Is new group a friend to business?
Posted: May 11th 2009
Sen. John Thune and Rep. Eric Cantor wrote the following column published in Politico.
It’s no secret that small businesses and entrepreneurs are the main engine of innovation and job growth in the U.S. economy. Today, as the nation struggles to regain its footing, we in Washington should be working overtime to give these job creators all the tools they need to thrive.
This should be a bipartisan endeavor. Republicans would welcome the opportunity to join forces with our Democratic colleagues on behalf of the small-business agenda. We hope this will include working with Business Forward, a Washington-based group soon to be launched by Democratic strategists. But that may depend on what Business Forward chooses to stand for.
The group says it wants to improve the business climate in America. We share that goal. But it also reportedly seeks to erect an umbrella of support within the business community for the Democrats’ economic agenda. The problem is that, to date, Democratic leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have supported policies that would erode U.S. competitiveness.
In order to clarify its purpose, Business Forward should take a position on taxes, card check, tort reform and trade policy — marquee issues that strike at the heart of private industry and the small-business community. If the group truly represents pro-business aims, there shouldn’t be much uncertainty about where it stands.
Specifically, we would like to hear Business Forward’s positions on:
Taxes. It is tough to imagine that any U.S. businesses would endorse the kind of heavy tax increases called for under the president’s budget. Small businesses, which create 70 percent of U.S. jobs, represent more than half of the “individuals” to be hit by over $1 trillion in tax hikes in the next decade. Additional tax hikes on American businesses will cost employers nearly $300 billion over the next 10 years, and tax increases on capital gains and dividends will only further deplete investment and consumer spending. Squeezing the most productive sectors of the economy is no way to kick-start a languishing economy.
Card check. Plain and simple, card check is a job killer. The Employee Free Choice Act, as it is deceptively named, would strip workers of the right to vote for union membership by private ballot, exposing them to coercion and intimidation. Just as bad, if a recently formed union doesn’t agree to a labor contract with an employer, a government arbitrator steps in to determine salaries, benefits and working conditions. Jobs aren’t created by government arbitrators or unions — they’re created by the small businesses and entrepreneurs who would be hardest hit by this law. Businesses understand that government should not stand in the way of their attempts to compete in the global marketplace.
Tort reform. The threat of frivolous lawsuits is a dark cloud that hangs over American businesses. As a result, insurance costs have soared while undercutting businesses’ ability to compete.
Free trade. Does Business Forward believe free trade is a net benefit or a net burden on the economy? The Democrat-controlled Congress has held up trade deals with Colombia and Panama that would make trade with both countries more free and more fair. The U.S. market is still extremely attractive, and free trade will continue to spur higher exports and more jobs at home.
The launch of Business Forward is something the business community and proponents of U.S. competitiveness should await with caution. The group’s founders say all the right things without taking a position on the issues of importance to American businesses. The business community should make sure it knows what Business Forward truly stands for before jumping on board.
Sen. John Thune (S.D.) is vice chairman of the Republican Conference and Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is House minority whip.