Small Businesses Share Priorities for Biden Administration and Congress Ahead of State of the Union
Statement by John Arensmeyer, Founder & CEO of Small Business Majority, on President Biden’s State of the Union address and new polling highlighting small businesses’ top priorities for policymakers
“The president’s State of the Union (SOTU) address is an opportunity for this administration to highlight efforts to sustain long-term recovery for the small business community. Since small businesses are the engines of our nation’s economy, the record-level growth in small business creation and applications is particularly exciting. We hope that President Biden will amplify this momentum and utilize today’s SOTU to address additional resources small businesses need to sustain a robust business ecosystem that could promote a thriving economy.
Through targeted measures included in laws such as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), small businesses have remained optimistic about their business prospects despite ongoing challenges. However, our new poll, released today, indicates that small businesses would like Congress and the administration to understand their ongoing needs better. The poll shows that smaller firms would like policymakers to prioritize the issues that impact them the most, such as healthcare, workforce shortages, childcare, paid family and medical leave and leveling the playing field.
While the IRA extended critical premium subsidies through 2025 that will enhance access to affordable healthcare coverage, our poll reveals that more is needed. Indeed, 71% of small business owners ranked bringing down the cost of healthcare as a top priority for policymakers. Additionally, 51% ranked restoring access to reproductive rights as a top concern–a policy critical to ensuring women entrepreneurs can start and grow a business–as a top priority.
We applaud this administration for historically supporting opportunities that would allow small businesses to thrive, but tonight’s address should also acknowledge that small business owners continue to face challenges when growing their businesses. Our March 2022 poll revealed that our nation’s entrepreneurs are being harmed by myriad anti-competitive practices, with 56% reporting that one or more large companies dominate the market in their industry. Tackling monopolies, enforcing antitrust legislation, and stopping predatory pricing will be necessary to create space where small employers and entrepreneurs can compete fairly in a changing global marketplace. Polling conducted late last year also found that although small business owners are working to grow their labor, they feel challenged when seeking quality candidates. Our newest poll confirms that small businesses continue to face unique challenges when trying to retain and recruit a strong workforce. They need Congress to support policies that would expand the workforce pool via Clean Slate laws and comprehensive immigration reform.
We hope the aforementioned and the following areas will be addressed in the president’s speech and re-enforced throughout the year:
Support the ability to offer essential benefits such as healthcare, paid family and medical leave, and childcare through the following proposals.
Expand access to affordable coverage by allowing people to buy into Medicaid and Medicare regardless of location.
Establish a national program that would provide partial wage replacement for small business employees and the self-employed to access parental or medical leave. Our research shows that more than 4 in 10 small businesses say passing a federal paid family and medical leave program should be a top priority for policymakers.
Expand and improve federal income tax credits for childcare expenses, allowing working parents to receive a percentage of childcare expenses back as a tax refund. Our previous research found that more than one-third of small business owners with children reported that a lack of access to affordable, high-quality childcare was a barrier to starting their business.
Increase access to responsible capital and support policies that create equitable access to capital for diverse entrepreneurs.
Capital is vital to starting, growing, and sustaining a business–especially for those smaller firms owned by people of color, women, rural business owners, and other under-resourced communities locked out of traditional banking systems. The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) is an example of a federal program that can support small and very small businesses and has focused on serving economically and socially disadvantaged small businesses.
Congress and the administration should support additional investment programs, particularly those that would provide patient and flexible products directed to diverse entrepreneurs.
To ensure America’s job creators have the resources they need to thrive, we urge the president and Congress to move affirmatively on critical benefits that include: affordable and quality healthcare, childcare, and universal paid family and medical leave; equitable access to capital; restoring reproductive rights; and level the playing field so that small businesses can compete with large companies on technology platforms. We will continue to seek and share the small business perspective with policymakers and help to ensure that Congress keeps small business priorities at the forefront.”
About Small Business Majority
Small Business Majority is a national small business organization that empowers America's diverse entrepreneurs to build a thriving and equitable economy. We engage our network of more than 85,000 small businesses and 1,500 business and community organizations to deliver resources to entrepreneurs and advocate for public policy solutions that promote inclusive small business growth. Our work is bolstered by extensive research and deep connections with the small business community that enable us to educate stakeholders about key issues impacting America’s entrepreneurs, with a special focus on the smallest businesses and those facing systemic inequities. Learn more about us on our website and follow us on Twitter, Facebookand Instagram.