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The Assault on American Business

Chris Banescu

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The message from Washington is clear and getting louder by the day. If you run a successful business you face excessive government regulations and higher levels of taxation for years to come. The more productive and profitable you become, the more you will be forced to pay for the privilege of operating in this country. This threat is real and it appears that many companies and business owners are taking steps to protect themselves.

President Obama’s anti-business and anti-competitive campaign messages made executives and business owners apprehensive ahead of the January 2009 presidential inauguration and the Democrats obtaining control of Congress. Coming in the midst of one of the worst financial crisis and economic recessions in recent memory these promises had predictable results: businesses aggressively cut expenses, decreased their capital expenditures, drastically reduced their payrolls, and hunkered down to weather the current crisis and deal with the long-term consequences of punitive government actions.

What are the messages that businesses have been receiving from Obama and a vast majority of the Democrats in Washington even before the November 2008 elections?

  • We will raise your income taxes.
  • We will raise your capital gains and dividends taxes.
  • We will increase regulations and impose further restrictions on your economic activities and personal freedoms.
  • We will take over the private heath care system, dictate coverage and prices, and add a permanent surtax on upper-income individuals and businesses to pay for it all.
  • We will tax your carbon dioxide emissions and force you to justify your energy consumption.
  • We will dramatically increase energy and raw material prices via a convoluted and oppressive cap and trade tax and regulate scheme.
  • We will radically expand government deficit spending and bureaucracy.
  • We will add trillions of dollars to the national debt and virtually guarantee very high inflation, drastic weakening of the US dollar, diminished prospects of new jobs creation, and reduced economic activity for the foreseeable future.

Five Threats

There are at least five different specific promises and initiatives from the current administration that threaten the future competitiveness and success of American businesses and the prosperity of individuals who dare to succeed and earn more. These combined threats have played an important part in further depressing economic activity in the US and signaling to all company owners to remain defensive and cautious in the face of a business unfriendly political environment at least through the end of Obama’s term (only one, we hope) in office.

Threat #1 – Higher Income Taxes
Beginning with 2011 the Obama administration promises to raise income taxes on married couples earning more than $250,000/year and singles earning more than $200,000/year. This would mean that the two highest federal income tax rates will rise from 33% and 35%, to 36% and 39.6%, respectively. Furthermore, the White House seeks to phase out the personal exemptions and limit deductions allowed for these taxpayers. Many businesses are usually started and run by families and individuals with gross incomes in those ranges. This guaranteed 9% to 13% tax increase (likely much higher due to tax exemptions limits and planned healthcare surtaxes) on their yearly incomes will reduce cash flowing into the economy (via investments or purchases) and seriously hinder economic growth.

Threat #2 – Higher Capital Gains Taxes
President Obama also pledged to raise capital gains and dividends taxes from the current 15% to 20% starting in 2011. This represents a 33% tax increase on all businesses and individuals who realize a capital gain on the sale of stock, real estate, or other assets, and those that receive qualified dividends from stocks in their personal portfolios, retirement accounts, or pension funds. This enormous tax increase will punish not only the highest income earners, but all hard-working taxpayers and retirees.

Threat #3 – Government-Run Health Care/Socialized Medicine
The current administration is actively working to create a government-run health care system that will cost approximately $1.6 trillion over 10 years, as reported by the Congressional Budget Office, and will only remove “16 million from the 46 million uninsured.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that House Democrats want to implement a package of surtaxes from 1% to 3% on all families making $350,000 or more in order to raise an additional $540 billion in taxes over the next decade. So any small to medium-sized business earning at least $250,000 or more will see its tax rate increase from 35% now, to 39.6% to 42.6% come 2011, and possibly as high as 44.6% in 2013 when these health-care surtax rates are scheduled to rise to 2-5%. These business owners can now look forward to a massive 13.1% to 27.4% tax increase on their earnings.

Furthermore, Investor’s Business Daily details that the latest Senate version of this plan would include “a $750-per-worker ‘annual fee,’ $375 for part-time workers on companies with more than 25 employees that do not offer coverage to employees.” This represents yet another additional tax on small businesses. As the IBD article correctly points out, “if you’re a small business seeking to expand beyond 25 workers, you have quite a bit to think about. That’s sure going to help job growth.”

[ More... ]

Read the entire article on the Chris Banescu website (new window will open).

Chris Banescu is an attorney, entrepreneur, and university professor. His business, ethics, and management articles and podcasts can be found on www.ChrisBanescu.com. He is a regular contributor to OrthodoxyToday.org, manages the conservative site www.OrthodoxNet.com, writes articles, and has given talks and conducted seminars on a variety of business and management topics. He has also written book reviews for Townhall.com and articles for Acton.org.

Posted: 30-Jul-2009



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