Anchor: Welcome to you. You are the top Republican in Congress fighting for Small Business, you are giving small business a voice with this Small Biz Reg Watch interactive website that you put up, we know from the latest report that small business owners have more worries then they had last year, what are their chief complaints?
Graves: Well the biggest thing is – and it’s very consistent with what you are hearing with the surveys – but they are concerned about the economy overall and taxes. They have seen a tax hike now, coming out of this administration; they are also concerned about the regulatory environment and how health care is going to affect them, and the debt ceiling – which continues to go up – and the overall debt. And they’re being looked at to pay for it. So they are very concerned about all of those things.
Anchor: In this current budget battle, do you think Washington has the best interests of small business at heart?
Graves: Well I hope so, but the unfortunate part is we’re seeing it in the Administration, it continues to attack small business, and they’re looking at small business to pay for all of these exorbitant spending sprees that are taking place. Washington has a spending problem, it’s not a revenue problem, it’s a spending problem – and that’s what small businesses are concerned about, and we hear about it every single week.
Anchor: And you point out that many small businesses don’t have lawyers or lobbyists who focus on this new environment, whether its regulation, or healthcare, the list goes on and on. And that’s a serious problem, a serious disadvantage for them, correct?
Graves: Exactly, and you know they just don’t have the resources that a lot of large businesses do when it comes to trying to express their concerns, and that’s one of the reasons why we are trying to provide that voice for small businesses when it comes to the Federal government, and be the avenue for small business here in Washington.
Anchor: So you look at our ballooning national debt and the battle currently over the deficit, what’s the best outcome that would behoove small business?
Graves: Well the best outcome would be for the Federal government to reduce spending, that’s just all there is to it. What is happening everywhere…
Anchor: But where exactly?
Anchor: I have to interrupt you because we are not getting enough detail as to where those tough cuts should come.
Graves: Well, see I think the tough cuts should come from everything, but definitely, we have to have some entitlement reform. That’s going to have to take place. You are seeing an explosion in expenditures in all areas of government, and it’s going to have to be trimmed back. That’s just all there is to it, and one of the things that we’re going to be doing, and at least all the committees are going to be doing is finding those areas in our respective jurisdictions, which we’ll be doing that on the Small Business Committee as well.
Anchor: But how do you feel about the meat cleaver, if you will, cuts, regarding the sequestration and defense in particular?
Graves: Well, it’s going to happen unless the President wants to come to talk to us about meaningful cuts. The House has passed two bills now to try to avert some of the worst outcomes when it comes to sequestration. This President basically just says “no,” and doesn’t want to talk to us. He needs to come talk to us, so we get some meaningful spending reforms out there. Otherwise, it is going to happen, and it is going to be very tough on a lot of different areas.
Anchor: Let’s circle back to small businesses, because one silver-lining in this National Small Business Association Year-End Economic Report, that inspired our interview today Congressman, is that lending appears to be thawing, with 73% of small business reporting the ability to garner adequate financing, is that enough to rehabilitate to your satisfaction, this industry?
Graves: Well, that’s if small businesses are expanding. What we are seeing is a lot of small businesses aren’t expanding because of their concerns about the economy. It’s very good news when it comes to access to capital if a small business is moving forward, but the majority of those businesses, they’re just going to wait and see, and that’s what they’re telling us, “we’re just going to wait and see what happens, because we don’t want to put our necks out on the line and get burned by this economy.”
Anchor: Congressman Sam Graves, a pleasure speaking with you this afternoon, thanks for your time.
Graves: Thank you very much, absolutely.