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Small business owners have big in role midterm elections

As you read this today, I trust you’ve already voted or will be heading to the polls before they close tonight. For marine dealers - all small business owners - these elections have unusually big significance.

Arguably, more than any other group, the country’s 25 million small businesses are the symbol of the economic problems we’re facing. Indeed, while the giant corporations have generally survived with good earnings and large amounts of cash, small business marine dealers know only too well the opposite. During this midterm election, small businesses have become the darling of many politicians who claim they have plans to help small businesses. Perhaps! But it’s important in your area to separate any who are just looking for votes from those who are genuine about their small business support.

Interestingly, today’s election has attracted an unusually large number of small business owners, not just to cast their ballots but to be on them! The good news -- a lot of them are expected to win and head for Congress next January. No question, the more members of Congress who have signed the front of a paycheck or struggled to pay for benefits for their employees, the better. It will mean an improved congressional perspective on what it really means for government to help and protect small firms.

So says Dan Danner, president of the National Federation of Independent Business, the nation’s leading small-business advocacy group. Danner expects there will be more people in Congress in 2011 who know, first hand, that spending more money than you take in is a really foolish idea – something no successful business owner has ever done for very long. According to Danner, some 30 NFIB members are running for Congress and are expected to win today.

There’s little doubt we in the boating industry need more people in Congress who understand that small businesses like ours can only grow when not burdened with higher taxes, excessive regulations and a climate of uncertainty that leaves consumers fearful about making major purchases.

Looking forward, then, small business has shaped many of the midterm races being decided today. And we will need every pro-small business lawmaker we can get in the next session of Congress because our industry will face a wide variety of challenges ranging from health care costs and higher taxes to fishing restrictions and ocean zoning, to note just a few. Moreover, the probability for ominous regulations from IRS, EPA, NOAA and who-knows-who-else is very real.

The legislative staffs for our national associations (NMMA and MRAA) will have a full plate beginning next January -- not to mention the prospects for a mind-bending lame duck session in the weeks ahead before this 111th Congress finally leaves town and the 112th moves in.

If there is a genuine small business owner running in your district and you haven’t yet voted for him or her, you’ve still got time. We’re going to need all we can get.

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