Give small business a break

Everyone agrees small businesses need tax relief, so what’s the hold up?

Editorial board

Late last week, the U.S. Senate passed the much-needed Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. This in itself is no surprise, given that small businesses are the quintessential little guy everyone on both sides of the aisle loves to defend — especially during election season. What is surprising is that all but two Republican senators tried to vote this bill down in a narrow 61-38 passage.

So we have to ask: what is going on, that Democrats barely escaped a filibuster of this obviously positive legislation?

The means of support in the bill are hardly controversial. These tools are mainstays in the repertoire of both parties: tax cuts, loan programs and a panoply of other minor financial incentives to relieve and kick-start American entrepreneurship. In fact, GOP leaders are currently arguing to extend Bush-era tax cuts for top earners based in part on the rationale that they help small businesses.

This claim, it turns out, has long been the heart of the conservative stance on this issue: that our tax code lumps small businesses and wealthy individuals into the same pot. PolitiFact.org has thoroughly dissected and roundly rejected this idea. Locally, gubernatorial candidates Tom Horner and Tom Emmer have applied the same argument against Mark Dayton’s tax plan, leading Minnesota Public Radio News to do its own investigation. Their report agrees with PolitiFact and the New York Times that tax breaks and hikes affect small businesses differently than they do individuals.

The debate over this technicality is not likely to go away between now and Nov. 2. But if actions speak louder than words, then that 61-38 Senate vote is a good indication how serious the GOP really is about defending small businesses.