Cooper expects Congress to do what it has done many times in the past — come up with a stopgap measure and defer significant decisions until six months or more into the future. That would keep him in limbo while he waits to see if lawmakers will eventually agree on taxes and a budget. He’s angry about what’s happening in Washington.
“It’s an embarrassment to the country. It’s an insult to my intelligence,” he says.
During the presidential campaign, Republican candidate Mitt Romney contended that small business owners would be hit so hard by the scheduled increase in the top tax rate — a jump from 35 percent to 39.6 percent — that they’d stop creating jobs. That rate would affect single taxpayers who earn $200,000 or more and households that earn $250,000 or more. But Democrats and advocacy groups including Small Business Majority say the number of business owners who would be affected by that increase is less than 5 percent.
“This is a myth that just continues to get life without any substantiation,” says Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis. She says the bigger issues are the 2 percent payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance extension. If they’re allowed to die, she says, businesses like Jones’ Five Guys franchises will suffer.
“That’s the bottom line — how many people are going to be out eating those burgers and fries,” she says.
Small business owners who rely on federal contracts are worried about how much business they’ll get from the government if big spending cuts go into effect. Vince Fudzie, CEO of Triune, a general contracting company based in Dallas, says business with the government has been shrinking since 2006, and the cliff presents yet another challenge. He’s already been waiting to find out if he’ll get approval to finish a dormitory project for the Department of Labor that’s 95 percent complete.
If no agreement is struck, Fudzie says he’ll have to re-evaluate his business and see if it can find new niches to fill.
“Even in a bad economy, there are pockets that are doing better. We have to figure out, what are we good at?” he says.