The Ripon Forum

Volume 0, No. 0

Feb - March 2007 Issue

Standing Up for the Underdogs

By on October 29, 2015 with 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday pic - Zickar standing up for the underdogs - Jan. 21, 2016by LOU ZICKAR

The Republican Party is looking for new ideas that will help them reclaim their Congressional Majority and hold onto the White House in 2008.

After last November’s drubbing at the polls, this is clearly a smart thing to do. But in addition to figuring out what they want to stand for as a party, Republicans also should be thinking about who they want to stand for.

Historically speaking, the party has been most successful when it has taken on the cause of the oppressed.  Lincoln ending slavery. Teddy Roosevelt confronting the robber barons. Ronald Reagan taking on the forces of big government that left millions of people overtaxed and out of work.

The GOP has a proud heritage of standing up for those who are struggling to get ahead. Unfortunately, that heritage has largely been forgotten in recent years.  The party has become identified more with corporate interests than the interests of the common man. It has become known more for flouting the rules than for playing by them. As a result, it has lost that part of its identity most responsible for its past success.

The challenge now is to get that part of its identity back. A logical place to start is with individuals who are trying to start their own small business. Entrepreneurs are the natural underdogs of the American economy. They are like Rocky Balboa – putting it all on the line to pursue a dream that may or may not come true. Most entrepreneurs fail; according to the Small Business Administration, 56% of small business owners close up shop within the first four years of opening their doors. 

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Entrepreneurs are like Rocky Balboa – putting it all on the line to pursue a dream that may or may not come true.

The GOP needs to be on the side of people with the deck stacked against them in life. Standing with entrepreneurs will help them do just that. But it makes sense for other reasons as well.

First, there are more entrepreneurs today than at any other time. According to the Kauffman Foundation, over 10 million adults are attempting to create a new business at any given time. These individuals need to know that the Republican Party is in their corner.

Second, entrepreneurs are increasingly diverse.  Women start 1,600 new  businesses in the country each day.  A growing percentage of entrepreneurs are immigrants.  Baby boomers are turning their backs on retirement and starting their own companies instead. The younger generation – Generation Y – is the most entrepreneurial ever, pursuing opportunities that combine their interest in business with their knowledge of technology. Promoting entrepreneurship provides the GOP with an opportunity to promote ideas that cut across demographic lines.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, entrepreneurs are philosophically in tune with Republicans when it comes to their view of government. They just want to be left alone – the less government intrusion, the better.  If government is going to do anything, it should create conditions that will help their business – and their business talents – flourish.

Over the past several years, President Bush and Congressional Republicans have recognized this by pushing measures to reduce taxes, cut red tape, and make it easier for the self-employed to obtain health insurance.  They have also on occasion sought to highlight entrepreneurial success stories.  In his State of the Union Address this past January, for example, the President recognized Julie Aigner-Clark, the founder of an educational video company that was started 10 years ago and is earning over $200 million in sales today.

There are millions of other Americans who are trying to accomplish what Julie Aigner-Clark has done. Some are barely making it; many others are still trying to get ahead. Republicans should do everything they can to help them in their fight and make the stories of their struggles their own. Among other things, this means holding firm on efforts to roll back tax relief and reimpose regulations that will stifle business growth. It also means continuing to look for innovative policy solutions that will help entrepreneurs deal with the problems they face.

Congressmen Don Manzullo (R-IL) and Earl Pomeroy (D-ND) have sponsored a bill that would achieve that goal. Called the Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE) Act, the bill would create a 25% tax credit for accredited angel investors who invest in qualified small businesses. The bill is modeled after similar legislation already on the books in 21 states and is intended to provide entrepreneurs with the one thing every business needs – money.

It is the kind of smart government, common sense solution entrepreneurs are looking for from Washington.  It’s also the kind of idea that Republicans, in their search for new ideas, should embrace.   RF


Lou Zickar is the Editor of the Ripon Forum.

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