40 percent, reserving even more disappointment for the Democratic Party, which they disapproved of 88 percent to 9 percent.

Meanwhile, there remains a disparity between small-business perceptions of the local economy and the national economy.

While expressing widespread pessimism about the national economy, small-business owners are divided about the state of their local economies: 45 percent believe that their local economy is on the right track, up 12 percentage points from October, and neck and neck with the 46 percent who believe their local economy is on the wrong track.

The Chamber of Commerce poll was conducted between Dec. 30, 2011 and Jan. 6, 2012 by Harris Interactive. 1,332 small business owners, 515 of which are members of the Chamber and 807 of which were not, were surveyed and weighed to be representative of the small-business population. The sampling error of the survey is plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

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