Mitt Romney has a rather straight-forward message for small business owners.
“I love you guys.”
The Republican presidential challenger earlier this week mapped out his plans to improve the outlook for the nation’s smallest companies, promising to lower taxes, block health care reform and weed out cumbersome federal regulations if elected president. Moreover, Romney vowed to remain “all ears” to the ever-changing needs of business owners and actively seek their advice on how to strengthen the economy.
“What makes America’s economy go is individuals with dreams who take risks, borrow money from their family, max out their credit cards, maybe get an outside investor,” he said during a teleconference hosted by the National Federation of Independent Business on Wednesday. “People starting businesses and taking those risks create the jobs that put America to work.”
But Romney says those risks have become far too great in recent years because of what he described as the “anti-business, anti-investment and anti-job” policies of the current administration. The governor took particular exception with the president’s stimulus package, energy and trade policies and health care reform initiatives, the latter of which he says have forced entrepreneurs across the country to table their hiring and growth plans.
“Obamacare has frightened more businesses from hiring people than any piece of legislation I can recall,” he said, speaking via phone from San Antonio.
More than anything, though, Romney says he hears complaints from small business owners about the “intrusiveness of federal regulators,” who he said occasionally operate as though their purpose is to prevent businesses from being successful. He called out the Environmental Protection Agency in particular for “meddling into business” and getting “a little big for its britches.”
Should he win in November, Romney said he would begin by issuing an executive order freezing all regulations approved under but not yet implemented by President Obama. His administration would then review each one individually, taking “a weedwacker” to the ones they deem detrimental to the business climate.
The governor also said he would do everything in his power to block the president’s health care reform measures, starting with a waiver issued to all states allowing them to sidestep the mandate, as well as try to reduce the top individual tax rate from 35 percent to 28 percent by eliminating many exemptions and deductions.
“You’ll be able to keep more of your capital and hire more people,” Romney said, noting that the president has backed measures that would raise the top rate. “My priority is jobs, getting people back to work, having such competition for employees that wages go up again.”
President Obama has touted his own small business agenda in recent weeks, instead urging Congress to approve legislation giving a 10 percent income tax credit to companies that create new jobs or increase wages this year. He has also asked lawmakers to extend a provision that would allow firms to deduct the full value of their business investments through 2012.
“What that does is give them an incentive as they’re expanding to say, ‘Maybe we hire an extra two people, maybe we hire an extra three people,’” Obama said at a roundtable discussion last month in Washington. “They will have additional resources to continue to grow and continue to expand.”
The president and his administration have also hammered Romney’s business background, arguing that he sat back and profited off of the failures or other working Americans and raked in millions without hiring any workers.
The Republican challenger fired back on Wednesday.
“The president’s spokesman said, ‘Mitt Romney was in business, but he was trying to earn a profit, not just trying to hire people,’” Romney said. “Well, I have to tell you, that’s sort of what business is about. The free enterprise system is about people taking a risk to earn a return to earn a profit, and if they do, they are able to hire more people. Profits and people go together when you’re talking about creating new jobs.”
Romney wrapped up the call by saying that his proposed changes would, perhaps most importantly, create a more predictable business environment in the United States, the absence of which he says has stopped business owners from investing back in their firms and pursuing expansion opportunities in the last few years.
“I’m anxious to make America once again the most attractive place in the world for small business, for business, for investment and for job creators,” he said.