When a small business is not really a small business

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Tax structures – S-corporations or partnerships or LLCs – get used to claim multi-million, sometimes multi-billion dollar companies are “small businesses.” It’s like carrying a fake ID to get into the bar.
 
Well, here’s a riddle: a hedge fund manager, a high-powered lobbyist, and a big shot lawyer walk into a bar. There’s one real small business owner in the lot. Which one? Answer: the guy who’s pouring the drinks – me.
 
I have two employees at the Silver Dollar Saloon here in Butte. We’re a genuine small business. In fact, 80 percent of businesses in Montana are like mine and have under 10 employees. I’m not benefiting from the Bush tax cuts for take-home income above $250,000. I’m not in that tax bracket and neither are the other small business owners I know.
 
I want the Bush tax cuts at the top to end. It’s the right thing to do for the overall health of the country. And the overall health of the country benefits my business. What my business needs is customers – not more tax cuts for the rich.
 
Now, there’s a big brawl coming in the lame duck session of Congress on this. And it’s not just over the Bush tax cuts. It’s also about bigger issues – the budget, Social Security, corporate taxes.
 
The best way forward for small businesses? Three steps: 1) End the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent (that gets us almost $1 trillion in revenue over 10 years). 2) Protect middle class programs – Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare – that support a healthy customer base for small businesses. 3) Crack down on corporate tax dodging and make the big guys pay their fair share of taxes: if you want to fly the American flag outside your corporate headquarters, then pay your way.
 
Speaking of corporate tax dodging, there’s a clown car full of Wall Street CEOs who are getting into the lobbying act for the lame duck session. They’re leading a slick PR campaign called “Fix the Debt” that’s a thinly veiled effort to cut Social Security and Medicare (programs those CEOs don’t need anyway) in return for tax reforms that benefit multi-national corporations, all in the name of “shared sacrifice.” They’re trying to sound like “very serious people.” They should be laughed out of the house.
 
Why would anyone trust Wall Street – including the CEOs of the very banks that crashed our economy – to fix our budget problems? Imagine their collective resume: “Took down world’s largest economy. Held government hostage for $700 billion bailout, took huge bonuses, avoided jail time. Back to record profits. World-class tax dodgers.” If somebody showed up with that resume at my business, I wouldn’t hire them to balance my books, would you?
 
I can think of one job for them, though: they’d make great bouncers. Imagine the exit lines: “You heard me, pal. Don’t let the fancy suit fool you – I would’ve done hard time if I didn’t have the best lawyers money could buy. Now get out of this bar before me and my buddies shake you down for another $700 billion.”
 
McGregor is the owner of the Silver Dollar Saloon in Butte, Montana. He is a leader in the Montana Small Business Alliance and the national Main Street Alliance business network.