U.S. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) has introduced legislation that could devastate small businesses in his home state and nationwide. The Department of Commerce and the Workforce Consolidation Act, S.B. 1116, could eliminate federal programs to assist small businesses, costing the nation millions of jobs.
Burr’s bill puts North Carolina’s more than 172,000 small businesses at risk of losing access to the Small Business Administration’s assistance programs. These businesses account for 47.9% of the state’s private-sector work force. By slashing the SBA’s already-starved budget, the bill could eliminate small businesses’ access to federal contracts. More than 3,500 small businesses in North Carolina received more than $2 billion in federal contracts during fiscal 2009.
In 1953, President Eisenhower signed the Small Business Act into law, creating the SBA. This was the first, and remains the only, government agency focused on stimulating growth in the economic sector representing the American middle-class — small businesses. More importantly, the Small Business Act requires the federal government to award 23% of its annual procurement dollars for goods and services to small businesses.
More than half a century later, small businesses remain the primary engine of job creation in America. The U.S. Census Bureau says these businesses create 90% of net new jobs. Firms with fewer than 100 employees account for 98% of U.S. businesses. They produce half of GDP and more than 90% of our exports.
Yet somehow Sen. Burr and his Republican cohorts in Congress have managed to completely ignore the overwhelming evidence of the role of small business in job creation.
Slashing the SBA’s budget has exacerbated a longstanding contracting scandalacross all federal agencies. President George W. Bush cut the SBA’s budget more than 60%. An analysis of fiscal 2010 data by the American Small Business League shows only about 5% of total federal contract dollars went to small businesses instead of the mandated 23%.
Republicans claim S.B. 1116 is a cost-cutting measure. The SBA’s budget for 2010 was $700 million, while the Pentagon’s was $663.7 billion.
The bill proposes to merge the SBA with the Commerce Department, which will force drastic cuts to the SBA’s budget. It’s common knowledge the Commerce Department focuses on the interests of big business.
So why look for spending cuts in the agency with the second-lowest budget in the entire federal government? It’s really quite simple. Burr’s bill is designed to cut out small businesses and direct 100% of federal contracts to the Fortune 500.
Closing the only agency that helps our nation’s chief job creators is unconscionable, unpatriotic and devastating to our struggling economy. Burr is not representing the interests of the people of North Carolina by sponsoring this bill.