Mitt Romney and Barack Obama said the phrase “small business” a combined 29 times during Wednesday night’s debate, repeatedly sparring over who loves the little guy more.
They pulled entrepreneurs into disputes over taxes, health care, outsourcing and even Donald Trump. Yet there are certain small business facts that both candidates conveniently left out.
Here are five things Romney and Obama won't say about small business:
1. Small Businesses Don't Create The Majority Of Jobs
"It's small business that create the jobs in America," Romney said last night. But the truth is that, since 1990, large 500+ employee firms have done a better job generating employment than small firms with less than 50 workers, according to an analysis of government data by Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a HuffPost blogger.
As Bernstein noted in a recent blog post, studies showing small businesses create most of the nation's jobs use data that define small businesses as establishments of up to 500 employees including small units of big businesses such as CVS or Apple store locations.
On their own, small firms with 1-49 workers "are not disproportionate job creators," according to Bernstein.
2. Raising Taxes On The Rich Does Not Affect Small Businesses
Romney and Obama agreed on at least one thing last night: Raising taxes on the rich would affect only the top three percent of small business owners--those making more than $250,000 a year.
But the two candidates argued over whether the top three percent of business owners were actually job creators. Obama said the vast majority of them were wealthy people like Donald Trump, whose partnerships or S corporations get classified by the IRS as small businesses. Such investment vehicles are not businesses that hire workers and add to employment, Obama argued.
Romney, on the other hand, said those three percent of small business owners "employ one-quarter of all the workers in America."
But Romney is confused on this one. His stats come from a report by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a controversial conservative group that pulled its numbers from a 2011 report examining all businesses in the U.S. that don't pay corporate income tax. Combined, all of those companies employ one-quarter of American workers, but the top three percent employ a much smaller share.
John Arensmeyer, head of the Small Business Majority, a non-profit advocacy group, said that while there's little data available on the top three percent of business income earners, government data reveal that less than 17 percent of their total income comes from a business.
3. Obama Didn't Really Cut Taxes For Small Businesses 18 Times
Last night Obama touted his 18 small business tax cuts. But some of those "tax cuts" weren't really tax cuts at all. Rather, they were incentives, the New York Times recently reported. In other words, business owners had to spend money -- on health insurance, a new employee or new equipment -- in order to see any savings. On top of that, the NYT noted, most of the incentives have already expired.
4. Most Small Businesses Have One-Man Payrolls
More than 77 percent of small businesses consist of just one person, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. An additional 18 percent are micro-businesses, with fewer than 10 employees, the data show. Both figures suggest that the vast majority of small businesses, which both candidates have referred to as the engine of job growth in America, are, in fact, tiny enterprises with tiny payrolls.
5. The Small Business Job Creation Problem Goes Back Decades
Romney took a shot at Obama last night when he said that "over the last four years, small-business people have decided that America may not be the place to open a new business." But the small business job creation problem goes back further than Obama.
The rate of job growth in new U.S. companies (less than one-year-old) fell under both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. That's according to a report released in September by the Hudson Institute, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. The study showed a drop-off in startup jobs that started during George W. Bush's second term in 2006 and has accelerated under Obama.
Part of the problem is that, for decades, new firms in the U.S. have been opening their doors with fewer workers, according to the economist Robert Litan, who referred to the startling trend as "America's slow leak in job creation." New firms, he found, have contributed fewer and fewer new jobs to the economy since at least the middle of the last decade and perhaps earlier.
Janean Chun contributed to this report.
Also on HuffPost:
Romney Staff at Iowa Cafe: "Stuff Got Broke"
A campaign stop by Mitt Romney and his staffers at an Iowa cafe left Dianne Bauer, owner of Main Street Cafe, fuming: She <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/14/romney-leaves-mess-at-local-cafe_n_1597257.html" target="_hplink">complained</a> about damaged property, Secret Service blocking bathroom access and Romney not introducing himself to the cafe's staff. "Stuff got broke," Bauer said.
Obama vs. Ohio Deli Owner
While most small businesses like free advertising, Debra Krause-McDonnell, the owner of Krause's grocery store in Cincinnati <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/debra-krause-mcdonnell_n_1773149.html?utm_hp_ref=small-business" target="_hplink">had a bone to pick with President Obama after his ad featured her storefront without her consent</a>.
Romney Can't Identify a Donut
In <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/mitt-romney-struggles-to-identify-a-donut" target="_hplink">video obtained by BuzzFeed</a>, Romney attempts to identify a donut but after a few stammers says "Can you see that one of those chocolate, um, uh, chocolate goodies finds its way to our ride?"
Hermain Cain and the Dead Small Business Rabbit
With several <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/30/herman-cain-smoking-ad-bob-schieffer_n_1066039.html" target="_hplink">strange advertisements</a> during his campaign, it seems fitting that former Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain would continue the trend after his campaign's suspension. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/herman-cain-new-ad_n_1379583.html" target="_hplink">The "Rabbit" ad</a> for Cain's <a href="http://SickOfStimulus.com" target="_hplink">SickOfStimulus.com</a> features a young girl placing a rabbit into a catapult while saying "This is small business under the current tax code." The rabbit is then launched from the catapult and "killed" in mid-air by a man holding a rifle. Another Cain ad used a <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYN-Awrq3og&context=C4830a86ADvjVQa1PpcFN1bXIVcqsE-PGGTXrjsiOg2M7br15eYTI=" target="_hplink">flopping, out-of-water goldfish</a> to represent the economy after the stimulus.
John Kerry's Cheesesteak Order
Pat's King Of Steaks in Philadelphia is famous along with rival Geno's Steaks for strict ordering rules, complete with commandments on their window that read "If you make a mistake, don't panic, just go to the back of the line and start over." John Kerry should have paid closer attention. During a July 2009 visit, <a href="http://www.philly.com/philly/restaurants/Photo_oop_Kerry_eats_a_cheesesteak_hoagie__with_Swiss.html" target="_hplink">Kerry ordered Swiss cheese on his cheesesteak</a> which isn't an option at Pat's, where cheez whiz, Provolone and American are offered. Pat's claimed that if Kerry were elected, Swiss would be added to the menu. We know how that worked out.
Newt Gingrich Stiffs Small Businesses
After a debt laden campaign, some <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/gingrich-campaign-vendors-paid_n_1416084.html" target="_hplink">small businesses are still waiting for payment</a> from former Republican candidate and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. These debts include $7,439.62 of printed campaign materials from Las Vegas Color Graphics, $5,000 for signs from Florida's Insite Political and $24,000 for ad productions from Florida's Noiseworks.
Gary Bauer's Botched Pancake Flip
During a campaign stop in New Hampshire in 2000, Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer participated in the Bisquick Pancake-Flipping Contest. As Bauer tracked his high flying pancake after the flip, he managed to take a tumble off the stage, causing the crowd to gasp.
Palin and the Turkey
(Interview at 2:50) In November 2008 Sarah Palin visited Triple D farm near her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska to <a href="http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2008/11/sarah-palin-pardons-a-turkey.html" target="_hplink">grant the traditional Thanksgiving pardon to one turkey</a>. Shortly after the pardon however, Palin took questions from reporters with a farmer in the background clearly slaughtering other turkeys and birds. CORRECTION: An earlier version of this slideshow described the device being used behind Palin as a "grinder" for slaughtering poultry. That was incorrect.
Romney's Lemonade Gaffe
While celebrating July 4 in New Hampshire, Romney took a break to guzzle lemonade. When asked how it tasted <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/05/romneys-lemonade-gaffe-what-was-he-thinking_n_1652138.html" target="_hplink">Romney replied</a> "Lemon. Wet. Good."
Romney and "CookieGate"
Business surged for Pennsylvania's Bethel Bakery after Romney joked about its cookies: "I'm not sure about these cookies," Romney told a woman at the table. "They don't look like you made them. No, no. They came from the 7-11 bakery, or whatever." <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/cookiegate-romney-cookie_n_1449848.html" target="_hplink">"CookieGate"</a> was great publicity for Bethel, in business since 1955.