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Fact Sheet: The President's Small Business Agenda: Helping Entrepreneurs Prosper

April 13, 2006

Today, President Bush Addressed The Small Business Week Conference And Outlined His Agenda To Help Small Businesses Grow. The President discussed three broad areas where the Administration is improving the environment for small businesses - keeping taxes low and spending tax dollars wisely, making health care more affordable and available, and expanding business opportunities at home and abroad.

  • America's Small Businesses Are Thriving. Small businesses create two out of every three new jobs and account for nearly half of America's overall employment. They have played a vital role in helping our economy add more than 5.1 million new jobs since August 2003 and have helped reduce America's unemployment rate to 4.7 percent, below the average rate of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Small businesses are also vital for supporting our communities.

  • Small Businesses Create New Opportunities - Especially For Women And Minorities. Women own more than a quarter of all businesses, and the number of women-owned businesses is growing. Hispanic Americans are opening their own businesses at a rate three times the national average.

Keeping Taxes Low And Spending Tax Dollars Wisely

The President Has Lowered Taxes For Everyone Who Pays Income Taxes. The President's tax relief has helped workers keep more of their paychecks; helped families by lowering rates and doubling the child credit; reduced the marriage penalty; and put the death tax on the road to extinction.

  • The President Also Cut Taxes On Small Businesses. Whether as sole proprietorships, limited partnerships, or subchapter S corporations, most small businesses pay taxes at the individual income tax rate. By reducing the tax rates on individuals, taxes on small businesses were cut - increasing the amount of capital available to hire new workers and expand businesses. The President also increased investment expensing tax provisions and proposed more in the 2007 budget to help small businesses grow and create more jobs.

  • To Keep The Small Business Sector Strong And Creating Jobs, Congress Needs To Make Tax Relief Permanent. Congress can start by sending the President a bill extending the tax cuts on dividends and capital gains - so that businesses can plan with confidence and keep creating jobs.

Congress Needs To Restrain Spending So We Can Stay On Track To Cut The Deficit In Half By 2009. All business owners have to live within their means - and so should the government.

  • We Are Making Progress Restraining Spending. Every year since the President has been in office, we have slowed the growth of discretionary spending that is not related to the military or homeland security; we have actually cut this spending in the last two budgets. One of the best tools to eliminate wasteful spending is the line-item veto, and the President urges Congress to pass it quickly.

Reforming Our Healthcare System To Make Coverage More Affordable And Available

To Help Make Coverage More Affordable For Small Businesses, The President Proposes Expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). HSAs allow Americans to save tax-free dollars to pay for near-term medical expenses and save for future long-term costs. HSAs provide catastrophic coverage at a low price and allow employers and employees to contribute to a tax-free account that the employee owns and can use for routine medical expenses. These accounts are accompanied by an HSA-qualified insurance plan covering major medical expenses and preventive care. HSA-qualified insurance plans are an alternative to traditional health insurance policies and have lower premiums and higher deductibles. Savings from lower premiums can be put toward funding the HSA.

  • HSAs Are Already Making Coverage More Affordable. More than a third of those who have chosen HSAs were previously uninsured. Forty percent of those who own HSAs have family incomes below $50,000 a year. Over the last year, the number of Americans who have bought HSAs has tripled - from one million to more than three million.

The President's Proposed Expansion Of HSAs Will Help Small Businesses And The Self-Employed.

  • Giving Those Who Purchase HSA Policies On Their Own The Same Tax Breaks As Those Who Get Their Health Insurance From Their Employers. Under current law, employers and employees pay no income or payroll tax on any health insurance provided through the workplace. But people buying insurance on their own do not get the same tax break, which puts the self-employed, unemployed, and workers at companies that do not provide insurance at a disadvantage.

  • Raising The Amount That Can Be Contributed To HSAs Tax-Free. The tax code limits the amount that can be contributed to an HSA tax-free. This limit is usually tied to the deductible but sometimes out-of-pocket expenses are greater than the deductible. To help Americans cover all their out-of-pocket expenses with tax-free dollars and make HSAs even more practical, the cap on the amount of money that can be put into an HSA tax-free needs to be raised.

The President Has Proposed Association Health Plans (AHPs) So Small Businesses Get The Same Discounts On Health Insurance As Big Businesses. AHPs would allow small firms to band together across state lines to create larger risk pools - and that would let them buy insurance coverage for their employees at the same discounts that big companies get. The House has already passed a bill allowing AHPs - and the President calls on the Senate to do its part.

To Make Healthcare More Affordable, We Need To Reduce Frivolous Lawsuits. Good doctors are being forced to practice defensive medicine - ordering unnecessary tests, visits, and procedures to protect themselves from getting sued. Defensive medicine raises the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Affairs, and other Federal health programs by an estimated $28 billion a year. The House has passed a good piece of legislation - but it is being blocked in the Senate. The President calls on Congress to pass medical liability reform this year. To help small businesses, the President supports the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act, which would penalize frivolous lawsuits.

The President Is Also Pursuing Other Reforms To Make The Healthcare System More Efficient And Cost-Effective. The President is promoting transparency so patients know exactly what procedures cost and what they entail. The President is also pushing for better use of information technology to expand electronic health records and help doctors improve efficiency and eliminate preventable medical errors.

Making It Easier And Less Expensive To Do Business Here And Abroad

At Home, The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Is Working Hard To Make It Easier For People To Start Their Own Companies. Since the President came into office, the Administration has doubled the number of small business loans and increased the number of loans to minority entrepreneurs by 175 percent. We have also reduced administrative costs and bureaucracy so that small business loans are now much cheaper to fund. Overall, the cost of running the SBA has been lowered by more than 20 percent - and we have increased the amount of loans to entrepreneurs by 80 percent.

Abroad, The Administration Is Opening Markets. Small businesses account for about a quarter of America's exports and have great potential for expanding their sales overseas, but the cost of doing business overseas is often too high for small firms. Small businesses need markets to be open and easy to navigate, which is why the President has concluded free and fair trade agreements around the world. When the President took office, the United States had three free trade agreements. Now we have free trade agreements with 11 countries and 18 more are pending - and the President is pushing for an ambitious conclusion to the Doha round of world trade talks.

  • Making It Easier For Small Businesses To Export Also Means Ensuring America's Trading Partners Play By The Rules. Next week, the President will welcome President Hu Jintao of China to the White House. America values China as a trading partner but also expects China to live up to its commitments. By standing up for free and fair trade, America will contribute to China's development and ensure a level playing field for American business.

The President Has Proposed Bold Initiatives To Keep America The Best Place In The World To Do Business.

  • The American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). The ACI keeps America competitive by doubling funding for vital basic research in the physical sciences, making the R&D tax credit permanent, and ensuring students have needed math and science skills.

  • The Advanced Energy Initiative (AEI). The AEI speeds up investment in promising new technologies that will move America beyond a petroleum-based economy and free the Nation from our dependence on Middle Eastern oil.

  • Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The President is working with Congress for a fair immigration system that protects the country, secures our borders, and meets the economy's legitimate needs in a lawful and orderly way.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: The President's Small Business Agenda: Helping Entrepreneurs Prosper Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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