2015 was a testament to the strength and resilience of America’s entrepreneurs.
2016 will be a challenge to policymakers to match their resolve with bold leadership, creative solutions and meaningful reforms.
As Chairman of the House Small Business Committee, I have worked with Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to find new ways to empower America’s entrepreneurs and remove obstacles in the way of their success.
We must do all we can to help America’s entrepreneurs who dare to dream and put their shoulders to the wheel to turn those dreams into a reality. When they succeed, they create jobs and jump-start economic growth, benefitting our communities, our states and our country.
That’s why the Kauffman Foundation’s Main Street Entrepreneurship Index for 2015 could not have come at a better time. These reports contain a number of useful data points that help us better understand what we hear from our small business owners at home. This invaluable input from a variety of sources will better inform the conversation surrounding entrepreneurship in our nation’s capital this coming year.
Small business activity is on the rise despite the strong headwinds of high taxation and overregulation. Our goal as policymakers must be to harness that momentum, build on past successes and unleash the full might of the American entrepreneurial spirit.
This has been an exciting year for our Committee, and I firmly believe that our work can serve as an excellent example of what Washington can accomplish when both sides come together to help small businesses.
Of particular note were two bipartisan bills crafted by our Committee, passed by Congress and signed by the President that can serve as a model for pro-entrepreneur legislative initiatives in 2016.
The first is The Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2015 (H.R. 2499), which makes it easier for a veteran or spouse of a veteran to obtain the private capital they need to start a business. The legislation achieves this by waiving the upfront guarantee fee for a Small Business Administration 7(a) express loan at no cost to the taxpayer.
I was proud to introduce this legislation, because veterans have invaluable skills and experience that often translate into success as entrepreneurs and small business owners. This law eliminates an obstacle to that success and will help ensure that the valuable skills of our service members are put to good use post deployment. The second bill is the Recovery Improvements for Small Entities (RISE) After Disaster Act of 2015 (H.R. 208), which allows small business owners to re-apply for disaster loans in states affected by natural disasters, including Superstorm Sandy.
The Government Accountability Office and the Office of the Inspector General uncovered significant delays in the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s processing times for disaster recovery assistance loans and serious operational problems within the program. As a result, disaster relief funds were needlessly delayed, arriving so late that families and businesses suffered additional, unnecessary financial losses.
Our legislation provides a remedy for small businesses that were victimized twice, first by a disaster and then by bureaucratic incompetence. And I am pleased to report that SBA disaster centers began reopening this month to help entrepreneurs get back on track in pursuing their dreams.
Progress made in 2015 will set the stage for broader, more comprehensive reform in the coming year.
For example, we must extend and make permanent the temporary provisions in the tax code that are vital to the success of our entrepreneurs. Step by step, Congress is moving closer to providing more tax certainty in these key areas. Just last month, the House passed the PATH (Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes) Act of 2015, which makes permanent the increased limits for the Section 179 expensing, and indexes those limits to inflation starting in 2016. The PATH Act also makes permanent the Research and Development tax credit and extends the bonus depreciation rules through 2019.
I look forward to continuing the conversation in 2016 and translating ideas into actionable policy solutions that will enable America’s entrepreneurs to thrive. I have no doubt the Kauffman Foundation will continue to make invaluable contributions to that conversation.
Photo Credit: Flickr
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