Four years after the 2009 recession, the economy has not yet fully rebounded. There was some good news this week on Wall Street, where the stock market reached all-time highs, and today's unemployment news was positive. But, when we look to Main Street and the small business sector, the news is not as encouraging. The Federal Reserve notes that the costly and cumbersome health care law is causing small businesses to lay off workers. And though stocks climbed, small businesses struggle and startups declined.
Policies matter. Under the Obama administration, small businesses are absorbing new burdens of higher taxes, more regulations and the health law requirements. It all adds up to a flat small business economy. Thelatest NFIB report still shows low optimism among small business owners. Of those surveyed, 11 percent added jobs, while 9 percent cut jobs. As I said in last week’s op-ed, the strong economic recovery we need will have small businesses growing and hiring at the forefront. Until then, Washington has work to do to reduce the burdens that are weighing small businesses down.
News from Washington
On Wednesday, the House passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year. The bill prevents a government shutdown, and it also locks in post-sequestration spending levels, while including more flexibility for defense and veterans programs to make smarter cuts. Now, Washington waits for the White House to produce a budget for fiscal year 2014, after missing the February 4th deadline. We need leadership and a rational plan to move us forward, not ad hoc budgeting by crisis. Small businesses must plan and balance their budgets, so should Washington. Credit rating agencies say there is a spending problem in Washington and more cuts are needed. Now that the President has gotten the tax hike he insisted on in the fiscal cliff deal, it is time he gets serious about cutting spending. House Republicans are working for a balanced solution to the nation’s debt that addresses unsustainable spending.