Our country was built by entrepreneurs--hard working people whose innovation, sacrifices and accomplishments made America what it is today. Thanks to their dedication and creativity, small businesses have become the backbone of our economy. Today, on National Entrepreneurs' Day, it's important to consider the tremendous impact they have on our economy.
The small business economy includes 6 million small firms and 22 million self-employed individuals. In addition, small firms account for half of private sector employment and have created two out of three net new jobs over the past couple of decades.
But since President Obama proclaimed the first National Entrepreneurs' Day in 2010, our nation's entrepreneurs have struggled to continue recovering from the Great Recession. From the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis to delays with healthcare reform, small businesses have found it difficult to grow in this economy. As we look forward to the upcoming holiday season, let's honor our country's biggest job creators by considering smart policies that help them create new jobs and strengthen our economy.
The Healthcare Law: Get Informed
There's been a lot of hubbub around the new federal health insurance marketplaces. The general marketplace website, Healthcare.gov, has technical problems and small business owners haven't been able to enroll online. Despite the glitches, the self-employed now have the option to shop for more affordable coverage through the individual marketplace. This is huge, given nearly 30 percent of the 22 million self-employed individuals in this country are uninsured. We know from our polling that small business owners are eager to use these marketplaces to help lower their costs and improve their bottom line. It's imperative entrepreneurs get information about their options so they can enroll now in the individual marketplace or through the small business portal once it's available. Small employers can call a broker right now to get a quote and begin the enrollment process.
Reforming our Broken Immigration System
Small businesses strongly believe our immigration system is broken and they support comprehensive immigration reform. Our polling found small businesses believe creating a path to earned citizenship is the most appropriate solution for handling our country's 11 million undocumented immigrants. Three-quarters agree turning them into taxpayers--which would add $1.5 trillion to the economy over the next 10 years and produce a net increase in tax revenue of $4.5 billion to $5.4 billion in the first three years alone--makes them view a plan the Senate recently passed positively.
Unfortunately, lawmakers in the House of Representatives recently announced a decision to abandon any attempts at moving forward with immigration reform this year. This is disappointing for small employers, workers and the economy. Entrepreneurs have voiced their strong support for immigration reform because they believe it will be good for America, good for small businesses and provide major economic benefits. The failure to address this issue doesn't do our primary job creators or our still-struggling economy any favors. Lawmakers should reconsider their decision to table this bill and put it back on the docket now.
Long-Term Solutions to Our Budget Woes
Our opinion polling has shown that strengthening the economy has been a top priority for small business owners, and they want it to be lawmakers', as well. The nation's debt ceiling was front and center this fall when we nearly defaulted on our debt. A short-term solution was put in place, but small businesses want a long-term fix that gives them the certainty they need to make critical decisions about their business. A continual state of crisis is bad for consumer, investor and business confidence.
Before we reach the debt ceiling again in early 2014, Congress needs to come together to find a solution to this problem now and for the future. Our polling found that a by a 3:2 ratio, the majority of entrepreneurs want a solution to our recurring debt ceiling issue that is long-term rather than short-term, so the U.S. can pay its bills without the issue coming up for political votes over and over again. What's more, a 55 percent majority agrees this ongoing issue allows politicians to hold the economy hostage to their own spending priorities and threatens the U.S. credit rating.
And while small business owners recognize the need for a solution to our budget crisis, they feel the right solution--while mindful of our deficit--must be cognizant of the fact that our economy isn't out of the woods yet. Any plan to control our debt must provide support for job creation and the economy, not hold them hostage.
Politicians talk a lot about how important small businesses are to our economy. Today, on National Entrepreneurs' Day, Congress should send a message that they are serious about supporting them. Small businesses need all the help they can get to help grow our economy, and lawmakers should enact smart policies that give them what they need to compete.