Moving from Rhetoric to Policy: State of the Union Recap [Commentary]

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Moving from Rhetoric to Policy: State of the Union Recap [Commentary]

Jan 29, 2010

Posted by Kristie Arslan -  The pundits were at their best in recent weeks with unending speculation on the possible focus of President Obama's first State of the Union speech.  With the speech behind us, now begins the incessant analysis of his remarks.  While pundits dissect the President's words, our nation's smallest businesses are more concerned about his actions.

State of the Union speeches are usually remembered more for their soaring rhetoric than their policy implications, but the President’s speech included policy announcements that warrant further investigation on their potential impacts for the self-employed.

I was pleased to hear the President reference that in the effort to create jobs, the government needs to assist those small businesses where “an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it's time she became her own boss.”  This indicates a recognition that small business are an engine of job creation and an important part of the solution for turning around this economy. 

Unfortunately, he didn’t mention the self-employed specifically – which seems to be a considerable oversight considering that nearly 78% of small businesses in the U.S. are self-employed and that we grew faster than any other segment of the economy between 1997 and 2006. We are 22 million business owners contributing to our GDP growth, helping lower the unemployment rate and increasing the government’s tax revenues. 


The President referenced the need to provide financing for these companies, and an initiative to provide $30 billion to help community banks give small businesses more access to credit.  He also mentioned a tax credit for small businesses that hire workers or raise wages, as well as the elimination of capital gains taxes on small business investment. The implications for the self-employed for these announcements aren’t clear yet.


Rest assured, NASE will be investigating these plans as they are crafted into legislation to ensure there are opportunities for the self-employed to participate, so that the feel-good rhetoric of last night matches the real-world policy of the year ahead.

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