National Small Business Week and Michigan Politics


Yes, it’s that one time of year (other than election season) when everyone running for office, or trying to stay in office, claims to be the best friend small business ever had.

Like any good employer, voters should do a “background check” before they hire (vote) for someone who says one thing but does another. Many organizations that honestly represent small business (that is, they actually are accountable to their dues paying small business members) keep score on what elected officials actually do in office – rather than what they claim. Often the daylight between the two concepts is wide.

Take Congressman Gary Peters…please.

As he runs for U.S. Senate, he is already proclaiming himself a “champion of small business and free enterprise” as Detroit News blogger Henry Payne has aptly pointed out. So on a scale of 0-100 percent, with 100 percent being a perfect score, where is on the NFIB Congressional Vote Record? Let’s see: 29 percent.

For those that recall a similar grading scale used at one time by the public schools, that would be an “F” – as in failed. A big “F” when you consider that you have to be below 70 percent to enter failure territory.

In that regard he has something in common with his former peer in Congress, Mark Schauer, who also achieved an F score of 29 percent when he was in Congress. I bring that up because he has announced his intention to run for governor in Michigan. Again, as Payne observed in a recent column, he is also all about talking a good game when it comes to business.

So in the spirit of National Small Business Week, voters should do a thorough background check on all the fair weather “friends of small business” that love them to death while campaigning – and then turn their back when they get in office.

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About Charles Owens

Charles Owens has been advocating the interests of small business in the Michigan Legislature for over 25 years, beginning with his tenure at the Michigan Institute of Laundering and Dry-cleaning and currently with the National Federation of Independent Business / Michigan. As the State Director of one of Michigan's most respected small business organizations, Owens is responsible for directing the NFIB in its mission to maintain the viability of small business in the face of expanded legislative and regulatory challenges. Owens has been an active participant in the legislative debate over numerous landmark Michigan issues including: the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, inheritance tax, tort liability reform, Unemployment Insurance reform, Workers’ Compensation, and Michigan Occupational Safety & Health Act (MIOSHA) issues. Owens and the NFIB spearheaded the efforts of other small business groups in the fight for fairness and equity for small business in the debate over the repeal and replacement for the Michigan Business Tax. Owens is a 25 year member of the Capitol Club, a dedicated group of association executives committed to the advancement of legislative advocacy for their respective organizations. In 2005 he was elected by his peers to be President of the organization. In 2006, Owens was ranked as number five of the top ten single interest individual lobbyists in Michigan by Inside Michigan Politics. Under his leadership, NFIB was also ranked in the top twenty lobbyist organizations and top ten single interest lobbying organizations by the same publication. Originally a native of Rockford, Illinois, Owens graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelors Degree in Finance and Business Administration. follow on twitter: @OwensNFIB
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