You might say that small business makes our economy go. The numbers would certainly bear that out. After all, small business represents more than 99 percent of all American employers, employs more than half of the American workforce, provides just a little less than half of this country'' sales, and represents 96 percent of all U.S. exporters.
That's a pretty important group. Yet the Cinton Administration is doing its best to make life harder than ever for the small business owner. Oh, Mr. Clinton will take credit for the smooth seas our economy has sailed for most of the 1990s, but the devil is in the detail. And that's where he is trying his best to make life tougher than it should be for our country's entrepreneurs.
Example 1. The president has directed the Labor Department to allow state governments to use unemployment insurance funds to pay individuals on leave from their companies-under provisions of the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act-to care for newborn or newly adopted children. Such leave, which can amount to twelve weeks, is currently unpaid. Requiring that it be paid does two things: 1) likely require businesses to pay for it through new taxes, and 2) decimate the ranks of small businesses who can't afford to pay employees to take additional time off. Bottom line: most small business operate with slim margins already and adding this requirement just might make some fold.
Example 2. It's been proposed that the minimum wage be increased by a dollar, form $5.15 to $6.15 an hour. That hurts the small business owner the most-because she or he is least able to pay for those increases across the board. It's curious that Congress is even considering the measure in these low unemployment times-when good employees are hard enough to come by-and often find better-paying jobs without any additional government incentive. The free marketplace is working just fine and doesn't need add8itioanla government tinkering.
Example 3. OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration)-one of Mr. Clinton's agencies-wants a new sweeping regulation that would require companies to redesign their workplaces and abide by new rules that govern the pace of an employee's work. Yet OSHA's proposal flies in the face of it s own inability to establish the basic hypotheses that repetitive motion, lifting and other physical tasks cause physical disorders. It has lost court suit after court suit trying to establish that claim, along the way incurring the opposition of such groups as the California Orthopedic Association. What it couldn't make stick in court it now wants to codify in a new rule-a rule that could end up costing American business billions of dollars.
Example 4. Health insurance costs are expected to ump by as much as 15 percent this next year. Small businesses will be harder hit than most. They have higher actuarial risks-they've been slow to enroll in managed-care plans-and they are more susceptible to state mandates than larger companies who can hide behind their ability to self-insure.
Let's face it. We are living in an "entitlement society." Employees have come to believe that they are owed more money, more health care, more retirement benefits-more of everything that is costly to the owner of a business.
Big businesses fight those issues because they get hurt, too. But not nearly as much as the small business, who pacts a relatively small wallop and whose voice is often not herd by those who make our laws in Washington and in Springfield.
Mr. Clinton would have us all believe that he is the champion of small business-and he would quickly point to the health of the economy for proof. But we would point, just as quickly, to the acrimonious proposals he has made as evidence that his Administration is just about as unfriendly as you can get. The economy has thrived-despite his actions. Small business owners have become an increasingly important part to that economy-despite his actions. His administration is as anti-business as any we've had in Washington for quite awhile. IBI