Super Tuesday: Santorum would ease regulations, provide certainty

March 5, 2012

If we assume, as is often stated, that small businesses are the engine of the U.S. economy, it follows that governmental policies affecting this segment of the economy play an important role in the overall financial well-being of our country.

Let’s take a look then at how a Rick Santorum administration might impact the ability of small businesses to grow and prosper.  Santorum’s platform addresses five key issues — deficit reduction; credit availability and access to capital; health insurance costs; regulatory burdens; and uncertainty.

In a recent survey conducted by the National Small Business Association, 44 percent of respondents ranked reducing the deficit as their No. 1 issue to be addressed by the government, up from 23 percent in December 2010.  Former senator Santorum has committed to cutting $5 trillion of federal spending within five years. 

Access to capital has a direct impact on a business owner’s ability to hire additional employees.  Historically, bank loans have been the primary source of financing for half of all small businesses.  The Santorum platform does not address this issue, perhaps wisely.  Many small businesses lack the assets necessary to secure bank loans, and are often considered to be poor credit risks.  A small percentage of businesses avail themselves of loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration, and this is not expected to increase significantly.

The escalating costs of employee health care are holding down job growth, according to almost 30 percent of respondents in the NSBA survey.  Santorum proposes to repeal Obamacare, replacing it with a market-based health care initiative.  The operative phrase, of course, is “market based,” minimizing government involvement in the health care industry. 

He also proposes to implement Medicare reforms and innovation proposed by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and to speed up their implementation to control health care costs and improve quality.  This issue is at the heart of the health care debate, and of the role of government in this area.

About 40 percent of small-business owners consider regulatory burdens as one of the most significant challenges to the growth and survival of their businesses.  The Santorum platform calls for cutting EPA resources for job-killing regulations, and for eliminating funding for implementation of Dodd-Frank regulatory burdens. 

The greatest challenge to growth and survival, however, is economic uncertainty, according to 66 percent of respondents.  This element is contingent on a host of factors, but at its core is leadership. Could a President Santorum provide the necessary leadership to inspire the country, and indeed the entire world, to get its fiscal house in order?  We can only speculate on this point, since real leadership cannot be measured by sound bites, proposals, promises and personality. 

It comes only in making difficult decisions and inspiring others to follow, confident in positive results.  Leadership is also born of the courage of one’s convictions.  By clearly stating his positions on social issues, some of which are not considered mainstream, and by standing firm and refusing to equivocate on these issues, Santorum has demonstrated an uncommon strength of character shared by great leaders.  His moral compass will not translate into legislated morality, but will serve him well during times of crises.

Only real leadership on the part of our president and our Congress will put our country back on the path to prosperity, with small businesses at the forefront of an economic rebound.

Don Gonneville is the owner and president of Gonneville Inc., a certified service-disabled veteran-owned business enterprise in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., that distributes commercial and industrial products.

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