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Happy anniversary, Bush tax cuts!

According to the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, only three percent of taxpayers reporting business income of any kind earn enough to benefit from the high-end Bush tax cuts.

Most of these wealthy taxpayers aren’t even what you would think of as true small business owners. That three percent figure includes hedge fund managers, the partners in six of the country’s top ten lobbying firms, and even President Obama (for his book royalties), all of whom report “business income” on their personal income tax returns.

If the true intent is to help your local Mom and Pop small businesses, the call to renew Bush’s tax cuts for wealthy taxpayers is seriously misguided. If, on the other hand, the goal is to help Mom and Pop hedge fund managers, then making the tax cuts permanent makes sense after all.

But wait, some will argue, won’t these wealthy individuals stimulate the economy as their wealth “trickles down”? Unfortunately, whether you call it Reaganomics or Ryanomics, we’ve tried that experiment before. In case you missed it: it didn’t work. The result is what I call “trickle on” economics, and small business owners aren’t the ones doing the trickling.

When the Congressional Budget Office analyzed 11 different policy options to stimulate the economy, extending the Bush tax cuts came in… dead last. Even conservative economists like Alan Greenspan have called for the tax cuts to expire because of the negative impact their renewal would have on the budget deficit. Can someone remind me again how these cuts are supposed to be good for small business owners like me?

So, on this 10th anniversary of the Bush tax cuts, I’ve decided to take things into my own hands, and to stand up to those who want to steal my good name – the name of small business – to push a special interest agenda that benefits the richest Americans at my expense. I’m declaring a small business identity theft alert.

Given today’s anniversary, the threat level is clearly high. Lobbyists and their paid-for politicians and “experts” will be saying they speak for small business. We will be hearing a lot of ridiculous rhetoric about how small business in this country needs the Bush tax cuts. 

Small business owners are advised to be vigilant. Don’t give out sensitive information, like your business name or address, not even to people posing as “customers.” And don’t respond to email solicitations from foreign princes or stranded friends – it could be a corporate CEO or lobbyist in disguise.

In all seriousness, the stakes here could not be higher. The Bush tax cuts have already cost our country trillions of dollars. If we let this identity theft continue to go unchallenged, it’s going to cost us trillions more before we can set the record straight and clear our good name.

Rick Poore is the president of DesignWear, Inc. in Lincoln, Nebraska and leader in the Main Street Alliance network.


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