When politicians pass laws and regulators make rules aimed at punishing corporations, the big companies usually aren’t the ones that really feel the pain. The real victims are small businesses — often with no more than 50 employees — who don’t have armies of lobbyists to create special loopholes or well-staffed compliance departments to prepare the new paperwork.
Fortunately, the House Small Business Committee, a permanent standing committee in the House of Representatives, is fighting for these small business owners to ensure that they are not forgotten in the back-and-forth of policymaking.
“Small businesses are absolutely critical to the American economy,” Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, told Opportunity Lives.
“There are 28 million small businesses all over the country,” Chabot said, “and it’s the Small Business Committee’s responsibility here in the House of Representatives to do everything possible to assist them with policies that help them to be successful.”
According to Chabot, 70 percent of all U.S. jobs are created by small businesses. And yet those businesses bear most of the regulatory cost burdens. A new study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found that federal regulations alone cost the American economy almost $2 trillion, and the costs to businesses with 50 employees or fewer are almost 20 percent higher than the average.
“The mother of all regulations was Obamacare,” Chabot said. “Obamacare in particular is one that [small business owners] have found it hard to obtain insurance for their employees. The costs are going up and they’re getting less for it.”
In addition, Dodd-Frank, the massive financial reform legislation passed in the wake of the recession, has also had a dramatic effect. “[Dodd-Frank] was supposed to affect the so-called ‘too-big-to-fail’ banks, but instead it affected the credit unions and community banks — the little guys,” said Chabot, vowing to work toward repeal or significant reform.
One of the most notable victories for the House Small Business Committee happened within the first few weeks of the new Congress, when the House passed the Regulatory Accountability Act. The measure requires all federal agencies to review the impact of new regulations on small businesses to avoid some of the unintended consequences. The bill could soon pass the Senate and will likely have a warm reception in the White House.
Small businesses are also increasingly becoming a target for cyber attacks, as they typically are not prepared to fight off hackers. The effects can be devastating — after a cyber attack, up to 60 percent of small and medium-sized businesses go out of business within six months, according to research by the National Cyber Security Alliance.
The Small Business Committee recently held a hearing on this issue and is now pursuing additional action to provide more knowledge, technology, training, and support to small businesses so that they are better protected against cyber attacks that could compromise their businesses or customers’ information.
Chabot is also optimistic about bigger opportunities in the future — even suggesting that Congress could finally tackle a reform of the massive, complicated web that is the U.S. tax code. Rather than just passing a few cuts or adjustments, Chabot thinks there is a real chance at “overall reform” that could have a lasting benefit for the country.
The next few years may be unpredictable in many ways, but at least small businesses have hope that they could finally be heard in Washington.
“I think we’ve finally got a Congress that can get its act together and work with President Trump and implement policies that will actually allow this economy to grow, create more jobs, and allow people to keep more of their own money,” Chabot said.