President Obama, take note. Small business owners think Washington has become increasingly hostile in recent years to free enterprise and thus to job creation, a survey conducted last week found. And his policies are part of the problem.
Sixty percent of small business owners said the president’s health care program will have a “negative impact” on their businesses this year. This includes owners of businesses who are Democrats (53 percent), independents (79 percent) and Republicans (79 percent).
Obama might be surprised to know that Obamacare isn’t the only one of his policies that owners of businesses with fewer than 100 employees believe will have an adverse effect on their firms’ growth and hiring.
The survey of 600 small business owners was conducted for the Job Creators Alliance, a new organization founded by Bernie Marcus, a founder of The Home Depot. Its goal is to improve the economic environment for small business, especially their ability to hire more workers.
One question in the poll asked which of three Obama policies–new regulations, increased tax rates, and Obamacare–would be “most likely to adversely impact the growth of your business and hiring plans.” The result was new regs (20 percent), higher taxes (17 percent) and Obamacare (21 percent). Though “all of the above” was listed as a possibility, and 27 percent volunteered it.
Still another finding, this one about the deal averting the fiscal cliff, may disturb Obama. The business owners were asked what one aspect of the deal bothered them the most. Forty-eight percent said it was the lack of substantial spending cuts. Obama refused to agree to anything more than minimal cuts. The next closest complaint was the expiration of the payroll tax holiday (16 percent).
Wes Anderson, the pollster, said there was “very little partisan polarization” in the results of the survey. Yet fewer Democrats who own small businesses regard Washington as hostile to their interests. Only 41 of Democrats said Washington policies are harmful, compared to 68 percent of independents and 88 percent of Republicans. Among liberals. 46 percent said Washington policies are “more or less hostile.” Sixty-three percent of independents agreed with this and 86 percent of conservatives.
An open-ended question didn’t offer much solace to Obama either. It asked: “What is the single most important issue facing America’s small businesses today?” The result was taxes (25 percent), health care (11 percent), government regulations (10 percent), the economy (8 percent), and the budget deficit (7 percent).
In his speeches, Obama often says he’s strongly aided small businesses. He’d be wise to reconsider this. Whether small business owners are even aware of the aid–mostly tax cuts for which few qualify–is unclear. In any case, it’s dwarfed by Washington policies that owners think will cause their businesses to suffer or already have.