You have to be a glass-half-full sort of person to start a small business. This is borne out by a new survey from the Economist Intelligence Unit (a subsidiary of the English business magazine of the same name). Eighty-three percent of the small-business executives who responded said they’re optimistic about their long-term prospects. Although they’re not so bullish on the immediate future. Just 37 percent said they’re hopeful about the short term. (Maybe they need to put something else in their glass.)
Why are small businesses frowning? The same Economist survey asked small-business execs how they feel about the help they’re getting (or not getting) from the government. Forty-eight percent said they think their local government is “unsupportive” or “not at all supportive.” Surprisingly, the survey showed less displeasure with the feds: only 39 percent said the same about our national government.
Tax breaks trickling down. Maybe one reason small-business people are more upbeat about Washington is they’ve heard President Obama is rearranging the furniture at the IRS. As reported by Fox Business and others, the 2010 budget will close loopholes for large corporations and give the slack to the little guy. The budget will eliminate $36 billion in tax breaks for oil companies and raise another $86 billion by shutting the door on overseas tax shelters. It will shift some of the burden from small businesses by ending capital gains tax on investments in small-business stock (a move intended to lure investment) and letting small businesses use recent losses to offset earnings as far back as five years ago.
Mad as hell? Call the union. Small businesses and unions have traditionally not been the best of friends but the Service Employees International Union has set up a toll-free hotline (877-286-1JOB) and a website to help small-business owners who can’t get credit and are facing liquidation by bailed-out banks. Breathing fire (or is that a cheesesteak we smell?), the SEIU goes on to point out that, while Bank of America has taken $25 billion in bailout money, it is not keeping its promise to lend more. Instead, it’s spending on corporate jets and foreign investments. There’s a mildly amusing video on the topic here.
Still not mad? Put this in your piggybank and shake it. Think Progress and a few other blogs have noted that financial executives sitting on billions in bailout cash are happy to open the vault if it suits their pinstriped interests. They just peeled off $42 million to lobby against legislation that would have allowed judges to lower the mortgage rates of people who file for bankruptcy. In other words: big banks used taxpayer money to oppose a law that would help millions of taxpayers avoid foreclosure and eviction. Did the banks win? Of course they won. Congress members know where their campaign checks come from. If you’re a small-business owner and you’ve read this far, perhaps you’re not smiling anymore.