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Florida Voices: Watching the Debates Through the Lens of Small Business

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

In any election cycle, the influence of political commentators, cable news hosts and the candidates’ campaigns can cloud the realities of many of the issues most important to the American people. The presidential debates provide a balance to all of the uproar, giving the candidates an opportunity to directly and candidly address hardworking men and women across the country.

This year the debates carry a heightened importance.  As the economy experiences growth that has been tepid at best, and as unemployment remains above 8 percent for the 43rd consecutive month, the economy is the central issue of this election. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found nine out of 10 voters think job creation should be the top priority of the next president. October 3, the first in the series of debates, will provide both candidates a forum to speak directly with individuals struggling across the U.S.

The small business community will be among those watching most closely, and it could very well be a deciding factor in the outcome of the vote in November.

Today, small businesses face unparalleled challenges, many of which have been put in the way of their success by Washington.  Federal agencies and over-zealous regulators, who seem more inclined to hamper business owners than to work with them, have largely sidelined our country’s most prolific job creators. Another Gallup poll earlier this year found 85 percent of small businesses weren’t hiring, with about half blaming excessive regulation.

The outlook is set to grow even dimmer if nothing is done. Currently there are more than 4,100 new regulations pending in Washington. If implemented, these rules would cost more than $500 billion. They would affect industries in every sector of the economy and ultimately, would largely be passed on to consumers.  We need to put a stop to the flood of harmful regulation.

The Administration has repeatedly expressed its support for the small business community to the media and public, but continues to write more burdensome rules and requirements that will slow down — if not halt — production.  Over the past five years, the number of major regulations has increased by more than 60 percent.

Instead of pursuing an agenda of “more” – more rules, more government intervention and more taxes – federal agencies should work alongside business owners to create policies that protect not only our environment and our communities, but our jobs as well.  One of the fastest ways to create jobs is by making commonsense regulatory reforms that better enforce rules already on the books and provide certainty about future economic policies.

Returning balance to the regulatory systems isn’t a partisan issue, but one that must be addressed to enable economic growth. In the weeks ahead, both candidates will have the opportunity to cut through the clamor and speak directly to American voters.  For the sake of our economy, we need them to provide concrete answers.

Bill Herrle is executive director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses/Florida.

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