Congress doesn't get small business: NSBA survey

Government gets an overwhelming vote of no confidence from small business, according to a survey of 670 small business owners conducted online last October and released today by the National Small Business Association. NSBA members—who tend to represent older, more well-established small businesses—as well as non-members were polled.

The NSBA acknowledged that the survey sample was not representative of the at-large small business community: Respondents were largely Republican. And although 90 percent of those surveyed had companies with under 100 employees and more than 40 percent reported gross revenues of under $1 million, a disproportionately large number (42 percent) were from professional services and manufacturing businesses, from S-corps (40 percent), or at companies that generate more than $5 million in annual gross revenues (24 percent)—all much higher rates than a typical cross section of small business owners.

Nevertheless, the data reflect anecdotal evidence of broader small business community sentiments. NSBA reports that more than 80 percent of each Republicans and Democrats agreed that the ability of lawmakers to deal with problems in the U.S. political system is deteriorating, and that Congress does not understand small business issues. More than half of Democrats and almost all Republican respondents answered “No” to the question, “Do you think the Administration understands small business issues?” Among respondents, 58 percent said they felt they are not well represented by nationally elected officials and 62 percent believe the U.S. political system does not serve their business well.

While Democrat and Republican respondents were divided along party lines on specific issues, 20 percent or more from both parties agreed that neither political party is supportive of small business on controlling healthcare costs, deficit reduction and entitlement reform, exporting/free trade, immigration reform, improving access to capital, regulatory reform, SBA lending programs, small business contracting, or tort reform/medical malpractice reform. Not surprisingly, 70 percent of respondents said they support campaign reform by restricting campaign contributions.

“There are too many hurdles already facing America’s small businesses, political gridlock and partisan bickering shouldn’t be one of them,” NSBA President Todd McCracken stated.

NSBA suggests that, despite party affiliation, survey responses reveal that small business owners are actually largely independent; 80 percent say they do not vote a straight party ticket. Survey results also indicated a high rate of “cross-over” voters. Sixty percent of Republicans reported occasionally voting Democratic, 68 percent of Democrats reported occasionally voting Republican, and large majorities of both parties reported occasionally voting Independent.

According to NSBA, the survey data also show much higher rates among respondents than the general population of political activism, including voter turnout, financial contributions, and interaction with elected officials. “The 70 million people who work for or run a small business deserve leadership, bipartisanship and a true commitment to the economic and fiscal issues that matter most,” stated NSBA Chair Chris Holman. For complete results of the NSBA survey see The Politics of Small Business.

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