If you’re a small business owner like I am, much of what you do is affected by policies that come out of Washington. Of course, there are plenty of powerful people and organizations that aren’t located in D.C. And there are some who have more of an effect on certain industries than others. But for most small business owners like me, you’re going to be affected by the following people who live and work in the nation’s capital.
David Bobbitt, president of the SCORE Foundation and vice president of development at the SCORE Association. SCORE uses mostly former executives to provide no-charge mentoring and education to more than 350,000 small business owners each year. This organization is very popular with small business owners, particularly start-ups and those with little capital who need outside consulting. Bobbitt’s job is to keep it financed.
Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Brady has served Texas’s 8th congressional district since 1997 and has only recently taken over this powerful post from Paul Ryan. The Committee on Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee in the House of Representatives. Small businesses like mine who have suffered under increased taxes over the past few years are eager to see reform in the system – lower rates, permanent deductions and credits for depreciation and research and development, the closing of loopholes – and Brady will likely be in the middle of these discussions.
Steve Chabot, chairman of the U.S. House Small Business Committee. This committee provides oversight and holds hearings on subjects such as access to capital, healthcare, taxes, regulatory reform, workplace issues and government contracting. The committee meets frequently with small business owners and policy makers to raise awareness and support House bills that impact the small business community. Chabot has been the committee’s ranking member since 2007 and one of Congress’ leading advocates against wasteful government spending. Nonpartisan taxpayer advocacy groups such as Citizens Against Government Waste, the Concord Coalition and the National Taxpayers Union rated him as one of the most pro-taxpayer members of Congress.
Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the Small Business Administration. Each year, the SBA delivers millions of loans, loan guarantees, contracts, counseling sessions and other forms of assistance to small businesses, including many of my clients who rely on SBA backed finance to help grow their companies. Contreras-Sweet has significant experience in both the public and private sector, most recently as the founder of a community bank in Los Angeles.
Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. Chamber represents the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors and regions as their voice in Washington. The organization is a lobbying group that works to craft pro-business legislation and block excessive taxes and regulations, all issues near and dear to my heart. Donahue has run this organization since 1997 and was previously the president and CEO of the American Trucking Association.
Stephen M. Graham, co-chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies. This committee, whose charter was recently renewed for another two years, focuses on the interests and priorities of small businesses and smaller public companies and plays an integral role in advising the SEC on the most important issues that affect them such as capital raising through private placements and public securities offerings, trading in the securities of small and emerging and small publicly traded companies and the public reporting requirements of such companies. Graham is an attorney with the firm of Fenwick & West.
Richard F. Griffin F Jr., general counsel at the National Labor Relations Board. The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects the rights of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve their wages and working conditions. Just this year the NLRB has been involved in many decisions that impact small employers – from the ability of unions to organize faster to rules concerning independent contractors the “gig” economy. As general counsel, Griffin was appointed by President Obama and is independently responsible for the investigation and prosecution of unfair labor practice cases and for the general supervision of the NLRB field offices in the processing of cases. Griffin has spent many years working on behalf of labor unions including the International Union of Operating Engineers and the AFL-CIO.
Orrin G. Hatch, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance. The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance concerns itself with matters relating to taxation and other revenue measures generally and also tackles issues regarding U.S. debt, social security, health programs, customs – all which affect business owners nationwide. Hatch, who is 81 years old and is the most senior Republican in the Senate, is likely to be intimately involved in any future tax reform or deficit reduction plan, a key concern among most in the business community.
Christine M. Jacobs, co-chair of the SEC’s Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies. Jacobs is a member of the board of directors of McKesson Corp., a healthcare products and services provider and was formerly the chairman, CEO and president of Theragenics, a publicly-held medical device company.
John Koskinen, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. As Commissioner, Koskinen presides over the nation’s tax system, which collects approximately $3.1 trillion in tax revenue each year and manages an agency of about 90,000 employees and a budget of approximately $10.9 billion. In his role leading the IRS, Mr. Koskinen is working to ensure that the agency maintains an appropriate balance between taxpayer service and tax enforcement and administers the tax code with fairness and integrity. Like all small business owners I hate taxes and fear the IRS…but Koskinen was once the president of the U.S. Soccer Foundation so I think I like him.
Mitch McConnell, Senate majority leader. Any bill that hits the Senate floor comes through this powerful and long serving Republican. Last November he was overwhelmingly elected to a record sixth term in his home state of Kentucky.
Tameka Montgomery, associate administrator of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Montgomery oversees entrepreneurial program development and implementation within SBA’s Office of Small Business Development Centers, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, and the Office of Entrepreneurship Education – all organizations that are used by my clients and millions of other small business owners across the country.
Barack Obama, president of the United States. This is a lame duck year for the outgoing president, but expect him to use that time and the power of the office to further those causes that are important to him. And many of those causes – workers rights, immigration, overtime, minimum wage, international trade – impact our businesses and will certainly spur much debate among the presidential candidates.
Thomas Perez, secretary of labor. Perez’s priorities for his department include ensuring a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work; connecting ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs, promoting gender equality in the workplace, ensuring that people with disabilities and veterans have access to equal employment opportunity and insisting on a safe and level playing field for all American workers. Previously Perez served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Justice and has spent his entire career in public service. Perez is supportive of an increased national minimum wage, higher overtime pay and paid time off legislation – all issues that affect small businesses.
Paul Ryan, speaker of the House of Representatives. As the newly elected speaker, Ryan will lead Republican legislation in the House of Representatives. He is known as a fiscal hawk, a support of lower taxes and broad reform and deficit reduction. Ryan has significant budgetary experience as the former chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and most recently ran for vice president in 2012.
Arne M. Sorenson, president and chief executive of Marriott International. Based in Bethesda Md., Marriott is a $14 billion company with more than 4,200 properties in 79 countries and territories. Oh, forgot to mention that I’m a Marriott Rewards Member. So now can I get an upgrade?
David Vitter, hairman of the U.S Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Like its counterpart in the House, the Senate committee is also involved in the oversight and awareness creation for all issues that affect small businesses around the country. Vitter, a lawyer and Rhodes Scholar started as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives in 1992 and was elected to the Senate in 2004. After losing a run for Louisiana’s governor this year, Vitter has said he will not seek Senate re-election after 2016. It will be important for small business owners to watch who takes his place on this committee.
Mary Jo White, chairman, Securities & Exchange Commission. White, a former federal prosecutor and securities lawyer, was sworn in as chairman in 2013. She has been significantly involved in the recent approval of crowdfunding rules under the 2012 JOBS Act and small business owners should look to her continuing influence over this new (and potentially significant) form of capital generation as it evolves over the next few years.
Kenneth Yancey Jr., CEO of the Score Association. Yancey has held this position since 1993 and sits on the board of the SCORE Association (see David Bobbitt above)
Gene Marks authors Main Street Morning, a daily round-up of small business news for The Washington Post. He owns the Marks Group, a Bala Cynwyd Pa. consulting firm that helps clients with customer relationship management. Follow Gene Marks and On Small Business on Twitter.