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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dan Danner: Attention candidates -- America trusts small business as key to economic recovery


By Dan Danner
The solution to America’s biggest challenge is small. Small business, that is.

Most Americans know and understand that the only way to put the nation’s economy back on its feet is to put people back to work. But that simple message has gotten muddled in the pandemonium that’s engulfed candidates of both parties in their race for the White House.

And most Americans know and understand that the only way to put people back to work is to trust small-business owners to do what they do best: create jobs. Those who own and operate Main Street’s small firms can only create jobs if the federal government learns to trust small business as most citizens do and stop putting obstacles in the way.

It all comes down to trust. That’s where small-business owners stand tall in the minds and hearts of people across this country. “Americans put the most trust in the ideas and opinions of small-business owners and local business leaders on how best to create jobs,” the Gallup polling organization reported recently.

By a wide margin—79 percent—those who responded to pollsters put small-business owners at the top of their list of leaders whose ideas and opinions they trust to create jobs in the United States. Far down the list at 45 percent were executives of major corporations and below them ranked members of Congress.

Gallup noted that the high level of trust placed in small business is not anything new. When researchers studied Americans’ confidence in national institutions, they found greater reliance in small business than any institution other than the armed forces.

Far on the other side of the scale was big business which earns only low levels of confidence. Even a decade ago, a Gallup poll conducted for American Express determined that CEOs of large corporations were trusted by less than one-fourth of those asked, while people who run small businesses held a 75 percent level of trust.

Yet on the campaign trail, the candidates are allowing themselves to be whipsawed by special-interest groups pushing agendas that have nothing to do with restoring the economy. That’s not to say that many of those issues aren’t important, but none even come close to the urgent challenges of steering the economy away from another recession.

Most Americans know and understand that. A February CBS/New York Times poll revealed that 66 percent responding felt that economic issues were far more important than social issues--22 percent--in making their decisions about which candidate to support.

The solution to America’s biggest challenge is obvious. Those running for president would be well advised to put some of the non-urgent issues on the back burner and instill confidence in voters by assuring them that if elected, they’ll get right to work clearing the government obstacles and helping small business do what it does best—create jobs.

And how can the next president of the United States do that? By listening to the people most Americans trust—small-business owners. They’re eager and ready to suggest real solutions. Trust them.

-- Danner is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 350,000 small-business owners in Washington, D.C. and every state capital.

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