09/19/2012 09:39 am ET Updated Nov 19, 2012

Which Party Is Truly a "Friend" of the Self-Employed?

Both political parties are saying that voters have a "clear choice" at the ballot box this year. But for small business and self-employed voters who are looking for answers within the party platforms that were finalized at the national conventions, the answer is about as clear as mud. In fact, the Republican and Democrat party platforms are suspiciously interchangeable when it comes to promises to America's small businesses. Don't believe me? Take this little quiz, and identify which of these statements are from the Democrat platform and which are from the Republican platform:

  1. "Small businesses are the engine of job growth in America."
  2. "Small businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy."
  3. "[We support] tax cuts for small businesses that make new investments, hire more workers, or increase wages."
  4. "We will serve as aggressive advocates for small businesses"

Ready for the answers? Numbers 2 and 4 are statements in the Republican Party's 2012 national platform; and 1 and 3 are statements in the Democrat Party's 2012 national platform.

But what about the detailed commitments to small businesses and the self-employed? Here's another brief quiz. Match the statement below to the proper national party platform:

  1. "We will address the impending individual tax rate increase, to make sure that self-employed businesses owners don't see their tax rate go up at the beginning of 2013."
  2. "We will pass legislation to make a full deduction of health insurance premiums for the self-employed permanent."
  3. "We will pass legislation to make the tax deduction for start-up business expenses permanent, instead of letting the provision expire at the end of this year."
  4. "We will pass legislation to simplify the home office deduction for home-based businesses, the working arrangement preferred by many self-employed, by allowing the option of a standard $1,500 deduction for home office expenses."

Ready for the answers? The sad truth is that these statements don't appear on either party platform. They do, however, appear on the platform of the National Association for the Self-Employed. Instead of pie-in-the-sky ideals, we'd be better served by some real policy solutions from the parties and the candidates. That's the only way the self-employed and small business owners can truly have a clear choice.