“Every year, the tax burden becomes more costly for America’s 28 million small businesses. The tax code is increasingly complicated and changes often. Most small businesses spend 40 hours or more preparing their taxes, and four out of ten businesses spend two full workweeks on compliance. That is a high cost in lost time and productivity for a small business. One in three small firms spends $10,000 on compliance. Jobs are still scarce, and the combined burdens of complex taxes and high rates are obstacles to growth. The jobs-stifling tax code is not just a Tax Day problem for small companies, but a year-round burden on their budgets that can impact their entrepreneurial decisions. Small businesses overwhelmingly support sensible reforms for lower rates, simpler preparation and clearer guidelines.”
Last week, the Small Business Committee examined these very challenges for small businesses. The growing number of tax provisions means that owners must spend significant resources on compliance that could otherwise be spent growing their companies. According to the Internal Revenue Service’s own National Taxpayer Advocate, there were over 500 changes to the tax code in 2010 alone, an average of more than one per day. And the steep tax rates mean small firms have less capital to invest back into hiring or expanding.
The National Small Business Association released a survey on April 9, 2014, in conjunction with the testimony of NSBA member Tim Reynolds, a small business executive. The growing complexity of the tax process causes 86 percent of small businesses to pay tax preparers.###
Recently on a Sunday, my husband suggested we “unplug”…no cell phones, no computers, nothing electronic. Instead, we talked, read (paperback) and paused. We enjoyed nature and stayed active. I have to admit, I did go through a little withdrawl from my connectivity with the outside world. I felt irresponsible to my clients and staff. I had this sense that the world might fall apart and I wouldn’t know anything about it. How ridiculous this sounds writing it, but in the moment, it felt real!
After my very wonderful detached day which took me only a short time to relax into, I felt more connected to my surroundings and my relationship. I noticed the sounds of the birds, the breeze through the leaves, felt the sun on my skin. I listened more attentively to my husband and we talked about fun silly stuff instead of looking at calendars and scheduling. We had fun.
I woke up the next day recharged and ready to open my email and texts. I realized that to be totally “on”, I needed to take a step back and disconnect. I didn’t know this until I tried it!
I think this practice was one we can use in many areas of our lives. So many of us go full speed ahead with work, obligations, travel, our workouts and everything else which keeps us running from one event to another without pause.
Where in your life do you get so immersed, you forget so many other aspects of your life?
Where can you disconnect for a day so you can step back into it recharged?
Who in your life are you forgetting about because you are so busy with filling up every moment?
Do you even know what it’s like to unplug (I forgot myself!)?
Consider taking a pause and embracing your surroundings.
Consider if you unplugged, disconnected and went off the grid for even a few hours how you might feel refreshed the next day. Would your friends and family be inspired by this? Might be something to try!
A bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders today announced a legislative agreement to improve and reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act. Negotiated by Representatives John Kline (R-MN), George Miller (D-CA), Todd Rokita (R-IN), and David Loebsack (D-IA), and Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Richard Burr (R-NC), the agreement will enhance transparency, strengthen health and safety protections, and improve the quality of care.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant Act provides funds to states to help low-income families pay for child care while a parent works or is in an educational or job training program. The law has not been reauthorized since 1996. Today’s bipartisan, bicameral agreement is based upon legislation introduced in 2013 by Senators Mikulski and Burr that passed the Senate earlier this year.
“The Child Care and Development Block Grant program is a vital lifeline for countless Americans,” said Rep. Kline, chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “Working moms and dads have pursued a career, earned a degree, or acquired new skills and training because of the support available through this program. The commonsense ideas included in this bipartisan, bicameral agreement will only strengthen our support of these working families. I want to thank my House and Senate colleagues for working together to forge this bipartisan agreement.”
“For working families in Iowa and around the country, access to safe and affordable child care is essential,” said Senator Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “This bipartisan bill will help to ensure working parents have access to quality, affordable child care and provide rich early-learning opportunities for children, including infants and toddlers and children with disabilities. This bill is a strong example of what Congress can achieve by working together. I am encouraged by the HELP Committee’s growing record of bipartisan accomplishments and look forward to the President signing this critical bill into law.”
“Every parent, regardless of their income level, deserves to know that their child is well cared-for,” said Rep. Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. “This bipartisan, bicameral bill improves child care access, makes critical new investments, and helps to ensure children are safe and are receiving quality care. Reliable care sets children on the path toward success in school and in the rest of their lives. While helping to prepare the next generation, good child care also supports working parents to promote greater workforce stability. These updates to CCDBG are vital for our children, our families, and our nation’s future.”
“This bill helps a working Tennessee mother be able to pay for child care while she earns a degree so she can pay for it herself,” said Sen. Alexander, the senior Republican on the Senate HELP Committee. “Every month, an average of 39,000 Tennessee children get child care through this program while their parents earn an education or build a career. Today’s agreement will continue success stories like the Memphis mother whose infant received care through this program while she earned a business degree and rose to assistant manager at a Walmart, enabling her to pay for the care of her second child at the same childcare center.”
“For families struggling to make ends meet, quality child care is a necessity,” said Rep. Rokita. “This significant agreement strengthens a child care program that has been untouched for nearly two decades. It does so by preserving provider choice, improving transparency, and most importantly, child safety. This bill could truly save lives, and I look forward to its passage.”
“Every working parent with children no matter their income level worries about child care,” said Sen. Mikulski. “What’s affordable? What’s accessible? Will my child be safe? Where can I get the very best care for my kid? It is not enough to simply ensure that kids have someplace to go. We must also ensure that they go someplace that is safe, that nurtures their development, that challenges their mind, and that prepares them for school. I am so pleased that the Senate and House have come together on a bipartisan basis to revitalize, refresh, and reform this vitally important program to support child care providers, give parents peace of mind, and better prepare our children for the future. It’s time to get this done for children, parents, and providers alike!”
“As the son of a single mother, I know how important quality, affordable child care is for working families,” said Rep. Loebsack. “The Child Care Development Block Grant provides a critical lifeline to families and allows them to work or attend school with the peace of mind knowing their children are safe and well cared for. This bipartisan agreement makes long needed updates and improvements to CCDBG that will promote healthy child development and enhance quality and safety. I am pleased that both Republicans and Democrats from both the House and Senate came together to improve the lives of working families.”
“Over three years ago Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and I made a commitment to reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant program so that kids could have safer environments in which to stay while their parents worked and taxpayers did not continue to subsidize providers who created unsafe settings and threatened their well-being. It has been a long time coming, but I’m proud we have reached this point," said Senator Richard Burr. "I am thankful for the work of my colleagues in the Senate and the House who stood together to ensure the passage of this legislation. This legislation will positively impact the lives of millions of children and their parents.”
The bipartisan, bicameral agreement includes reforms to:
- Enhance parental choice by providing information about available care options from all providers, including faith-based and community-based providers, and allowing parents to choose the child care provider that best suits their family’s needs.
- Strengthen safety in child care settings by requiring all providers to comply with state health, safety, and fire standards and undergo annual inspections.
- Promote high quality child care by reserving funds at the state level to improve the quality of care provided to children, enhancing states’ ability to train providers and develop safer and more effective child care services.
The text of the bill is available here.
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With this weeks’ reveal of the iPhone6 and the Apple Watch, we thought it relevant to give you a taste of what everyone is talking about. Just think about all the potential new apps these new items will bring us. These really are elevating the expectation of future innovations brought to us by our neighbors, here in Cupertino. To see these great pieces for yourself check out the below videos.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, today sent letters to Home Depot and Apple requesting information on the companies’ recent data security incidents.
In response to the confirmed data breach at Home Depot involving a massive amount of credit and debit card information, the Senators are asking for a briefing on the company...
Yoda, the Jedi Master from Star Wars, offered the simplest piece of advice that saved the universe: “Do or do not; there is no try!” In other words, when you and your team decide to do something – a goal, project, program, etc. – then commit to it and see it through with gusto. Anything less than your full effort will likely result in unsatisfactory outcomes.
I offer one last passage from former Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine’s book Unbeatable Mind to shed light on goal-setting and commitment. Divine’s suggestions allow for analysis and personal dialogue, and will keep you on the path of success:
- Be optimistic, and expect to win.
- Make sure that the goal is very motivating to you and your team.
- Seriously desire to win or achieve the goal. Ask yourself how badly you want the victory before you decide to act.
- Understand the difference between your skills and knowledge now and what will be required to succeed at a high level. If the difference is too much to overcome in the time frame you have, then you should “wave off” and choose another mission.
- Ensure that you have the mental and physical capital to pull it off in a way that does not impact other mission-critical goals.
- Once you commit, then “burn your boats,” press forward and never, ever quit!
House Small Business Committee Sam Graves (R-MO) today released the following statement on House passage of the Employee Health Care Protection Act (HR 3522), which would give Americans in the group insurance market the opportunity to keep their policies in 2014 through 2019 and also give small businesses and their workers the option to choose plans even if they don’t comply with the Affordable Care Act’s rules.
“Complying with Obamacare has been a nightmare for small businesses. Under the health care law’s rules, costs are increasing for nearly two-thirds of small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees, according to a CMS report released in February. The frequent delays and changes with the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) have also made assurances of more competition and choice ring hollow. Despite the President’s promise that you could keep your plan, millions of Americans have had their plans cancelled, and many employees of small businesses are likely to get those notices this Fall. The Employee Health Care Protection Act is desperately needed because it gives small businesses and their workers the option to keep or choose the health plan they want, despite the ACA’s benefit requirements. This will provide more affordable options than what is available under Obamacare.”
The Committee has conducted extensive oversight of the Small Business Health Options Program this Congress. In June, Graves wrote to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to again request information about the SHOP enrollment. In January, Graves requested enrollment numbers and related information from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. To date, the information has not been produced.
List of SHOP delays and mismanagement:
• On April 1, 2013, the Obama Administration announced that the employer health insurance choice on the federal SHOP exchanges would be delayed until 2015, limiting employers to one single plan.
• On June 19, 2013, a GAO report requested by Chairman Graves confirmed the administration was ill-equipped for the implementation of the SHOPs, showing potential for “implementation challenges going forward.”
• On September 26, 2013, HHS announced the SHOPs online enrollment would be postponed from October 1 until November, forcing small businesses to enroll using paper forms. That same day, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney clarified the enrollment would begin on November 1, 2013.
• During a Ways and Means Committee hearing on October 29, 2013, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the SHOPs would be operating at the end of November.
• On November 22, 2013, the Administration extended the Obamacare federal exchange signup deadline (for January 1 coverage) from December 15 to December 23.
• On November 27, 2013, the day before Thanksgiving, the Administration announced a fourth SHOP-related delay, postponing online enrollment for a full year.
“The president promised time and again if people liked their health care plan they could keep it,” said Rep. Kline. “But the American people are discovering the president failed to keep his word, leaving them with political gimmicks, cancelled policies, and broken promises. Today the House passed legislation to allow hard-working Americans to keep the health plans they like, providing workers and small businesses more affordable health care options. I urge the Senate to support the legislation without delay.”
“When President Obama reassured people repeatedly that if they liked their current health care plan they could keep it,” said Rep. Roe, “he was ignoring clear warnings that this promise couldn’t be kept. As a physician, I anticipated that insurance would become increasingly unaffordable and that many Americans would lose access to their existing policies. I am proud to join my colleagues in the House in taking this important step to alleviate some of the chaos the president’s health care law is causing, and I hope the Senate will do the same.”
The Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce, under the chairmanship of Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY), today conducted a hearing to examine the declining rate of small business creation over the past 30 years and the state of entrepreneurship during this latest economic recovery.
The rate of new business creation has dropped by nearly 50 percent from 1978. In 1978, there were 12 new businesses created for each existing business while in 2011 this dropped to 6.2 new firms. Under the Obama Administration, entrepreneurial job creation has declined by one-third to 7.8 percent. By comparison, the average rate for entrepreneurial job creation under the previous three presidents was 11.3, 11.2, and 10.8.
“Our economy is facing a crisis that most Americans are not aware of – a decline in entrepreneurship,” said Chairman Hanna. “For the first time in over 30 years, more businesses are dying off than being created. Today’s hearing provided further evidence that Washington must do more to provide a better regulatory and tax environment for enterprise growth. We must not allow a declining rate of business formation and sluggish growth to be considered the new normal, and we should pursue policies which unleash the economic power of entrepreneurship and the American spirit."
Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.
John Dearie, Executive Vice President, Financial Services Forum, Washington, DC said, “New businesses create an average of 3 million new jobs annually, while existing firms of any age, type, or size, in aggregate, shed a net average of about 1 million jobs each year, as some businesses fail and others incorporate technology and become more efficient. Were it not for new businesses, there would be no net new job creation in most years.”
“…the policy needs and priorities of new businesses are unique. Start-ups are different from existing businesses. While they confront challenges similar to those of existing businesses, their ability to successfully navigate those challenges is more limited.”
Jonathan Ortmans, Senior Fellow, Kauffman Foundation, Washington, DC said, “Congress should… examine the role regulatory accumulation may play in depressing entrepreneurial activity. As new regulations are enacted on top of existing rules, businesses are faced with the challenge of navigating an increasingly complex regulatory regime. A handful of ideas have been proposed to address this challenge, including the establishment of a Regulatory Improvement Commission and the automatic sunset of major rules after a set amount of time.”
Chad Moutray, Chief Economist, National Association of Manufacturers, Washington, DC, said, “Beyond these issues, the best way to increase firm formation is to have a growing economy. Policymakers need to adopt pro-growth measures that will enable manufacturers and other businesses to expand, to hire more workers and to invest in more capital spending. A healthy economy will encourage more participants, and that should spur more entrepreneurship and innovation. The pro-growth priorities of manufacturers include, but are not limited to: passing comprehensive tax reform, providing regulatory relief, expanding trade opportunities, enacting sensible energy policies, investing in more infrastructure, encouraging research and development, and developing the next generation of workers.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller, IV, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced a Full Committee hearing on Wednesday, September 10, 2014, at 2:30 p.m. titled, “Freight Rail Service: Improving the Performance of America’s Rail System.”
The hearing will focus on rail service issues throughout the country, including congestion and locomotive and railcar shortages. Stakeholders will discuss the impacts of rail service issues on various industries and the economy.
“Small businesses face record levels of red tape under President Obama’s policies, and America’s small manufacturers can attest that the regulatory burden is a growing problem. A study showing that federal regulations annually cost $2 trillion should be a wake-up call to this administration. Compliance costs are soaring for small businesses, which often do not have the employee expertise to decipher and handle more government paperwork and other mandates. The study finds that small businesses are annually spending $11,724 per employee to comply with federal regulations. The number increases for small manufacturers to $34,671 per employee, which means that small manufacturers are spending two-and-a-half-times more on federal regulatory compliance than large manufacturers. They are forced to invest in attorneys, accountants, consultants, tax preparers and other advisors, rather than their companies. Under this burden, the economy cannot sustain the growth needed to restore the good jobs and wages that can put more Americans back on track to budget for educational goals, homes and retirements. Small manufacturers and the entire economy would benefit from a major course correction away from burdensome government. It’s time for Washington policies to start working with small businesses for growth, not against them.”
Chad Moutray, the Chief Economist for the National Association of Manufacturers, will testify in tomorrow’s Small Business Committee hearing: The Decline in Business Formation: Implications for Entrepreneurship and the Economy.
“The SBA is responsible for managing a set of core programs designed to help small businesses succeed, but the agency has a recent history of ignoring the law and being sidetracked by its own pet projects,” said Chairman Graves. “The Committee remains concerned that the SBA’s resources are not focused on reforms and programs that Congress has mandated. For instance, the number of small businesses trained in many of the SBA’s proven entrepreneurial development programs has been in decline while the agency spends millions of dollars to fund unauthorized efforts that duplicate services available from other federal agencies and the private sector. This diversion of resources also comes at the expense of implementing contracting reforms signed into law two years ago that will help small businesses compete in the federal procurement arena. Over 40 of the tasks assigned to the SBA to implement the law remain incomplete.”
Materials from the hearing are available on the Committee’s website HERE.
Rokita Statement: Hearing on "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight"
A free and democratic society requires government transparency and accountability. We all want the federal government to serve the best interests of every American – those directly affected by federal programs and those whose tax dollars fund federal programs. To get there, we need to know what’s working and what isn’t. And we need to know the steps an agency should take to turn things around.
The Department of Education administers roughly 80 programs tied to K-12 schools; 80 programs just at the elementary and secondary education level. It requires a massive bureaucracy to administer so many programs, and the greater the bureaucracy the greater the opportunities for mismanagement. That is why the House has taken action that would begin streamlining these programs, because a more efficient Department of Education can do a better job supporting our nation’s schools.
However, even the leanest federal agency can still be susceptible to waste, fraud, and abuse. We must remain vigilant in our oversight, both in Congress and the offices of our independent partners. The Government Accountability Office and inspectors general are at the forefront of this important effort. Their knowledge and investigative authority are vital tools in the fight against government corruption and mismanagement.
Chairwoman Foxx noted several reports by GAO affecting higher education policies with recommendations that remain open. Here are just a few examples affecting K-12 education policies:
- “Education Could Do More to Assist Charter Schools with Applying for Discretionary Grants”;
- “Students with Disabilities: Better Federal Coordination Could Lessen Challenges in the Transition from High School”;
- “Selected States and School Districts Cited Numerous Federal Requirements as Burdensome, While Recognizing Some Benefits”; and
- “Education Research: Further Improvements Needed to Ensure Relevance and Assess Dissemination Efforts.”
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Foxx Statement: Hearing on "Improving Department of Education Policies and Programs Through Independent Oversight"
The Government Accountability Office and each agency’s Office of Inspector General play vital roles in the oversight effort. The hard-working staff of these nonpartisan entities are the taxpayers first line of defense against waste, fraud and abuse of tax dollars. They also help identify areas where programs and policies can be improved to ensure the American people receive the best services possible.
Like all federal agencies, the Department of Education has a responsibility to take the concerns and recommendations offered by these independent investigators seriously. There is certainly no shortage of improvements needed at the department. In recent years, the GAO has issued numerous reports highlighting areas where programs and policies should be strengthened, including reports entitled:
- “Use of New Data Could Help Improve Oversight of Distance Education”;
- “Foreign Medical Schools: Education Should Improve Monitoring of Schools That Participate in the Federal Student Loan Program”;
- “Better Oversight Could Improve Defaulted Loan Rehabilitation”; and
- “Improved Tax Information Could Help Families Pay for College.”
However, each independent report represents an opportunity for a federal agency to consider changes and improve. Whether it’s the solutions outlined by the GAO and IG offices, or a set of changes proposed internally by an agency, action must be taken. The American people deserve no less.
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Rockefeller Urges Surface Transportation Board to Address Needs of Businesses, Consumers in Evaluating Revenue Adequacy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, last week submitted a statement to the Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) Ex Parte Proceeding 722 on Railroad Revenue Adequacy, urging STB to address the concerns of the shipper community, and focus on individuals and businesses who use the rail system, in order to move toward a more balanced system.
“While the railroads prosper under the regulatory system established by the Staggers Act, today’s shippers and...