Earth to Washington: Small-Business Fiscal Model Not Rocket Science

Although American small-business owners survived Washington’s fiscal cliff fiasco, few of them are dancing in the streets. Instead, they’re bracing for yet another government-induced crisis as early as mid-February when our national debt hits its ceiling.

Although the cliff deal spared a majority of them a tax increase and will seize less of their estates, most entrepreneurs continue to despair. Few believe a “real” solution to the nation’s debt and addictive spending habits will be reached.

Their negative outlook for relief continues at historic low levels, according to the latest National Federation of Independent Business Optimism Index. And they aren’t alone in their worries. A new Gallup poll found that 77 percent of Americans believe politics is seriously harming the nation.

Every day, small-business owners make tough decisions in order to survive. Their way of life could be instructive for a government that desperately needs a role model.

Instead of taking “fact finding” junkets to foreign nations, perhaps lawmakers should spend their time visiting Main Street businesses. The owners are easy to spot. They’re the ones with worried brows standing close to the cash drawer doing everything they can to satisfy customers.

Two words: “How’s business?” will provide elected officials much greater insight into the concerns facing those job creators than countless hours of Capitol Hill committee hearings.

Asking “Is now a good time to expand?” will likely draw an “Are you kidding?” response, but it will keep the conversation going.

Lawmakers should then ask: “What can Washington do to help?” That will bring an earful, but the message will be simple: “Cut spending, reduce regulation, balance the budget.”

Yes, it is that simple. Whether you’re the greatest, most productive nation on earth or a one-shop small-business owner struggling to enjoy the American Dream, the fundamentals are the same.

Small-business owners who can’t afford expensive yachts, if they’re wise, don’t buy them. Governments that can’t afford unnecessary programs, if they’re honest with the taxpayers they represent, don’t shirk their fiduciary responsibilities and put their societies at risk.

What can Washington do to help? They can avoid this latest fiscal danger by simply adopting the small-business model of spending less than it takes in, re-investing for growth and saving for rainy days that will surely come. That’s not rocket science.

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About Dan Danner

Donald A. "Dan" Danner was named president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation's leading small business association, in February, 2009. Danner is only the sixth president in the history of the organization. Before rising to the top spot, Danner was executive vice president, overseeing NFIB's federal and state public policy and political activities as well as the organization's three 501 (c) 3 operations: the Research Foundation, Small Business Legal Center and the Young Entrepreneur Foundation. He came to NFIB in 1993 as vice president of the NFIB Education Foundation (now known as the Young Entrepreneur Foundation) and was named vice president of federal public policy in 1995. Previously, he was chief of staff to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. Danner also worked in the White House Office of Public Liaison, where he was special assistant to the president and deputy director of the department. Before joining the White House staff, Danner was an executive with Armco Inc., a steel manufacturing company. He held leadership positions in sales and marketing, as well as state and federal lobbying on issues such as energy, environment, taxes and trade. He also served four years as vice president of federal relations at George Mason University. A native of Middletown, Ohio, Danner holds an MBA degree from Xavier University and an electrical engineering degree from Purdue University.
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