By U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (AL-1)
Did you know that there are an estimated 28 million small businesses in the United States? In Alabama alone, studies estimate there are over 70,000 small businesses. Right in here Southwest Alabama, there are small businesses on every street corner from Chatom to Gulf Shores.
Last week was National Small Business Week, and all across the country small businesses were recognized for their contributions to our nation’s economy. In fact, 99.7 percent of all employers in the United States are small businesses. From our nation’s founding, small businesses have been the backbone of our economy.
In recent years, small businesses have unfortunately faced a number of new challenges. Since 2008, more small businesses have closed than have opened. Just as bad, last year the United States ranked 46th in terms of how easy it is to start a business according to the World Bank. As recently as 2007, the United States ranked 3rd.
So what has changed? The answer most likely lies with the shockingly high number of regulations coming out of federal agencies in Washington. Ask any small business owner, and they will tell you that they are drowning in federal regulations and mandates. In 2013, all new federal regulations added up to $112 billion in net costs.
Since I came to Congress over a year ago, I have made it a priority to visit small businesses firsthand and hear directly from the owners and the employees about how policies in Washington are impacting their business. I’ve been to small businesses in all six counties that make up the First Congressional District.
For example, I’ve visited a scrap metal business in Monroeville that is struggling to comply with burdensome regulations from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). I’ve also met with small medical practices in Baldwin County who are dealing with costly mandates brought on by Obamacare.
In Washington, I’ve tried to use these experiences to advance legislation that will get the government out of the way and empower small businesses to grow. Ultimately, we need to focus on growing the economy on Main Street, not expanding the federal government in Washington.
Earlier this year, I voted for H.R. 527, the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvements Act. This bill would roll back red tape and force agencies to consider the impact regulations will have on small businesses. I also supported H.R. 636, the Small Business Tax Relief Act. This commonsense bill would give small businesses much-needed certainty when it comes to the tax code.
Just as important, I co-sponsored and voted for H.R. 30, the Save American Workers Act. This legislation would restore the 40-hour work week that has been destroyed by Obamacare’s employer mandate. If signed into law, this bill would make it easier for small businesses to hire more workers.
Most recently, we passed a bill to repeal the death tax, which unfairly burdens small businesses and family farms with a costly tax when a loved one passes away. It is shameful that we punish families when someone dies, and they want to leave their business with their loved ones.
Ultimately, I am focused on policies that roll back unnecessary regulations, lower taxes, increase independence, and allow businesses to focus on running their operation instead of complying with federal regulations.
We need to stop putting up barriers and instead increase opportunities for our nation’s small businesses. It’s important that federal bureaucrats in Washington remember that they do not and did not build a single business. It is the American spirit and belief that anyone can achieve their dreams which have made our nation great.
The American economy is strongest when small businesses are flourishing, and it’s time we put people before politics and work together to support our nation’s small businesses.
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District