THE BLOG

Main Street or Wall Street? Why Not Both?

03/08/2012 01:32 pm ET | Updated May 08, 2012

It has become a time-honored tradition for politicians to claim they're looking out for "Main Street, not Wall Street." Capitol Hill is littered with proposals that are supposed to help small businesses compete in the marketplace and the Obama Administration has made this kind of messaging a key plank in their platform.

As is often the case, the truth is not always what it may seem. While there are many proposals before Congress that will specifically address key challenges facing entrepreneurs contemplating or already running businesses, many of these efforts fall short of real help for Main Street. And in many cases, the reason is that they fail to address the entire marketplace: 78 percent of the small businesses in the U.S. are self-employed professionals. The self-employed are a huge majority of the small businesses on Main Street, but many of the proposals being considered ignore this fact.

A case in point is the Obama administration's recent proposal on corporate tax reform. It's great news if you're a corporation, and many of America's largest companies will likely benefit if it becomes law. Good for them. But the 22 million self-employed Americans who do so much to drive economic growth day in and day out are ignored in this proposal. If we're going to talk about tax reform, we need to be talking about reform across the board, not just for those who seem to command the most attention and action from Congress and the White House.

Self-employed Americans are working every day in every community across the country. They're paying taxes and making the tough business decisions required to compete in a challenging marketplace. But current tax regulations and uncertainty about tax policy effectively means many entrepreneurs are operating with one hand tied behind their backs. What's often holding them back are tax policies that ignore the unique characteristics of the self-employed and apply a one-size-fits-all requirement to a diverse, varied community.

The NASE's Self-Employed Agenda reflects the priorities of America's entrepreneurs on tax policy -- it's a set of five common-sense solutions that, if enacted, will help level the playing field for the self-employed by enabling them to start and build their businesses without the burdensome and confusing requirements of an unequal tax code.

It's a good thing there is a renewed national conversation about tax reform, but let's take our blinders off and see the whole picture of Main Street: effective tax reform means comprehensive tax reform that helps all of the sectors of the economy, including the self-employed.