We certainly agree with President George W. Bush that Congress needs to move quickly to pass an economic stimulus package. The proposal the House and administration agreed to contains much-welcomed provisions that will keep small businesses represented Monday night in the First Lady's box by NFIB member Jim Barnard of Barnard Manufacturing in St. John's, Mich., creating new jobs and driving the economy.
Jim, who's his company's chief financial officer, can testify to the effectiveness of past increases in Sec. 179 expensing, which has allowed him to grow his business to about 125 employees. Doubling that amount to $250,000 will give him the means to invest in more equipment and more employees right away, and Congress should provide small businesses like Jim's that opportunity without delay.
Long term, though, small businesses look forward to permanent tax relief, both for their planning purposes and for the economic advantages the president's earlier tax cuts provided. We urge Congress to recognize the importance of this relief to small-business owners, and to move expeditiously to make tax cuts permanent. Reports tell us that in 11 of the past 12 months, small businesses added more jobs than medium- and large-size businesses combined, and that's a trend we want to maintain.
The president's address recognizes many important changes that need to be made to our health care system to provide access to affordable health care for all. Many of the points he made in Monday night's address are embodied in NFIB's 10 Principles for Small Business Health Care Reform, including:
- Increasing transparency in costs and quality to enable consumers to make better health care choices.
- Improving health care information technology to provide more transparent information more efficiently.
- Allowing members of groups such as NFIB to band together to negotiate prices for health insurance, and including the ability to purchase health insurance plans across state lines rather being limited to only the policies available in their state.
- Providing equitable tax treatments to help all Americans afford health insurance.
We look forward to working with policymakers on both sides of the aisle to turn these ideas into reality and providing a much-needed boost to small businesses that want to provide health plans to their employees, but just can't afford it.
Dan Danner is the executive vice president, public policy and political, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the nation's largest small business advocacy organiztion in Washington, D.C.