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Karen Mills Headshot

A Blow to America's Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs

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I've spent most of my career in the private sector. I've run companies, invested in businesses, and helped grow start up ventures. When President Obama asked me to join his administration as Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration in 2009, I tried to apply some of the lessons I learned in the private sector to the government at a time of extreme pain for America's small business owners. We worked around the clock to free up lending and help entrepreneurs get back on track. We've now seen 42 straight months of job growth and business confidence is steadily increasing.

Unfortunately, that progress could be derailed by the reckless behaviors that have led to today's shut down of the federal government. Indeed, Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics, estimates that a three to four week government shut down can cut our economic growth by 1.4 percentage points. At the most basic level that means businesses will once again stop hiring and consumers will stop spending. Business will take a "wait and see" approach on investing in that next piece of equipment or opening that next location.

This tactic of holding the economy hostage over political maneuvering is not new. Over the past few years, we've seen this several times: Continuing Resolutions instead of yearly budgets being passed and short term fixes on the debt ceiling limit. In both of those situations Congress put politics ahead of substance. Today's confrontation ties our economic well being to a delay or repeal of the Affordable Care Act -- a law upheld by the United States Supreme Court with the potential to benefit millions of small businesses across the country.

For the past four years I have traveled across this country talking to small business owners about their concerns. Once you cut through all the misinformation, the simple fact is that the Affordable Care Act is good for small business. Currently, small businesses pay on average 18 percent more than big businesses for the same insurance coverage. The Affordable Care Act address this imbalance by creating the Small Business Health Option Program (SHOP) Marketplaces, an exchange that allows insurance companies to compete for small businesses, and allows transparency and comparison shopping.

SHOPs opened today. But instead of celebrating an important milestone for small businesses, we're faced with the prospect of lost revenue and declining confidence as a result of the shutdown.

House Republicans must come to their senses and start governing responsibly. Our economy -- and the small business owners who serve as its backbone -- deserve nothing less.

Originally posted on Harvard's Institute of Politics Blog