Today is the start of National Small Business Week, whereby government officials pay the usual platitudes to small businesses and their importance to our nation’s economy. Throughout the week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) will hold events and festivities in cities around the country to celebrate the small business owners who drive innovation and create jobs .
In his proclamation  officially kicking off the week, President Obama calls small businesses "the lifeblood of our economy, employing half of our country's workforce and creating nearly two out of every three new American jobs." He also points out everything his Administration has done to help small businesses, such as reducing the time it takes for the federal government to pay small business contractors and eliminating SBA loan fees. Interestingly, the proclamation dedicates just 65 words to praising the contributions of small businesses to our economy, followed by 213 words touting everything Obama has done for those businesses.
His comments praising his Administration’s actions to help small businesses bring to mind this famous quote: “Government knows how to break your legs, hand you a crutch, and say, ‘See, if it weren’t for the government, you wouldn’t be able to walk.’”
Because what Obama doesn’t highlight in his proclamation is everything his Administration has done to businesses.
During Obama’s presidency, a staggering number of rules and regulations  have been forced on businesses. During the first five years of the Obama Administration, 157 “major” rules were issued increasing regulations on private-sector activity at a cost of $73 billion annually. Major rules are defined by the Congressional Review Act as those that will have an estimated impact of at least $100 million per year. And there are another 125 “major” regulations on the Administration’s “to-do” list.
Earlier this year a federal report estimated that the cost of health insurance will increase for two-thirds  of the nation’s small businesses as a direct result of Obamacare. This means small businesses must pay more for the health plans they provide their workers, they must ask their workers to pay a greater percentage of those premiums, or they can quit offering health coverage altogether. This, of course, contradicts Obama’s original promise that Obamacare would save small businesses money.
And most recently, Obama wielded his “pen and phone”  powers to implement an executive order requiring all employers that do business with the federal government to pay a minimum wage of $10.10 (increased from $7.25—a 40% increase in labor costs), along with new “health and welfare” benefits at a rate of $3.81 per hour. The result has been the closure of several fast food restaurants on military bases with scores more predicted and job losses for nearly 5,750 workers. This prompted the Department of Labor to offer a temporary exemption  for fast food restaurants on military installations.
National Small Business Week recalls the old Roman practice of “panum et circenses,” or “bread and circuses.” The term was coined by Roman satirist and poet Juvenal to describe Rome’s political strategy of using entertainment and food to divert the attention of the masses from unpopular policies. The premise was that placating the Roman populace with frivolity would keep them content and distracted from the problems of the Empire.
Small businesses certainly deserve the recognition of Small Business Week, but such acknowledgement rings hollow in the face of the costly and job-killing policies that have been imposed on them in recent years. Small businesses need more than a week of parties and ceremonial platitudes; they need relief from the job-killing policies. Such action would mean more to business owners than the bread and circuses of National Small Business Week.