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I worked hard to make my own small company into a big one but I never could have succeeded if I had faced the avalanche of impediments that our current government hurls down upon this generation of entrepreneurs. The White House’s job creation strategy seems designed to merely raise taxes while it appoints another blue-ribbon council to talk about the lack of jobs. Does anyone really believe this will create the employment growth this country needs? I certainly don’t. What I do believe is that we must bring together the hard-working men and women who are on the front lines of job creation – small and medium-sized business founders and owners -- to light the way to renewed economic growth.
By giving real job creators -- whether shopkeepers or software engineers -- a voice, they can speak from real-world experience about how to create jobs and why job creation can’t be accomplished from Washington. I believe these business men and women could point out the policies that are obstacles and articulate policies that invite growth and investment, and most importantly—job creation. Who better to defend free enterprise than entrepreneurs who have actually created America’s private-sector jobs?
These companies – high-tech and low, restaurants and retail stores, manufacturers and bakeries – are the businesses that drive job creation. Half of all American workers are employed at a small business and they have generated two out of three new jobs over the last 15 years. We can’t have a serious conversation about reducing unemployment without listening to the companies that aren’t on the Fortune 500 list.
Overregulation, unfair taxes, and new mandates, like the controversial healthcare bill, are choking these job-creating businesses before they can get off the ground. The President’s State of the Union Address included calls to increase trade and cut corporate taxes, all things that help big businesses alright, but do little to help the small enterprises and start-ups that are the engines of economic growth. They need relief from the alphabet soup of regulations that stifles them and therefore chokes hiring.
From the EPA to the FDA, from the IRS to Sarbanes Oxley, regulations disproportionally affect the smallest firms, drowning America's entrepreneurs in red tape. According to a study published last year by the Small Business Administration, firms with fewer than 20 employees spend 36 percent more per employee than large firms. Regulations, on average, cost small firms $10,585 per employee each year: $4,120 to comply with economic regulations, $4,101 to comply with environmental regulations, $1,585 to comply with complex tax rules, and $781 to comply with OSHA and homeland security regulations. In fact, more than 144,000 pages of regulations strangle small and large businesses alike. Congress must provide these innovators a break.
I know dozens of men and women who started with nothing, waiting in the hallway hoping the mailman would bring enough receipts to make payroll, working through the night, foregoing their own salaries so they could pay their bills, and yet fretting over filing a raft of forms for local, state and government regulators and worrying about bewildering new rules. These are the true job creators and many feel downright abused by a government that ignores them, penalizes them and goes out of its way to impede their businesses.
These job creators want to grow their businesses, they want to hire new employees and they understand that they need to pay fair taxes. But they don’t have a forum, they don’t have a voice, and they are frustrated when academics and life-long government employees – bureaucrats who know nothing about creating jobs -- determine policies that could either spur or stifle job growth. The heroes of the American economic dream are the people who take the risks, make the sacrifices, and still maintain the beliefs that propel them to success. These job creators must tell us what policies they need to grow their business and put America back to work. I am now calling on all business founders, owners and leaders to join me in the ranks of the American Institute for Growth, a new organization I am proud to help create. Join me in this quest to allow free enterprise to not only heal our wounded economy, but to return us to the economic growth that we need to create jobs across America.