President Obama has announced on several occasions his desire to essentially close the Small Business Administration (SBA) by combining it with the Department of Commerce. Anyone who has been in Washington long enough to have lunch knows the Department of Commerce is essentially a division of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. Chamber and I aren’t exactly close friends.
If Mitt Romney wins this election, he will start talking about closing the SBA before Anne gets the new curtains ordered for their White House bedroom. Despite their unending campaign baloney about investing in the middle class and creating jobs, Republicans, since Ronald Reagan, have had it out for the SBA. Reagan tried closing the SBA twice. The corporate bosses want that 23 percent of the federal contracts allotted to small businesses and they want it now.
President George W. Bush tried to starve the agency to death during his administration by cutting the SBA budget and staff by almost 50 percent. The agency was so understaffed during the Hurricane Katrina aftermath that 2,000 temporary employees had to be hired to assist the storm victims in receiving SBA backed loans to rebuild their businesses. He told his SBA appointee, Administrator Hector Baretto, that he wanted the agency closed by the end of his first term. Some mouthy guy in California launched a PR campaign that made that assignment a lot more difficult than Bush and Barreto had ever expected and the SBA was saved. Barrreto was ultimately fired for his failure to fulfill his mission.
Fortune 500 firms and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have lobbied to close the SBA for decades. The Small Business Act mandates that a minimum of 23 percent of the total value of all federal contracts be awarded to small businesses. Why do corporate giants want the SBA closed? It’s really quite simple – GREED. The corporate giants that call the shots in Washington DC want every penny the federal government spends to go straight into their pockets.
The fact that small businesses are responsible for more than 90 percent of all net new jobs in America, 50 percent of the private sector work force, more than 50 of the gross domestic product (GDP) and more than 90 percent of all U.S. exporters doesn’t mean a hill of beans to the most ruthless corporate giants ruling the roost in Washington DC.
Let’s take a quick inventory, the U.S. is in the midst of the worst economic downturn in 80 years, small businesses are responsible for the overwhelming majority of net new jobs, and there is only one miniscule federal agency to service the 27 million small businesses where the majority of Americans work.
The corporate-backed, corrupt politicians see this issue a different way. They don’t want to squander a measly $900 million a year on the only federal agency that services the small business that are responsible for the vast majority of net new jobs. Forget the fact that the SBA’s budget is roughly one tenth of one percent of the budget allotted to the Department of Defense (DoD), which outright loses or misplaces almost 10 times as much money a year as it takes to run the SBA. There is obviously no way we can ever balance the budget and cut the deficit without closing one of the smallest agencies in Washington DC, right?
In all seriousness, the best way to determine if a politician is an outright, lying crook and a conman is to just look for one that proposes to close the SBA under the guise of saving money to balance the budget and cut the deficit.
Any honest elected official in Washington would realize that doubling the SBA staff and budget is the best way out of our economic recession. The SBA budget was higher 30 years ago than it is today. We need to reopen the SBA field offices the Bush administration closed. We need to reinvigorate each and every federal program to help our nation’s chief job creators – small businesses.
Hey, I’ve got a wacky idea, why don’t we stop giving federal small business contracts to some of the biggest companies on earth? Every year, for the past seven years, the SBA Office of Inspector General (SBA OIG) has named the diversion of federal small business contracts to corporate giants as the number one management challenge at the SBA.
I know it sounds crazy to quit giving billions of dollars a month in federal small business contracts to Fortune 500 firms but, who knows, it just might help the 27 million small businesses that are the irrefutable engine of economic growth and job creation in this country.
Creative Commons photo by Bernard Pollack on Flickr.