CHARLIE SUMMERS

Government needs to be on the side of small businesses

Posted Aug. 27, 2012, at 1:47 p.m.

Maine businesses need government to get out of the way, and let them grow this economy again. That’s why I pushed for the creation of the nation’s first small-business advocate, a resource for Maine small business owners facing burdensome paperwork requirements, complex state laws and overzealous regulators. Naomi Schalit and John Christie of the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting recently wrote about Maine’s small-business advocate. Unfortunately in their piece, Schalit and Christie overlook key facts and neglect to mention details in places, providing an incomplete picture of the yeoman’s work our small-business advocate has done on behalf of Mainers in the short time since it was created.

For years, small-business owners across the state have told me that a combative, inefficient bureaucracy was holding them back from growing. Furthermore, they didn’t have the resources for fancy lawyers or expert consultants to help them navigate the often-complex regulatory waters of Augusta. I saw a clear opportunity to put government back on the side of small businesses by assigning an independent representative to fight on their behalf.

Schalit and Christie write that “Summers boasts the program is a job creator,” but they fail to elaborate or provide any instances of anyone claiming the advocate as a source of new, private-sector jobs. The advocate, as I testified before the Legislature, serves as “an independent, accountable, and appropriate check on the state’s efforts to regulate Maine’s businesses.” As small-business owners across the state know, a business-friendly regulatory climate drives private sector job growth. Small businesses — not government — are the source of growth in our state, and the advocate’s office works tirelessly on their behalf to ensure Mainers get a fair shake from their government.

Schalit and Christie seem to take issue with the manner in which the office was created, implying, incorrectly, the position saddled taxpayers with an additional cost. The small-business advocate was formed by reallocating an existing position within the secretary of state’s office. This didn’t cost Maine taxpayers any additional money, but created a powerful advocate on their behalf.

Government works for the people, not the other way around, and as Maine’s next senator I’ll take this approach to Washington. My first bill in the U.S. Senate will create a national small-business advocate, just like the one that helps Mainers now. It’s time to end the contentious relationship between business and government. We must foster a pro-growth climate that will provide job creators with the economic certainty they need to grow and succeed.

To create this climate, we need to keep taxes low, and I’ll fight to preserve middle class tax cuts so Mainers can keep more of their hard-earned money. In the midst of a meager and fragile economic recovery, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on anybody. I’ll ensure Maine taxpayers are protected.

The advocate’s office has shone a bright light on the detrimental impact that overbearing regulations can have on small businesses. In Washington, just like in Augusta, I’ll work to ease excessive regulations, particularly on small businesses. Moreover I’ll fight to ensure that any new regulations are passed in a sensible, pragmatic way that won’t stifle growth.

Finally we must curb our runaway federal spending, which has ballooned under both parties. Our nation is nearly $16 trillion in debt with no end in sight, and the U.S. Senate has failed to pass a budget in over three years. As a small-business owner I quickly learned the necessity of a budget, and just as every family and business has to have one, so should the federal government. I will push for a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, just like we have here in Maine. Middle-class families across the country balance their budgets every day, and so should Washington.

I believe firmly that we need to get government out of the way, so we can let our small businesses grow this economy again. That’s why I created the office of the small-business advocate, and why I’ll push for similar reforms in the Senate. Maine businesses need someone in Washington that knows what it’s like to meet a payroll, someone who knows what it’s like to work late nights to make sure bills are paid. My experience as a small-business owner is something that has shaped my perspective on government, and as Maine’s next senator I will fight every day to make sure our hardworking men and women have a voice in Washington.

Secretary of State Charlie Summers is Maine’s Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

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