Small businesses on the payroll tax cut

Kai Ryssdal Dec 20, 2011

Kai Ryssdal: After teasing us yesterday, Republicans in the House made good on their threats over the payroll tax cut today. They voted down the Senate’s two-month extension of the tax break and of unemployment benefits.

We were trying to figure out a way to cover this story that wasn’t just who did what to whom, so here’s what we did. We called some small business owners and played ’em this piece of tape. Speaker of the House John Boehner yesterday, laying out what’s been the Republicans’ stated reason for voting no.

John Boehner: A two-month extension creates uncertainty and will cause problems for people who are trying to create jobs in the private sector.

And then we asked business owners whether that was true.

My name is Tim Reynolds, I own Tribute Inc.; we’re a software development firm in Hudson, Ohio. I think it’s an example of the uncertainty that Congress in general, and for that matter, the administration has created over the last several years. I think that he’s right that a two-month extension is essentially meaningless, both to employees and to employers. I don’t know what the answers are. And I’m not particularly partisan; I think the political finger-pointing is very childish. I’d like to knock heads, you know, and say OK, sit in a room and figure it out.

My name is Viki Honeyman, I own a gallery gift shop in Ann Arbor, Mich., called Heavenly Metal. I actually am the main employee; I do everything, and then I have a handful of part-time people. All of the uncertainty in Washington is hard for small businesses because we’re at the bottom of the feeding pool. And all of these decisions, especially what affects us tax-wise, what allows us to either hire or lay off people or invest more money into our businesses, is so much determined by how Congress and the Senate votes. So it’s frightening, absolutely.

My name is Peter Rossing, I own Muse Art and Design in Portland, Ore. We are a small art supply store; we have, in addition to myself, three employees. It’s really not — in my case, as a small business owner, I stick to my plans on what I need to do to serve my customers and keep my employees going sort of regardless of immediate uncertainty or changes.

Back to Viki Honeyman in Ann Arbor, Mich., for a minute. Forget tax policy, she told me. What she really needs, Congress can’t give.

Honeyman: Well, we need it to snow. Seriously. Tomorrow’s supposed to be close to 50, and in order to get people out really in the Christmas mood, we need winter weather.

Peter Rossing and Viki Honeyman are part of the Public Insight Network. If you are a business owner, share your story with the Public Insight Network here.

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