The mid-term elections are now behind us, and small businesses across America march on. Politics and regulation, among other things, play such a large role in the life of an entrepreneurial venture. Policies legislated can have a big impact on macroeconomic issues like job creation, wages, and production. The upcoming 116th United States Congress will need to address the concerns that surround small business growth.
It is not surprising that healthcare was the number one issue for small businesses to take up with Congress. Individuals make up companies, and people are concerned with the rising cost of healthcare. According to a new poll, 31% of businesses list healthcare as the top issue for the new Congress. One of the most challenging aspects of running a small business comes from managing healthcare for your employees. Without a doubt, your workers’ health is important, but the increased healthcare costs make finances difficult to manage. While “Obamacare” is undoubtedly beneficial for the health of workers, it’s often the business owners that receive the financial blow. At the center of some of this controversy are pre-existing conditions and whether or not they will be part of any healthcare packages.
A recent poll by The Small Business Policy Agenda paints a different view of employer optimism than the one that is usually published by the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Respondents suggested that the continuing uncertainty around healthcare is impacting small business optimism. In fact, only 20% of respondents reported that they felt more optimistic about the future of their companies. The survey also concludes that the largest swath (57%) reported feeling about the same as before the mid-terms. When it comes to the bigger picture and small business owners’ general view of the entire American economy, only a small percentage (17%) were optimistic.
One of the other big takeaways from the poll is a concern over the new Congress and implications for tax reform and small business. According to entrepreneur and U.S. Chamber Small Business Policy Committee Chair Christel Slaughter, “We are putting tax reform savings to work by reinvesting in our employees, our businesses, and our communities.” Returning to the poll data for a moment, half of the people responding felt that the new 116th Congress would hurt their business when it comes to the previous tax reforms brought in by the Trump administration. No doubt this was buoyed by the fact that liberal Democrats have taken back the house. This sheds some light on the recent uncertainty in optimism. The Trump tax cuts and reduced regulation have spurn economic growth for these businesses over the past two years. That the new Congress could undo all this is troublesome. Combine that with no definitive healthcare solution, and you have uncertainty, which no one enjoys.
While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act put wind at small business owners’ backs, many of these benefits will expire in 2025. It will be important to continue to work with the Senate Finance Committee to attempt to make these tax cuts permanent. Changes are coming, and hopefully they will be beneficial to business in the long run.