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(Reuters)

Please Ask These Small Business Questions Tonight

Dear Maria and Neil,

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I know you two are very busy preparing for tonight’s Republican presidential debate with a lot of questions you’ll be asking the candidates. But I’m a certified public accountant and a small business owner and my company serves over 500 small business clients too. And small businesses have a few questions for you that specifically impact their livelihoods.  

What Will You Do to Specifically Stimulate Growth For Small and Medium Sized Companies?

The recession is now more than five years behind us and most of my small business clients who have recovered are doing better, but not great. They would like to see more demand for their products and services and remember the many years before 2008 when they were growing and more profitable. But since President Obama took office, they’ve struggled to make money. Economic growth in America has been anemic, long since the recession ended. In fact, we have had one of the worst post-recession recoveries ever. What are your plans? More government spending, taxes and regulations? We hope not. What does each presidential candidate believe that government can do (or shouldn’t do) that will grow the economy, create more jobs, increase consumer spending and help stimulate demand for our businesses?

How Will Your Tax Plans Be Funded?

Many of the Republican candidates have introduced their tax plans for their country and the ideas seem exciting. They all want to eliminate “loopholes” and make things “easier.” Jeb Bush proposes raising the standard deduction and lowering corporate and individual rates. Donald Trump wants to lower these rates even more. Marco Rubio supports a flat tax. They all have ideas for bringing back corporate profits left overseas with lowered rates and other one-time tax incentives. It’s easy for the candidates to say they’ll lower taxes, but small business owners, particularly the ones who have been in business as long as I have, know that nothing in life is for free. Sure, I’d like to see some permanent deductions for accelerated depreciation and credits for research and development instead of these annual temporary fixes we suffer every year. And I’d like my rates to go lower. But the reality is that we have a huge Federal government and an enormous deficit so with all your tax savings…where is the revenue going to come from to pay for expenses? Please ask these candidates to describe the other side of the income statement – the expense side.  Ask them to show us how their tax plans fit into the big picture--the entire Federal budget.

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And What About Our National Debt?

What’s the plan? Every business owner I speak to around the country is absolutely terrified at the long term effects that our nation’s $19 trillion debt will have on the economy, our kids, our grand-kids. We’re angry that the national debt has doubled since President Obama took office and that even in a growing economy, we’re still tallying up half a trillion in deficits every year. We run businesses and we know the impact that debt has on our operations. Debts are fine and necessary as long as there’s sufficient debt maintenance, but at some point, the debt has to be brought under control. Are we looking at huge tax increases in the future? Large periods of sequestration and austerity? What effect will this have on markets? On the Fed’s policies? And what does this do to our country if we need to raise funds for national emergencies and can’t because we’ve hit the limit? These are business problems and we’d like to hear some business solutions from the presidential candidates.

Are You Really Going to Repeal the Affordable Care Act? And How Will That Affect Us?

Every small business owner believes that America should have a great healthcare system. Where we differ is on how that’s going to be paid for. The Affordable Care Act, now in its sixth year, has cost billions, with disappointing results. Enrollment is far behind projections, co-ops are going out of businesses, small businesses are staying away from the SHOP exchanges and most importantly: premiums keep rising. Clearly, we’re a ways away from fixing this problem. But we also know that repealing the ACA could be extremely disruptive to the government, the economy and our businesses. Is this a reality? And if you do repeal the ACA (as all of the GOP candidates want to), how will your plan keep premiums under control? And how will what you’re proposing decrease, rather than increase, the uncertainties we already have with this enormous line item on our P&Ls?

What’s Your Position On Government Regulations and My Business?

During the past year we’ve watched the President demand that a higher minimum wage, pay more overtime and offer paid time off. We’ve seen the National Labor Relations Board pass new “quickie unionization” rules and change the definition of employer relationships. We’ve watched the candidates go after Uber and others in the “gig” economy because they’re not providing enough “employee protections” and should be treating their independent contractors as employees. Big companies like Uber can afford to defend themselves. And others like Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN) and LinkedIn (LNKD) can offer months of paid time off without flinching. But small businesses cannot afford this. Please ask the candidates what they will do about these regulations? Should the government determine how much I pay my employees? Or can I be left alone to compete on my terms?  What you say sets the tone about business in America and your government’s attitude towards business.

There are 28 million small businesses out there. And believe me, quite a few of us will be watching tonight.  

FOX Business Network and the Wall Street Journal will present two Republican presidential primary debates in conjunction with the Republican National Committee (RNC) on November 10, 2015. The debates will focus on the economy and be presented live from the Milwaukee Theatre in Milwaukee, WI, on FBN and FOXBusiness.com. Debate coverage begins at 7PM ET.

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