President and CEO, Mindful Technologies, customer-service software,
Wish List. As a high-tech
entrepreneur, I don't have the kind of policy wish list that a multibillion
dollar organization would keep at its fingertips. I believe, furthermore,
that my situation is far from unique. What might help small businesses
like mine would be to pinpoint -- and promote -- one federal organization
that acts as a "sherpa guide" for all things entrepreneurial. Both the
federal and state government have many programs that help startups like
mine -- groups that provide everything from tax advice to cash investments.
Making sure every entrepreneur has that single point of contact in order
to navigate all aspects of government would be a massive help.
When it comes to policy matters, small businesses have tended to get lost in
the shuffle because we don't necessarily have the time or resources to lobby
for our individual needs. However, each of our efforts combines to create a
massive engine that drives the U.S. economy.
The Economy. Even with
the recent downturn, the U.S. economy is stronger than it ever was, even
at the height of the go-go '80s. Today, we are moving back to an economy
where it takes a lot of hard work and tough decisions, such as laying
off personnel, in order to build good companies or maintain strong investment
portfolios. This can only create a healthier economy in the long run.
The Bush Team. Overall,
I believe that Bush has chosen a strong team. What always fascinates me
is how that team is managed. President Reagan, for example, had people
create one-page summaries of issues, with the idea that if you can't condense
an idea to a single page then you don't understand it. When the Cuban
Missile Crisis hit, President Kennedy's Administration created a "swat
team" of experts to brainstorm different scenarios. I employ both of these
tactics in my business today, and look forward to finding out what Bush
will enact tomorrow.
Owner of American Technical Services Inc., Brookfield, Wis., and U.S.
Tech Force, Fond du Lac, Wis., skilled-trades employment services
Tax policy. Bush should continue
to press his agenda. Certainly, as part of that, a tax cut will stimulate
the economy. Bush should focus on sound government spending policy, reining
in new social programs that never die, and on a solid trade policy that
has a positive effect on U.S. companies in foreign markets.
When the shackles of high taxation on business are shed and consumers are
spending, businesses will be there to answer the bell. It's all a risk/reward
calculation: Why should I take on more risk and put more people to work
when the government does nothing but take it away through taxation and onerous
government regulation? I would be better off in the long run to put my money
in a growth mutual fund and watch it grow at 12% a year over 20 years. Give
me a reason to take more risk (a tax cut, less regulation), and I will be
right in there creating more jobs.
The Bush team. I am very
impressed with all his appointments so far. He appears to have chosen an
A Team instead of just putting his friends and political allies in place.
We will see good things from this Cabinet and this Administration.
President, Poppen & Associates, CPA firm, St. Louis
Social Security. The current
"pay as you go" Social Security system is the largest threat to our economy.
The current rate of return on Social Security contributions is incredibly
low, and the upcoming demands on the system place an unfair burden on our
children and grandchildren. I would urge the new Administration to allow
workers to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in private accounts,
and allow those contributions to vest to the participant. Vesting would
particularly benefit low-income workers who currently have no other way
to accumulate wealth.
Health Insurance. Small businesses
are currently at a real disadvantage when purchasing health insurance. What
we really need is the ability to form association health plans, so small
businesses can join together through industry associations to receive the
same benefits and prices as unions and large corporations. The lack of health-insurance
coverage is a national disgrace. Congress can do something about this that
would really make a difference.
The Economy. The slide in
the stock market seems to be bringing about a more realistic approach to
businesses, a focus on earnings and good business principles on the part
of investors and CEOs. A strong economy is the result of good fiscal policies.
Like most women business owners, I am a fiscal conservative, but more liberal
on social issues. I know that with good fiscal policies, businesses will
prosper. And in a good economy, social objectives can also be achieved.
President, PROVISTA Software International Inc., e-business consulting,
Wish List. We'd like to see
the tax cut pass, to have minimal (no) government intervention in the Internet
economy, to see a lot of the regulation and red tape eliminated, to see
an increase in quotas for immigrants. Hopefully, the Bush Administration
will be sensitive to the issues facing small businesses and realistic about
the ability of a small business to deal with the burden of government bureaucracy.
Economic Policy. As a small-business
owner, my chief concern is the strength of the economy. I would like to
see further monetary easing to stimulate capital investment. A tax cut to
stimulate consumer spending might put $25 in each of our pockets -- a very
small blip on the radar screen -- but stimulating capital investment creates
The Bush Team. For politicians,
they are not too bad. We do like the diversity -- gender, ethnic, and political.
CEO, Cognet Corp., software development and management, Valhalla, N.Y.
Tax Cuts. I'm pretty conservative
fiscally. I'd prefer to see us pay down the deficit for two reasons. First,
lower government borrowing will free up funds for the capital markets, fueling
growth. Second, I'd prefer not to saddle my children with a big tax burden.
I don't want them to pay for our generation's excesses.
The Economy. I've no doubt
that we are experiencing slower economic growth. However, I am also seeing
signs that growth will continue, albeit at a slower pace. The fact that
unemployment is rising, while painful for those who've lost their jobs,
will take some of the pressure off the inflation in business expenses and
make room for Fed rate cuts. This will give markets a bit of confidence,
and fuel some investment. While I'm very liberal socially, I'm pretty conservative
fiscally. I think government's record in guiding the economy is pretty bad,
so a deadlocked Congress and a President with limited legislative power
sounds awful -- but might not be. A government that has to work very hard
to advance its legislative agenda is a good thing because only the best
programs (ones that have strong bipartisan support) will actually become
law. The fewer changes, the better. It keeps the playing field level and
doesn't create impediments to business.
President, PowerUP! Internet technology training, San Jose, Calif.
Wish List. Small businesses
would like electricity deregulation, association health plans, equal access
to capital, patent reform, income tax reform, repeal of the death tax. We
need an SBA administrator who is an advocate for small, women-owned, minority-owned
businesses. At this point, I have not seen any indication that this new
Administration or Congress will be more favorable to small-business concerns
than the Clinton Administration was.
The Bush Team. I have concern
regarding attorney-general nominee John Ashcroft because he is anti-small
business, anti-minorities, and anti-women, and the attorney general dictates
what goes to the Supreme Court.
Co-founder, GrassRoots Impact Inc., political consulting and conference
planning, Oklahoma City, Okla.
Wish List. Small-business
owners want 100% deductibility for health-insurance premiums. We also want
to see association health plans become law, where a bona fide association
could insure all members and employees as a group, for probably a 20% reduction
in premiums. We also want to see the so-called death tax eliminated. My
chief concerns as a small-business owner are taxes, health care, and finding
Economic Policy. We need
an across-the-board tax-rate reduction, and interest rates must remain low.
I am cautiously optimistic about the economy in 2001.
Theresa Forsman in New York