But President Obama and most Democrats contend that small-business owners would not be affected much because only about 3% of them earn more than $250,000 a year. Democratic leaders agree with Republicans that those earning less should get a permanent tax break.
Rick Poore helps make their case. The owner of a Lincoln, Neb., clothing firm that employs about 30 people, Poore supports letting the top-level tax rates go up. The reason is simple: He won't be affected. Poore, 56, and his wife clear about $140,000 a year from the business.
"The only people I can think of who can honestly call themselves small businesses that this would effect would be stockbrokers and lawyers," Poore said. "And I don't have a lot of sympathy for either of them."