Linda McMahon, the Republican senate nominee in Connecticut, is selling herself as the consummate business woman, thanks to her years as an executive with World Wrestling Entertainment. But if her appearance last night on CNBC is any indication, McMahon is a little unclear about how much money the typical small business owner is earning. CNBC’s supply-side devotee Larry Kudlow asked McMahon for her position on allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans to expire, and McMahon used the standard Republican argument that permitting the expiration would cause a tax increase on small businesses:
The fallacy Larry, and you know this as well as anyone, it’s not just that top marginal tax rate that’s going to affect the wealthy, it’s going to affect small businesses. I’ve started as a Subchapter S corporation, and so when you increase that top marginal tax rate, if it goes from 35 to 39.6 percent, you know, that’s going to be a big dig for small businesses. And as I talk to small businesses all over the state of Connecticut, they’re telling me, ‘look, I’m not going to grow. I’m not going to go over that level. I’ll lay somebody off, I won’t take that next job, I can’t work any harder, and I’m just not going to work any more for the government.’
The fact remains that fewer than two percent of small businesses and less than three percent of people with any business income whatsoever will see a tax increase if the top two income tax brackets reset to the 2001 level, as President Obama has proposed. As The Wonk Room explained, small businesses are actually hesitant to hire because of weak economic conditions and lack of demand, not the political climate as McMahon claims. McMahon herself, who holds personal assets worth anywhere from $156 million to $400 million, would face higher tax rates if the tax cuts for the rich expire, but the same can’t be said for the vast majority of small business owners.