Small Business Owners Tell Congress to Tax the Rich

In two letters to Congress, small business owners and executives contend they’d be best served by increasing taxes on the rich and preserving social safety net programs.

The business owners and executives, members of non-partisan small business organizations, wrote Congress this month asking lawmakers to avoid cutting programs like Social Security and Medicare. In addition, they asked Congress to let expire the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich. The business groups are the American Sustainable Business Council, the Business for Shared Prosperity and the Main Street Alliance, which together include networks of more than 150,000 small businesses and 300,000 executives, owners and investors.

A letter from the American Sustainable Business Council and the Business for Shared Prosperity explains that the businessmen believe government programs like Social Security provide Americans with the financial stability they need to be able patronize small businesses.

“Huge tax cuts for the richest Americans have not trickled down to increase small- and medium-sized business investment, broad based consumer purchasing power or job creation,” reads the letter sent to Congress by the two small business organizations.

“As business owners, none of us hire more employees simply because someone gives us a tax cut.  We hire more employees when our customers demand more of what we have to sell.  When a teacher, firefighter or construction worker building public infrastructure loses his or her job, many of us also lose a customer,” the letter continues.

The small business men and women say they won’t be affected for the most part by permitting the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy to expire. According to the American Sustainable Business Council less than 3 percent of individual tax filers with business income earn enough to pay a higher rate. That is $200,000 for individuals or $250,000 for couples.  Many of those who do earn enough to be affected are not small business owners in the traditional sense but instead include Wall Street investors, lobbyists, and wealthy CEOs earning income advising other corporations.

Small business owners also addressed so-called entitlement programs. A letter signed by the 12-member national steering committee of the Main Street Alliance, a policy-oriented coalition of politically independent small business owners, notes that cuts to programs like Medicare disproportionately affect workers like them.  Many workers in small businesses do not receive company pensions or retiree health benefits, forcing them to rely on Medicare and Social Security when they retire.

The letter also expresses small business owners’ concern that cuts to social programs will affect consumer spending: “Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare protect people and inject money into local economies.  They give people a basic income and make sure they don’t have to spend every last dime on healthcare.  That way, people have something left to spend in their local economies—and our businesses.”

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