Small business owners debate candidates' economic plansby Ambar Espinoza, Minnesota Public Radio
GOP presidential candidate John McCain will wrap up a week-long economic tour with a campaign stop in Hudson, Wisconsin on Friday. Both McCain and Democratic candidate Barack Obama are promoting their economic plans this week. Some small business owners in Minnesota say McCain's economic plan will fuel job growth. But others doubt either candidate will help small business much.
St. Paul, Minn. — Paul Burke is on a mission to grow his business. Last year, he and his wife bought Mike's Clean Sweep Services in Centerville, about 20 miles north of St. Paul. They recently hired one more employee. Burke is one of about a dozen small business owners who appeared at a McCain campaign news conference to voice support for the likely GOP nominee.
Burke thinks his business would benefit from McCain's economic policies, which aim to keep a lid on tax rates, energy and health care costs for small businesses. Burke says he took on a lot of risk to hire an extra full-time employee, but it's a risk he was willing to take if it means his business will grow.
"To bring that person on for a small business like ours, which has only 11 employees was a tough decision, as it was. But if it came with an additional $10,000 - $12,000 worth of mandates, which Sen. Obama has already stated he will put in place for hiring employees, the decision would have been easy. It would have been 'no.'"
The McCain campaign says Obama would impose health care requirements that would cost small businesses as much as $12,000 per employee. McCain pledges to give each family a tax credit of $5,000 for health insurance. The campaign says this will help small businesses that want to offer health insurance.
Nick Kimball, the Minnesota spokesperson for the Obama campaign, says the likely democratic nominee would not increase health care costs for small businesses.
"Sen. Obama has laid out his plan to reduce costs by up to $2,500 per family to make health care more affordable and more accessible for every day families and to allow small businesses to provide that health care to their employees."
Kimball says Obama would eliminate all capital gain taxes on start-up and small businesses and also increase the economic stimulus package by an additional $50 billion.
According to Louis Johnston, an economics professor at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University, the candidates take two different approaches to promoting small business. He says the McCain plan focuses on taxes.
"He wants to cut taxes on higher income levels partly because a lot of small businesses, rather than being incorporated, are set up so that their taxes are filed just as individual income taxes. So this would help them out. And on the other hand, the Obama campaign is emphasizing things like health care costs by reforming the health care system."
Even some Obama supporters like Joe Hofmeister aren't convinced either candidate will change much. Hofmeister is started a medical device company, but says it's on hold now. He couldn't find investors and he blames the tough economy. Hofmeister likes what Obama represents but he doesn't think either of them has a silver bullet for small business.
"McCain is going to smell and feel a little bit more like a continuation of Bush, and that won't be good [after] how it's been done for the last couple of years. And if Obama feels more like a new approach, handling some problems a little bit better, then maybe the general demeanor will be a general uptick in optimism. Fundamentally, I think they are both kind of smart centrists. So to be honest, I don't think either one of them is the answer that's going to hurt or help my business greatly."
Obama talks about his economic plan in Georgia and Washington D.C. Tuesday.
- Morning Edition, 07/08/2008, 7:40 a.m.