The 112th’s job: Boosting business confidence

To boost confidence among entrepreneurs and investors, America’s political leaders need to send positive, pro-business signals. Members of Congress and President Obama have talked a good game of supporting small business, but the policies of the past two years have been downright hostile. Indeed, it’s time for a major shift in direction.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are looking for signals and incentives to innovate, invest and add to their payrolls. To that end, paring back government regulations that are costly and unnecessary while advancing pro-growth measures that free up the time and resources of hard-working business owners need to be a priority. If our political leaders in Washington commit themselves to doing all they can to help American business early in 2011, confidence can be restored and healthy economic growth will follow.

Here are key issues the 112th Congress must focus on:

Tax reform: The tax system is a mess. Congress must work to secure a stable and competitive pro-entrepreneur tax system. An ever-changing tax code, as it now stands, with the potential for tax increases in 2012 does not instill full confidence in investors and the private sector. The tax mess needs to be addressed by locking in a pro-growth tax system.

Affordable health care: Paring back the most costly and damaging aspects of the new health care law (tax hikes, employer and individual mandates, anti-competitive regulatory measures, expanded 1099 reporting, etc.) is a necessary step towards encouraging job creation. Repealing Obamacare is the ideal solution, as its new taxes and regulations remain a source of anxiety for business owners. Currently, Obamacare is doing the opposite of what was promised — health care costs are rising, choices are being taken away, and — through an obscure waiver process — only the powerful and politically connected are able to escape the law’s grip, leaving small business owners left to comply with its costly consequences.

Regulatory restraint and accountability: Federal government agencies and departments are out of control. Quite simply, there is no accountability. Regulatory activists have lost touch with reality. From the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the U.S. Labor Department and beyond, Congress needs to step up and overrule harsh and unjustifiable regulatory action. Aggressive oversight is needed, which will curtail regulatory extremism in general.

Government spending: Cut, cut and cut more. The U.S. needs to get our fiscal house in order. Without such, our economy will underperform and investment and job creation will remain anemic.

Energy development and production: The U.S. needs to produce more energy — period. Gas prices are rising, and with diminished production we are on an unsustainable course, requiring us to import greater levels of oil and gas. Extreme anti-energy forces based at EPA (and lodged within the federal government in general) are hurting consumers, small business owners and U.S. competitiveness. Reversing the anti-energy trend is critical to bringing about stable and affordable energy prices.

Trade: Congress must quickly pass the South Korea trade deal and existing trade accords must be completed. The U.S. needs to get back in the game on trade, as we are losing ground to competitors. Opening additional global markets will provide small business owners with growth opportunities. The bulk of U.S. exporters are small to mid-sized firms — increased market access means more business for our entrepreneurs.