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By Marshall Kirby, Policy Analyst

As a citizen, the debate over budget cuts and the fiscal crisis has permeated throughout the media.  The one thing all sides agree on is that something will need to be done to shore up America’s fiscal position sooner rather than later.  It seems hard to believe that a decade ago discussion of the US deficit raised little concern even from well respected “deficit hawks.”  However, over the last ten years, our country has consistently spent far more than it received in revenues.  This has led us to the point where even those analysts who believed that America’s fiscal position was strong have now raised their eyebrows with regard to our country’s long term budget sustainability and solvency.

Right now, Republicans and Democrats both acknowledge the situation and the need to produce meaningful budget cuts.  However, Republicans have seized momentum from the political wind and have put forth a budget in the House of Representatives which puts through deeper cuts in non-defense discretionary spending than the President’s own budget.  Both the Administration’s budget and the one put forth in the House have received a lot of criticism with a mix of praise.  Deficit hawks and Tea Party supporters have praised the House budget, and less hawkish analysts also concerned with education and infrastructure have been sympathetic towards President Obama’s.

I’d venture a guess based on polling numbers from various news agencies and organizations that the average American is fairly concerned with America’s and their own state’s deficit problems.  At the same time most are more deeply concerned about the economy, growth, and employment.  Coming out this week in the Washington Post (article can be viewed here) was a report by Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody’s which has predicted that if the House budget were to become our nation’s budget 700,000 jobs Read the rest of this entry »


By Marshall Kirby, Public Policy Analyst

Almost everyone knows America is facing a fiscal and budget crisis.  Years of spending more than was brought in have now caught up with us, with some help from a recession.  You’d be hard pressed to find an economist or policy analyst who would argue that this is not a major concern for the economy and nation as a whole.  However, you do find debates in the policy solutions legislators propose.  Should we make serious cuts in budgets to reduce the deficit, or do we make gradual cuts given that we still are in the midst of high unemployment and economic uncertainty?  There are serious and sound arguments that each side can make.  But when it comes down to it, there needs to be a sound strategy of what we can realistically cut without producing negative short, mid, and long term implications for the economy at large.

This is where many people get frustrated (including myself).  There are a lot of things that the government spends on that are wasteful, just as there are many valuable programs that promote growth and important social causes.  However, this does not help in quantifying these areas – in fact we live in a highly partisan time and each party’s anathema is the other’s idea of a successful program.  However, it seems in the past few weeks that Democrats and Republicans have found some bipartisan common ground – albeit with a frightening proposal.

Senators Mary Landrieu and Olympia Snowe both on the Senate Small Business Committee, have formed a cross party alliance and have drafted a letter already sent to Small Business Administration head Karen Mills.  The leaders request that Ms. Mills come up with programs which can be “cut” or “eliminated” without hampering the ability of the SBA to operate and serve the Small Business Community.  Both Senators in the past have been avid supporters of the SBA and of promoting small business interests.  It seems even stranger in that the previous decade was marked with reductions in the budget.  In 2006, the budget was $440 million, down from 2001 when it was $674 million.  To President Obama’s credit, he restored some of the SBA’s funding in 2010 bringing it $687 million (this is a nominal increase, but when accounting for inflation, it represents still a lower proportion of funding than in 2001).  The stimulus bill did provide additional money for small business loans, but with that funding drying up, the future is uncertain for the types of programs and loans it will be able to deliver to business owners and entrepreneurs. Read the rest of this entry »

The following article was posted in late December, however, we thought it deserved another read.  We especially liked the part about the Small Business Innovation and Research funding bill getting hijacked, taking everything out of it that has to do with small business assistance, and used to pass the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal.  Bravo Congress.

previously posted here:

Two federal programs that help foster small-business innovation have struggled for financial support this year.  The Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs limp along from year to year on annual authorizations, waiting for lawmakers to get up the gumption to make their more than $2 billion in funding permanent.

An agreement to reauthorize the funding for a year almost coalesced last summer, but then ground to a halt when the Senate and House couldn’t agree on language that might have helped venture capitalists invest and helped more-established businesses qualify for the funding.

We all know money for innovation and research is always money well-spent. New products and new technologies help drive the economy forward again.
So what’s the holdup? Here’s why this vital funding effort continues to flounder:

Too many bigger problems. This has been a year of big-picture thinking — healthcare reform and big stimulus packages. SBIR kind of got lost in the shuffle. Read the rest of this entry »

by Marshall Kirby, Public Policy Analyst

It may be down right now, but it is anything but out.  Given our belief in its eventual revival, we thought it might be pertinent to take a closer look at the economic implications of the Dream Act.

The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) has been a contentious piece of legislation from its very beginning.  Legislators and the American public seem to be more polarized than ever on virtually everything, especially the complicated legal, economic, and moral implications regarding immigration issues.  One only needs to look back several years to recall the firestorm of activism which Comprehensive Immigration Reform created.  The DREAM Act has not proven to be any different as activists on both sides seem keen to repeat slogans to key up their base.  On the right you are likely to hear calls of “amnesty” and on the left you will hear calls of this being a civil rights issue.

The specifics of the DREAM Act varied with each version drafted by legislators.  The over-arching goal is to provide undocumented young people who have lived in the United States a path to citizenship to allow them to reach their full potential.  In order to be eligible, an individual must be 16 years old, born outside of the US, and be brought to the United States by others (i.e. their family).  Furthermore, the individual must volunteer their service in the military or graduate college with at least an Associate’s degree.  This certainly is a noble goal, and one which is relevant to the situation of immigration.  However, like all federal legislation – it never is really that simple and the bill is so complex with good and bad policy interventions mixed in.

The DREAM Act recently failed passage in the United States Senate after it had passed the House of Representatives.  The only thing that remains clear is that our immigration system is clearly broken and in dire need of repair.  As Americans, we tend to forget that we are citizens of a country which millions of individuals across the world are willing to go to great lengths to come to whether legally or illegally.  They come for a multitude of individual reasons, but collectively they all fall into three general categories – political and individual freedom, safety and security, and a chance for economic prosperity. Read the rest of this entry »

By: Marshall Kirby, Public Policy Analyst

In 2012 new 1099 IRS tax rules for the self-employed and small businesses are set to take effect.  Under the new system, a business will be required to issue 1099’s for purchases and sales to all suppliers, vendors, clients, and contractors paid over $600 in the course of the calendar year (Senator Baucus Wants).  The goal of the new tax law is to bring in those small businesses [including freelancers and individuals] not currently paying taxes on their services (Roth, Tanya).

First it may help to define what a 1099 is.  In the most general sense, 1099 is an IRS tax form which taxpayers and small businesses must file to report income not earned from salaried employment and not subject to Federal payroll tax.  More specifically, it includes stocks and securities, real estate, interest income, cancellation of debt, and, perhaps most pertinent to the small business person, short-term employment contracts and other services rendered.

Originally, this was an idea from the Bush Administration.  The new 1099 provisions have been enacted as part of the Health Care Reform law from earlier this year (Roth, Tanya).  This provision in the law is estimated to raise $17 billion dollars over 10 years, or an average of $1.7 billion a year (Smith, Ned).  Detractors of this amendment have gone on record saying that the changes will be a major detriment to the business environment for contractors, freelancers, and for small firms.

The National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olsen, has stated that the increased paperwork and administrative burden this legislation puts on firms “may turn out to be disproportionate” to any fiscal gain created by this policy (Roth, Tanya). Read the rest of this entry »

Santa’s personal wish list is not that different from every other business owner’s.

A lot of Congressmen are going to have coal in their stockings this year.

as posted by Cato:

Adam Thierer’s lead article in the most recent Cato Policy Report is called “The Sad State of Cyber-Politics.” It goes through so many ways tech and telecom companies are playing the Washington game to win or keep competitive advantage.

It’s a nice set-up to a Washington Post opinion piece from this weekend in which TownFlier CEO Morris Panner talks about the growing riches accruing to Washington influencers:

We are creating so much regulation – over tax policy, health care, financial activity – that smart people have figured out that they can get rich faster and more easily by manipulating rules on behalf of existing corporations than by creating net new activity and wealth. Gamesmanship pays better than entrepreneurship. Read the rest of this entry »

A study by the Pew Hispanic Center shows Latinos lack national leadership in America.

The Pew study surveyed Hispanics nationally asking them ‘Who is the most important Latino leader in the country today?”.

Seventy-four percent said don’t know or no one.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor received 7 percent the most of any person named.

The survey results show both parties have opportunities but have missed chances with Latino voters.

Republicans take anti-immigrant stances sometimes which turn Hispanics off but appeal to Latinos on social and entrepreneurial issues. Most Latinos are Catholic and more socially conservative. Read the rest of this entry »

November 17, 2010

1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. ET

“Post-Election Outlook: What will Congress do during the Lame Duck, and the Legislative/Business Outlook 2011”


Please join SBE Council President & CEO Karen Kerrigan, and Andrew Sherman, partner, JonesDay, for another exciting Growth Without Barriers webcast on November 17, 2010.

This COMPLIMENTARY webcast will provide an in-depth report on what the 2010 election results mean for small business; the outlook for the Lame Duck session of Congress; and the legislative and regulatory outlook for 2011.  Karen and Andrew will address the status of tax policy, reforming the health care overhaul bill, regulatory activity in federal departments and agencies and what entrepreneurs can generally expect from Washington in 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

By Justin Velez-Hagan

National Executive Director

Washington, D.C., September 28, 2010.  Yesterday, the president signed into law the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act.  The bill has been touted as one of the best ideas for reinvigorating small business and job growth and, hence, deserves an analysis by The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, a staunch supporter of small business and entrepreneurship.

The legislation itself provides temporary tax incentives as well as a general account intended to provide local community banks with funding for small business lending.  Although its intent is clear, language within the bill does not guarantee funding for small business lending.  While 13 democrats voted against it, only 3 republicans supported the bill.  One of those democrats, the Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee and the first Puerto Rican woman elected to U.S. Congress, Nydia Velasquez (NY), voted against the bill amidst concerns that capital from the bill would not go to its intended source.

After examining the bill, it becomes clear that the tax incentives are temporary and greater strain will be placed upon small businesses, limiting their ability to stimulate the economy.  Dr. Jeffrey R. Cornwall, the Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship at Belmont University, states that small business owners “don’t need more debt, they need more customers—and the government can’t provide those.”[i]

What Makes the Entrepreneur Tick? Read the rest of this entry »

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