NFIB: Column: Getting Ready for the Big Blow

By Jack Faris

British Admiral Francis Beaufort has long since slipped into the mists of history, but the measurement scale of wind force he created nearly 200 years ago remains an invaluable tool for scientists and weather forecasters. Force 5, by his calculations, means just a fresh breeze that causes small trees to sway; Force 12, on the other hand, is a full-blown hurricane.

Hurricane season is underway, and small-business owners are bracing for some mighty strong gusts that could create fear and confusion. Their worry is not over storms that arise from the sea, but those violent squalls of campaign rhetoric that will undoubtedly be hurled about by political candidates bearing down on Election Day.

The closer America gets to Nov. 2, the stronger the tempests that will flood the airwaves. With 100 percent certainty, the forecast will be for an electrically charged atmosphere of swirling demagogic debris and bombastic blasts that will fog any glimpse of the facts.

The dangerous and difficult task facing the nation’s entrepreneurs is to determine which of the candidates on their ballots will serve as wind beneath their wings versus those who will be fair-weather friends. Some whose campaign promises feel like warm, gentle breezes actually have histories of huffing and puffing for government programs and regulations that would threaten to blow small businesses down.

America’s independent-business builders have precious little time to prepare for this oncoming gale. They can ill afford to take time away from their day-to-day pursuits of the American dream, but know that the sure way to avoid disaster is to begin careful investigations of candidates’ records.

Where do the candidates stand on affordable health insurance for small business, tax policy, legal reform and regulatory relief? Do they swing like weather vanes when the wind shifts or are they unflappable small-business supporters who work to create a fair climate for job-creating free enterprises?

The National Federation of Independent Business has crafted its own scale that small-business owners will find helpful in picking their way through the partisan pea soup. The advocacy group rates elected officials purely on their voting records, not on their vocal velocity. To measure up, candidates must have cast votes in favor of small business a minimum of 70 percent of the time ( , key word: “how congress voted”).

What’s more, these records are based on issues determined crucial by direct ballot of small-business owners. No handpicked committee or select group decides the list of key votes.

Small-business owners should review the Small Business Growth Agenda that NFIB members crafted long before the first air currents of this election cycle appeared ( , key word: “growth agenda”). It demands simplifying the tax code and reducing taxes; easing the burden of excessive regulation and intrusive labor laws; supporting affordable health care; curbing frivolous lawsuits; and ending government competition.

By measuring candidates against this agenda, small-business owners can gauge who consistently stood by them in fair weather and foul. Then when they arrive at the polls on Election Day to pull those levers, their choices should be a breeze.

–Jack Faris is president of NFIB (the National Federation of Independent Business), the nation’s largest small-business advocacy group. A non-profit, non-partisan organization founded in 1943, NFIB represents the consensus views of its 600,000 members in Washington, D.C., and all 50 state capitals. More information is available on-line at