Feb. 1, 2011
So, now we have the President’s new “Startup America” campaign, which is designed to foster small business growth and job creation. We also have Business.usa.gov, which is a one-stop shop for “small business resources and geographic data.” This, of course, is distinct from SBA.gov, which helps small businesses “find local resources, explore programs and services, and achieve your business goals.” Which is different than the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization; the Department of Labor has an office of the same name, too, just to be clear – and also than Commerce’s International Trade Administration’s Sustainable Manufacturing Initiative’s Sustainable Business Clearinghouse and Commerce’s Grants, Contracting, and Trade Opportunities initiative. Small businesses can also get help from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Small Business Mentor-Protege Program and Small Business Program Manual, where among other things we learn that “small businesses are important to the United States.” And, of course, there are HHS’s Small Business Program, its Small Disadvantaged Business Program, its HUBZone Program, its Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program, its various Outreach Activities, its Vendor Outreach Session and its Small Business Competitive Demonstration Program.
There are more such programs, sprinkled throughout the federal government like coriander seeds in a large muffin. Unconsolidated, confusing, arguably unconstitutional, costly, and a tribute to government’s well-intended eagerness to do what it was never intended to do: Interfere with market-based job creation.
A rational tax and regulatory regime, combined with expanded child and R&D tax credits and an end to the estate, or “death,” tax, would enable smaller firms to thrive more effectively. Policies that strengthen families (again, breaks for children, adoption, and charitable donations) and encourage growth instead of penalizing it aren’t a bad idea, either.
Mr. Obama and his Administration can try to foster the risk-taking, innovation and opportunity they rightfully believe are necessary to create jobs through yet more government-based programs. But they cannot create the dynamism of the open market from a bureaucratic, administrative, procedural and regulatory state. It is to the benign wisdom of that state, versus the clear-minded energy of the American people, that Mr. Obama and his aides have pledged their troth. And that’s why this latest iteration of “I’m from Washington and I want to help you” just won’t work.