02-19-2017  10:56 am      •     

A good friend and fellow businessman once told me, "Give me more customers and I'll be forced to buy equipment and hire people to meet demand. Give me a tax break without more customers and I'll just go to Aruba."

Ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest taxpayers is the right thing to do for small businesses. I'll say that again: it's the right move for small business. Let me explain.
I consider myself an example of an average small business owner in Nebraska. I have 30 employees. My business does $2 million plus in annual sales. My personal income as the owner is less than $85,000 a year.
It's a comfortable living, but ending the Bush-era cuts on the top two brackets won't come close to impacting me. And it won't impact the other small business owners I know, either. The top brackets won't kick in until your taxable income is over $200,000/year for individuals and $250,000/year for couples, and they'll only apply to the portion of your income above those amounts, not below them. Less than 3 percent of taxpayers reporting any business income (not limited to small business income) earn enough to break into the top two brackets.
But that's not all. That 3 percent figure includes Wall Street hedge fund managers and K Street lobbyists whose income is reported as business income on their personal tax returns. Not exactly what you'd think of as small businesses, or our nation's job creators.
Last time I checked, Wall Street types and their K Street friends had driven the economy into a ditch the size of the Grand Canyon and killed over 8 million jobs. Do they really deserve another tax giveaway to reward their efforts?
The idea that ending the Bush cuts for the top brackets will hamper small businesses' ability to reinvest is a complete red herring. Any true small business that ends up with more than $250,000 net profit flowing through to the owner at the end of the year needs to hire a better accountant and rethink its business plan.
Let's use me as an example. I gross a lot in sales, sure, but I'm busy reinvesting that money back into my business – buying equipment, promoting my business and hiring more workers. The dollars I reinvest don't pass through onto my personal tax return so I don't care if that rate changes a little bit, and neither do the millions of other true small business owners in this country.
Despite all this, some politicians continue to recycle the tired old myth that a small change in the top brackets will hurt business owners' ability to reinvest in our businesses. There are two possible explanations for this.
First, these politicians have never been close enough to a small business to learn how our taxes actually work. We'll call that an accidental sin of ignorance. A simple cure is to get out and meet some small business owners in their home states and hear about our day-to-day operations.
Second, some politicians are playing fast and loose with the facts. They know better, but they just don't care. That's intellectual dishonesty – a different kind of sin. Not much I can do to help there.
The bottom line is small businesses don't need another tax giveaway. What we need are policies that restore our customer base by getting people back to work in our communities and putting money in their pockets to spend in our businesses.
Ending the high-end tax cuts would free up close to $40 billion in 2011 and $700 billion over the next 10 years to invest in job creation and rebuild our customer base. That's what small businesses really need.

Rick Poore is owner of Design Wear, Inc., a custom screen-printing business with 30 employees in Lincoln, Neb. He serves on the steering committee of the Nebraska Main Street Alliance.


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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. 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Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. 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