An Open Letter To The President And Congress


An Open Letter To The President And Congress

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By Kristie L. Arslan

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued its grim prediction that unemployment will remain above 8 percent until 2014. The CBO isn’t limiting its bad news to unemployment—it also predicts our budget deficit will be bleak at $1.3 trillion for fiscal 2011.

As Congress debates President Obama’s job proposal and the Congressional Super Committee works on its own proposals to address our nation’s fiscal woes, America’s smallest businesses would like to offer some advice. They also ask that our political leaders keep the nation’s 22 million self-employed and micro-businesses in mind as the work begins.

Businesses with 10 or fewer employees directly contribute $1 trillion to the economy every year.

Those who pursue self-employment are doing their part to stimulate the economy and reduce the debt. Frankly, if those unemployed Americans were given some incentive to join the ranks of the self-employed, the debt would be decreasing a lot faster.

What can be done for the small-business community? The president and Congress can start by making the tough decisions. 

The tax code is a good place to start. 

Self-employed business owners need to be CEO, COO and head of sales as well as their own accountants. They don’t have the luxury of big business accounting departments that can manage the complicated and ever-changing tax system.

Undertake meaningful reform of the tax code by moving towards a simpler and more equitable system, giving all businesses, regardless of size, the same tax benefits so there is a level playing field. 

Furthermore, reform should also enable America’s businesses—big and small—to compete in the global economy. 

Protect programs that incentivize entrepreneurship to boost our economy. Remember, today’s small business could be tomorrow’s major employer. And even if they choose to stay small, increased entrepreneurship will help foster innovation, create jobs and bring in additional revenue to our federal coffers. Help the small-business community fuel the economy with long-term policies, not just short-term fixes.

America’s smallest businesses know that no single fix will turn the economy around. But they do ask that the president and Congress keep two simple questions in mind when considering solutions: will the change help small-business owners keep their doors open and grow? Will it encourage others to go after their American dream?

If our political leaders believe their own mantra that small businesses are the engine of the economy, then the answer to these questions had better be yes. 

(This article has been excerpted and adapted from a recent NASE op-ed 
in Roll Call.)

Kristie L. Arslan is president and CEO of the NASE and provides critical insight to policymakers on issues affecting our nation’s self-employed. You can contact her at

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