Opposition to Obamacare and other regulations carries risk — but staying silent carries even more
The main function of any business is to make money by serving customers in their community, so its uncomfortable when businesses find themselves caught in political or cultural battles. Two recent high-profile examples have happened this year: Chick-fil-A became a rallying point for gay marriage supporters and opponents when CEO Dan Cathy reiterated his support for a traditional definition of marriage, and Darden Restaurants faced withering criticism after it announced plans to bump some full-time workers to part-time status in response to the costs of Obamacare. Darden has since backtracked on that announcement in the wake of a raft of criticism.
The maelstrom of public opinion inspired Fox Business to ask a simple question: Is it too dangerous for businesses to speak out?
I was part of a conversation among CEOs that was broadcast yesterday, asking if people are shying away from criticism of the Obama administration’s rules and regulations burdening small businesses. Obviously, we are all competing in the marketplace, so there is some danger in sticking your neck out and possibly receiving the enmity of consumers.
Right now, however, the greater danger is not speaking out.
Small businesses have faced an incredibly challenging five years thanks to the recession and the continuing lending crisis that has choked off the flow of capital. It is simply not the time to stack additional regulatory and financial burdens onto small businesses. It’s a recipe for discouraging some people from starting businesses and for pushing others to fail just as the economy is beginning to improve.
Now, businesses should be under no illusions that the Obama administration is going to rollback every item that it has fought for over the past four years, but we need to speak out — loudly — so that they have the opportunity to understand the pain that overregulation is causing in the small business sector. Free enterprise cannot flourish if it is choked by burdensome government regulation, which has become ever more the case and will become much worse in the near future if some of the president’s plans are not modified.
President Obama is a smart, impressive man, and I’m certain that he believes these regulations and new laws represent a step forward for America. It’s up to small business leaders to speak up and help him realize that he is stepping a critical part of America’s economy into a pothole.
It’s a patriotic duty to speak up, and try to change course, and save our nation the pain of learning the hard way what happens when the small business engine of the American economy stalls out.