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True love or two-timers in Congress?

We certainly heard a great deal about the need to help small business during the presidential debates. And it’s no different when it comes to battles for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Heck, the political love for small business is espoused all the way down to races for town council.

I’m not sure, though, that all of this declared affection for small business means very much to the entrepreneurs who create, build and run those enterprises. Too often, they have a tough time lining up the political rhetoric with the actual headaches and costs they face due to taxes, regulations and red tape imposed by some of these supposedly caring politicians.

Every two years, the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (for which I serve as chief economist) tries to help sort out whose small business love in Congress is true, and who is just two-timing small business owners.

This year’s “Congressional Scorecard for the 112th Congress: How Members of Congress Voted on Key Small Business Issues” scored House members and senators on 20 votes in each chamber.

In the House, legislation voted on included measures to reel in abuses by the National Labor Relations Board; to make the regulatory system less burdensome, more accountable and more transparent; to reduce red tape; and to remove barriers to increased domestic energy production.

Over in the Senate, there was need to play some defense, as various legislative measures were clearly anti-small business, including a bill to raise taxes on oil and gas companies, which would hit the many small enterprises operating in that industry, and result in higher energy costs for consumers and small firms in general.

In contrast, the Senate also voted on an amendment that would have prohibited the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing regulations or taking action on “greenhouse gases” as related to addressing climate change. The intention here was to stop the EPA from moving ahead with a regulatory scheme, not approved by Congress, to cap emissions, thereby jacking up energy costs, and making U.S. businesses and workers far less competitive in the global marketplace.

Both the Senate and the House voted on legislation to repeal expanded IRS reporting requirements included in ObamaCare; to approve free trade accords with Colombia, Panama and South Korea; to reform the patent system; to expand capital available for small businesses by removing barriers to crowd-fund investments via the Internet; and to repeal the entire costly, job-killing Obamacare health care law.

So, did any members of Congress come through as perfect in their love for small business? Twenty-two U.S. senators voted with small business 100 percent of the time. Meanwhile, in the House, 149 members had 100 percent scores, or just over a third of House members.

At the other end, only one member of the entire Congress had a perfect anti-small business voting record. U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, earned the infamous recognition of scoring zero percent.

As for entire state delegations, both senators and House members, there was a notable range between the states in terms of average scores.

The states whereby members of Congress voted with small business on average at a rate of 80 percent or better are: Idaho (100 percent), Kansas and Wyoming (98.3 percent), Oklahoma (97.5 percent), Alabama (92 percent), Arkansas and Utah (90 percent), Nebraska (88 percent), Tennessee (87.8 percent), South Carolina (87.5 percent), Louisiana (86.4 percent), New Hampshire (83.8 percent), Kentucky (83.6 percent), Mississippi (83.5 percent), Texas (82 percent), Florida (81.3 percent) and North Dakota (80 percent).

As for the state delegations with average votes below 50 percent: New York (49.3 percent), Maine (46.3 percent), New Mexico (42 percent), Oregon (41.4 percent), Delaware (40 percent), Maryland (38.4 percent), Connecticut (31 percent), Massachusetts (29.3 percent), Hawaii (24.8 percent), Rhode Island (22.5 percent) and Vermont (22.3 percent).

The entire report, with the scores for each member of Congress can be read at SBE Council’s website at www.sbecouncil.org.

When feeling pessimistic about politicians, it’s worth keeping in mind that 22 of 100 senators, and a third of House members had perfect pro- small business voting records in the 112th Congress. That’s not too shabby. Of course, though, it falls far short of the nearly unanimous pro-small business rhetoric tossed around by elected officials.

— Raymond J. Keating, chief economist, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

Arizona Delegation Small Business-Voting percentage

David Schweikert (R) 100%

Ben Quayle (R) 100%

Jeff Flake (R) 95%

Trent Franks (R) 95%

Paul Gosar (R) 95%

Ed Pastor (D) 25%

Raul Grijalva (D) 20%

*Ron Barber (D) did not have a sufficient number of votes to be included.

Jon Kyl (R) 100%

John McCain (R) 89%

Average: 80%

— Source: SBE Council’s “Congressional Scorecard for the 112th Congress: How Members of Congress Voted on Key Small Business Issues,” October 2012

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