Fran Tarkenton is an NFL Hall-of-Famer, Job Creators Alliance member, and an entrepreneur who has launched more than 20 successful small businesses over the last 25 years, including OneMoreCustomer.com.
"Primum non nocere" is a Latin phrase, which translated, means: "first, do no harm." While Latin may be a dead language, the spirit of this phrase lives on today. It's commonly used in medical contexts, but maybe we should start applying it to the political arena as well.
For too long, small businesses have seen policies come from Washington that don't seem to mind what harm they might inflict on the private economy or the free enterprise system. Certainly, it doesn't appear that anyone in Washington is truly concerned about the mounting levels of debt that our children will inherit—and the harm that could do to their standard of living or economic opportunities.
While the election is behind us, the problems we face as a nation are not. And, given today's political landscape, there isn't much reason to be optimistic. Small business owners are the most pessimistic they've been for over two years, according to the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index. Our society's job creators are pessimistic, not just about today's political gamesmanship over the fiscal cliff, but they are also significantly more worried about expectations for the future: cash flow, spending and hiring.
As Gallup notes, this is quite stunning considering that entrepreneurs are, by their very nature, an optimistic bunch (how could you not be to risk everything to start a business?). The fact that nearly a quarter of small businesses are planning to reduce jobs over the next year is even more troubling, when there is broad agreement that what this economy needs is more jobs.
Given the precarious position of our nation's economy and its weak recovery, the Job Creators Alliance has consistently advocated that policymakers in Washington consider ways to encourage and empower the entrepreneur among us, the small businesses that create nearly two thirds of all news jobs in America.
We've called for commonsense regulatory reform and comprehensive tax reform. We've pointed out that raising taxes on small businesses won't lead to a single new job. We've decried the uncertainty that is being fueled by Washington's partisan bickering and indecisiveness.
As our elected leaders wrestle over how to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff's combination of crushing tax increases and crippling cuts, perhaps it would behoove them to consider that old Latin maxim to do no harm.
Don't do harm by protecting those small businesses that we are relying on to get our economy growing again. Don't do harm by making sure that if taxes are going to go up, they won't hit the 75 percent of small businesses that file taxes as individuals and therefore look like millionaires to the IRS.
Like I mentioned, entrepreneurial job creators are optimistic by nature, and although we've been discouraged by what our Congress and the president have (or have not) been able to accomplish, hope springs eternal that our elected leaders will—as Winston Churchill so famously observed—do the right thing, once they've exhausted all other options.