CHAPTER 1

Motherhood, Apple Pie, and Political Theatre

How We Are Failing Our Small Businesses

If we’ve learned anything from our near economic collapse and its aftermath, it’s that small business is right up there with motherhood and apple pie in the pantheon of American ideals. Just ask any politician, from either side of the divide.

President Obama preached the gospel of small business as he crisscrossed the country in 2010 pushing his $30 billion small business stimulus package. A typical venue was the Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, New Jersey—a town, the president noted, that was “named after somebody who was not only one of history’s greatest inventors but also a pretty savvy small business owner.” Addressing a crowd that included local business owners, he intoned: “Helping small businesses, cutting taxes, making credit available. This is as American as apple pie. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They are central to our identity as a nation. They are going to lead this recovery.”1

Just two months later, ahead of the midterm elections, a dozen House Republicans took to Tart Hardware (“Everything to Build Anything”) in a suburban Virginia industrial park to unveil their “Pledge to America,” a 45-page glossy pamphlet brimming with lofty promises to cut taxes and regulation that read like a Big Business wish list. “We are here to listen to the small-business people who are facing the same kind of uncertainty that small-business people all over the country are dealing ...

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