Political Hay

Kerrynomics: An Agenda for Calamity

Small business stands to suffer most, which stands to reason -- John Kerry never has had much use for the little guy.

By 9.22.04

Send to Kindle

Without the small business sector of the economy, America would be flat on its back -- economically, politically, and militarily. And presidential hopeful John Kerry has consistently taken positions over the past decade that are a direct threat to the strength and survival of entrepreneurial activity and small businesses in this country.

That's the ominous conclusion of a new report from the D.C.-based Small Business Survival Committee, "Bigger Government on the Way? Senator John F. Kerry's 10-Year Voting Record on Key Small Business Issues."

Damage America's small business community and here's exactly what is at stake, based on the officials numbers. In its latest survey, the Small Business Administration reports that small businesses make up more than 99.7 percent of all employers in the United States and create 75 percent of the net new jobs in the American economy. In short, we're not talking about the financial interests of just some small business owners -- we're talking about the backbone of the American economy and the bulk of the nation's jobs and paychecks.

With a start-up rate of over 500,000 new companies per year, it's the entrepreneurial and small business sector that's more than making up for the jobs that are being lost through outsourcing and downsizing in the more monopolized and multinational sectors of the American economy. As a case in point, women-owned small businesses now employ more people in the United States than all the Fortune 500 companies combined.

Reviewing a decade-long history of Senate votes from the 103rd Congress in 1993 through the 108th Congress in 2003 on legislation important to small business, the Small Business Survival Committee (SBSC) finds Senator Kerry's record to be "unsettling."

Overall, on an array of matters that impinge directly on the bottom line of the nation's key source of new employment, SBSC reports that Kerry voted on the side of small business "a mere 13 times out of the 101 votes that SBSC rated during the past decade, giving him a weak 13 percent rating on key small business issues."

Year after year, on issue after issue, Kerry's votes on small business issues reveal an approach that time and again threatens to undermine the strength and vitality of the precise sector of the American economy that's now shouldering the greater part of job creation and innovation.

"Senator Kerry voted against small business 94 percent of the time on tax-related legislation rated by SBSC," says research associate Chris W. Myers. "Given 34 opportunities to support business on tax issues, Kerry chose to do so on only two occasions."

On regulatory reform, SBSC reports that Kerry voted against small business 25 out of 30 times. Currently, companies with fewer than 20 employees spend an average of almost $7,000 per worker per year in order to comply with federal regulations, nearly twice the amount of large firms. "It's important that this burden of regulations be reformed and minimized for small businesses," Myers argues. "However, based on his legislative record, that doesn't appear to be a goal of Senator Kerry."

On votes over the past 10 years in the area of legal reform, the SBSC analysis shows Kerry voting in opposition to small business 90 percent of the time. "Frivolous lawsuits hurt investment, job creation and the overall economy," explains Myers. "Unfortunately, Senator Kerry stands in the way of meaningful and common sense reform."

On health coverage issues, "Senator Kerry voted against the interests of small business 100 percent of the time," reports SBSC. "These ranged from votes against the passage of health savings accounts to votes against allowing self-employed small business owners to deduct their health insurance expenses to help make health coverage more affordable."

Taken as a whole, John Kerry's legislative record with respect to small business and the issues that matter most to this sector shows a preference for higher taxes, less affordable health coverage, more burdensome regulations, more frivolous lawsuits, and more government spending -- an agenda that's the perfect prescription for fewer business start-ups, more bankruptcies, less entrepreneurship, less economic growth, more unemployment, slower income growth, smaller take-home pays, more poverty, more regulators, more lawyers and bigger government.

Stated in macro terms, Senator Kerry is calling for a $2 trillion expansion in government spending for new federal programs over the next decade, over and above what's already projected, while at the same time he supports an agenda that places roadblocks in the path of small business growth and in the expansion of jobs and tax revenues that will flow from that growth. Bottom line, it doesn't add up.

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article
About the Author
Ralph R. Reiland is the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise and an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.