Paul Ryan on GOP Ticket: Good for Small Business?

Elizabeth Thompson likens being a small business owner in today’s regulatory environment to swimming the English Channel. Thompson’s company, BFFL co. sells overnight recovery bags to patients and hospitals.

“It feels impossible, and completely discouraging,” Thompson said. “Dealing with the FDA right now, I cry sometimes with the issues I come up against trying to navigate the system.”

And presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s choice of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his running mate didn’t do much to ease Thompson’s concerns. While Thompson, who is also a radiation oncologist, said her vote is still up for grabs in this year’s election, the Romney-Ryan ticket feels less business-friendly.

“My gut goes toward the Democratic candidate,” she said. “But knowing what Romney did in Massachusetts, and how he was in support of social programs that were quite important, he is not as polarizing an alternative to Obama. I don’t think he is quite as crash-and-burn as many Republicans have presented themselves, but Ryan is.”

With just three months till the general election, the campaign trial is getting dirtier and hotter. The Obama camp claims Romney is too “big-business” due to his work with Bain Capital, while the Romney camp is pointing to Obama’s controversial “you didn’t build that,” statements to show small business owners the president is out-of-touch with their needs and concerns.

Beltway insiders say House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan, a Tea Party favorite and Congressman for the past 15 years, is known best for his “Ryan Budget,” which emphasizes scaling back government social programs like food stamps and also cutting federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid. The budget would cut the deficit by $3 trillion more than the president’s plan and spending by $5 trillion more than the Obama budget, according to the House Budget Committee Website.

Ray Keating, chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, said that while the group is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates, he believes Ryan is a nice addition to the Republican ticket. Keating said the congressman has a solid track record and comes from the pro-growth wing of the Republican Party.

“He understands the impact of taxes and regulation on small business and entrepreneurship,” he said. “He reduces the taxes on taxing risks.”

The “risks” Keating refers to would seemingly be taken by those making more than $250,000 annually, a group that President Obama has sought to raise taxes on. Ryan’s budget would make the Bush Era tax cuts on this high-income group permanent, according to the House Budget Committee site.

Those tax cut extension are the exact reason lawyer and entrepreneur Jamie James is looking forward to voting for Romney/Ryan in November. James, who sells the “Cellfolio” from her site, said since becoming an entrepreneur she has become increasingly concerned with the ongoing debate over taxes.

“My product is an ‘extra,’ it’s not a necessity like food,” James said. “Having to buy an additional product increases costs. I am not in favor of increasing taxes for the wealthy, because the wealthy are the people creating jobs. They are helping the economy so more people have the ability to purchase products, rather than just everyday needs.”

James also says Ryan is a stong veep pick because he wants to reform government assistance plans and also reign in Medicare and Medicaid spending.

“With Obama, there is no structure in regard to unemployment and food stamps,” she said. “There’s no deadline, and the wealthy are paying for all of this.”

On the flip side, Keating said Ryan is in favor of reigning in spending, another concern for small businesses because it wipes out some of that “uncertainty” so many entrepreneurs feel is holding them back.

“Ryan has been at the forefront of trying to reign in [government] growth and spending,” he said. “His proposal is at a smaller rate of growth than the president’s.”

Ron Bonjean, Republican strategist and partner at Singer Bonjean Strategy, said in his first week as a vice presidential candidate Ryan immediately reached out to the small business community.

“Every time he gives a stump speech on the trail, he keeps saying, ‘You did build that,’” Bonjean said. “That is an immediate signal to the small business community that he understands their issues and challenges, and would promote a small business agenda.”

Ryan’s budget and record are both consistently pro-small business, Bonjean said. Like Keating, Bonjean said Ryan’s budget enforces cuts and he brings that mentality to the Republican ticket. Fiscal certainty will help to bolster small business hiring, he said.

“Regarding regulatory relief and tax relief that small businesses have needed, he has voted completely in support of small businesses,” he said. “[Ryan] gives a great speech and has the record to back it up, which is something Obama just can’t do.”