Small businesses beg Washington: End partisan gridlock

The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Small business owners have been decidedly upbeat since the election of President Donald Trump, and now they're looking for the White House and Congress to get to work.

A new survey finds the number one policy issue for Main Street is ending partisan gridlock in Washington.

The National Small Business Association released its 2016 Year-End Economic Report on Friday outlining the small business agenda for the year to come. Finding a way for the two branches to work together in the nation's capital tops the list.

Simplifying the tax code and reining in the costs of health care are the second and third priorities, respectively.

"Partisan gridlock is something our members want them to work on today, and it was the same two and three years ago as well," said Molly Day, vice president of public affairs for the association. "It's about the whole system not working the way it should."

Nearly 80 percent of small firms say they are growing or are anticipating growth in the next year.

The outlook in the survey of more than 1,400 companies has steadily improved in the past six months. The percentage of small businesses anticipating economic expansion in the next year increased from 29 percent six months ago to 54 percent today.

In addition, hiring projections increased 10 percentage points.

Nearly 80 percent of small firms say they are growing or are anticipating growth in the next year. Current economic conditions and the market rally are likely helping to boost positivity on Main Street, Day said.

"The economy has been on a slow upward pace over the past few years, the stock market is rallying and the administration is focused on regulatory reform and restraint — people think things may be better soon in terms of running their business," Day said.

What's more, the association found that 80 percent of those surveyed feel confident about the future of their business, which is the highest this indicator has been in nine years.

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The index mirrors monthly reads on sentiment from the National Federation of Independent Business, a conservative lobbying group, which have been climbing steadily since the election. This month's index reached its highest level of optimism since December 2004, largely due to an improved outlook for conditions and hiring.

According to the federation, small business owners are excited for the new administration to roll back federal regulations, reform the tax code and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

But will these optimistic business owners actually begin creating jobs? It depends on when campaign promises turn into action, and on what new regulatory fixes and proposals might look like.

"A lot of this depends on what happens in Congress," Day said. "We are probably looking at the later half of the year [in terms of job growth] especially with health-care reform, we really have no idea what the 'replace' piece of 'repeal and replace' will be — that is a big part of hiring when you look at costs."

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