One of the favorite Republican talking points regarding the economy is that small businesses aren’t hiring because they’re paralyzed by “uncertainty” when it comes to tax and budget policy. “America’s employers are afraid to invest in an economy stalled by ‘stimulus’ spending and hamstrung by uncertainty,” said House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) last week. “The prospect of higher taxes, stricter rules, and more regulations has employers sitting on their hands.”
According to the latest small business survey from the National Federation of Independent Business (which is a very conservative organization), about half of small businesses cite economic conditions or lack of sales prospects as their reason for not hiring, while just 12 percent say “political conditions.” However, business owners are holding back while Congress endlessly debates a small business lending bill, as USA Today reported:
“I’m still waiting for Congress to sign off on the bill,” says Amarjit Kaur, who runs a convenience store and gas station in Wood Village, Ore. She leases her property but has a chance to buy it. With the waived-fee provision, Kaur says she could save about $35,000 on her pending loan. Kaur’s is among about 1,000 other small businesses that “have their bank papers all done and will be funded in the days — moments — after the bill passes,” says U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills.. [...]
Many other businesses have paused expansion as they wait for the outcome of the bill, says Bob Coleman, publisher of the Coleman Report, which provides information on small-business lending.
“Some businesses can save thousands of dollars on the waived loan-fee provision alone, and they are thinking, ‘I might as well hold off and save the money,’” Coleman said.
And it’s Republicans who have refused to allow the small business bill to go forward, first bogging it down in committee by threatening to attach an unrelated tax cut for multi-millionaires to it, and then filibustering it on the Senate floor. In fact, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) referred to the bill as simply “another expensive and bureaucratic government program.”
The credit crunch affecting small businesses is very real and this bill could help alleviate it, getting those businesses loans to expand and hire. But Republicans have been tying it up in procedural knots for months, while simultaneously complaining that the Obama administration is not doing enough to aid small businesses. That’s a convenient political game to play, but it leaves actual small businesses out to dry.