Championing Main Street America is a favorite pastime of campaigning politicians, but small business owners know that few elected officials walk the talk. This election season, there's a meter for measuring the small-biz BS.
The National Federation of Independent Business this week announced its “Vote for Main Street” program. The Republican-leaning advocacy group says it is "casting the 2014 elections as a 'referendum' on Washington’s ability to restore trust with the small business community." It has defined 5 small business legislative priorities "that have previously been proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives, but were never passed or considered in the U.S. Senate or signed into law by the President."
NFIB is asking candidates to commit to voting for them if they want to be supported by NFIB and its 350,000 members as a "Small Business Certified" candidate. "If candidates cannot support these commonsense reforms, they do not deserve Main Street’s vote in the 2014 elections," declares the NFIB Vote for Main Street website.
According to NFIB, voting the five bills into law "will help small businesses thrive and create more jobs for millions of American workers." They are:
• Curb EPA overreach and keep environmental regulations sensible (H.R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act)
• Repeal Obamacare’s small-business health insurance tax (H.R.763, To repeal the annual fee on health insurance providers enacted by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)
• Require Congress to pass a balanced federal budget each fiscal year (H.J.Res.1, Proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States)
• Call on the federal government to certify that Obamacare is not having a negative economic impact on small businesses (H.R.4728, Certify It Act of 2014)
• Restore the definition of a full-time work week to the traditional 40 hours, replacing the more recent 30-hour full-time definition (H.R.2575, the Save American Workers (SAW) Act)
Of course, not all small business owners will concur with NFIB's priorities. As the BizJournals.com Washington Bureau Chief reported this week:
"NFIB will be putting money and manpower behind candidates who pass this test, and telling voters about candidates who fail it. The organization plans to spend more than $1 million on political ads in its “Vote for Main Street” campaign, and some staff and NFIB members will directly work on campaigns as volunteers. ... A lot of small business owners, however, probably would raise different issues than the ones on NFIB’s test. They should challenge candidates to take specific stands on their issues. You may not agree with NFIB’s politics, but you should agree that it’s time to no longer let politicians slide by on generalities about how much they love small business."
"For small businesses, this election is about one thing: restoring trust with Main Street America," NFIB President and CEO Dan Danner said in a statement. "We’ve all heard the campaign promises, but talk is cheap and empty promises aren’t going to cut it this year."
NFIB says it will unveil state-specific web pages that endorse candidates and offer tools that make it easy for voters to support NFIB-backed candidates. Added Danner, “These legislative solutions are critical to small business owners and the millions who work for them, and candidates who cannot align themselves with these commonsense and bipartisan policies should not expect to receive Main Street America’s vote this November.”
NFIB promises to begin listing a roster of "Small Business Certified" candidates online in the coming weeks.