Both Democratic President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney pledge to create jobs and kickstart the economy, but differ on their methods.
For those still on the fence, here's a summary of their stances on issues affecting small business.
The Democratic platform espouses the concept of "insourcing" as a way to jump-start business.
Obama's platform pledges to end tax breaks for companies that "are shipping jobs overseas and for special interests and instead offer tax breaks to companies that are investing right here."
Obama also pledges to reform the corporate tax code to lower rates for companies, with additional incentives for those firms who locate manufacturing and research and development in this country while cutting perks for companies who move jobs overseas.
Another part of the Democratic platform is supporting tax cuts for small businesses that make new investments, hire workers or increase wages.
To spur job creation and boost businesses, Romney pledges to reform the business tax code to allow companies to generate enough capital to grow and create jobs as well as be an advocate for small business. To encourage manufacturing and expansion, Romney says he would create a business environment where adequate financing and credit were available.
The Republican platform calls for a reduction of the corporate tax rate to help keep U.S. companies competitive globally, a repeal of the corporate alternative minimum tax and the establishment of a permanent research and development tax credit. To foster investment in U.S. companies, Republicans vow to start a "territorial system of corporate taxation" where profits earned and taxed overseas may be used in this country for job-creating investment without more levies.
Obama supports reforming current laws to bring "undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and requires them to get right with the law, learn English and pay taxes in order to get on a path to earn citizenship," according to the Democratic Party platform.
The Democrats also pledge to create a system that approves visas that meet the country's economic needs.
Romney supports increasing the number of visas for highly skilled immigrants and those with advanced degrees as a way to bolster this nation's economy and skilled labor force. He also pledged to develop a mandatory employment verification system so employers can be sure their workers are eligible to work in this country. "This will discourage illegal immigrants from coming to America to seek jobs," according to Romney's position website.
The Democrats are touting the Health Care Reform Act and its tax credits to small businesses that offer health insurance to their workers.
As part of health care reform, businesses with more than 50 workers must either offer healthcare coverage or face a $2,000 fine per year per full-time worker past the company's first 30 employees—if one worker is getting a tax credit for health coverage.
Romney, on the other hand, promised to repeal the law.
The Republican also pledges to boost personal responsibility in seeking preventive health services as a way to lower the cost of treating chronic illness.
"Chronic diseases, many of them related to lifestyle, drive healthcare costs, accounting for more than 75 percent of the nation’s medical spending," says the Republican platform.
As a way to foster consumer choice in healthcare and drive insurance costs lower with increased competition, Romney supports insurance portability, health savings and reimbursement accounts and to allow consumers to buy insurance across state lines.
The Republican's platform also pledges to reform the federal Food and Drug Administration to make it easier for companies to invent medical devices and drugs. Another Republican goal is tort reform to minimize medical malpractice lawsuits and reduce costs for doctors.
The Small Business Administration
As part of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, the Small Business Administration is reviewing its definitions of what is a small business and recently expanded its size standards for real estate, educational services and health care/social assistance companies.
By boosting the size definition of a small business, more companies will be eligible for SBA loans and federal contracts.
While in office, Obama has boosted the SBA's budget with much of that money backing loans to small companies.
In his campaign, Romney has pledged to roll back Obama's government expansion and also to cap discretionary spending by 5 percent. Both promises would make it more difficult for small businesses to get SBA loans.
The SBA's funding for small business programs could near $1 billion, almost twice what it was in 2008—the year Romney wants funding rolled back to, according to the New York Times.
Touting trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, Obama promises to continue to push toward doubling exports by 2015.
He also pledges to work to level the international-trade playing field for American companies and fight against unfair trade practices.
Romney pledges full parity in trade with China and would impose levies on China if it didn't change its policies.
The Republican platform calls for the restoration of the presidential Trade Promotion Authority and finalizing a Trans-Pacific Partnership that would open Asian markets to American products.
Not only that, but Romney supports a worldwide free trade agreement that espouses the principles of open markets.
Under federal law, 23 percent of contracts must go to small business. The country has yet to meet that goal.
Romney has pledged to repeal the Davis-Bacon and Related Acts that sets wage requirements for construction projects of more than $2,000.
The GOP campaign also supports a national right-to-work law and a raise act to allow workers to get pay increases without the approval of a union representative.
Based on the most-recent data from 2010, small business received 22.7 percent of federal contract dollars, according to the Associated Press.
During his term, Obama established a task force to strengthen rules for small business contracting requirements and also cut the amount of time for small business contractors to get payment for their work from the federal government.
Obama has also proposed new rules for federal contractors designed to create jobs for disabled Americans. His administration has pledged to hire 100,000 disabled workers by 2015.
Obama pledges to extend clean energy incentives for businesses and cut the approval red tape to build oil and gas lines.
Romney supports encouraging diversified domestic sources of energy, including research and development of technologies for the coal industry. He pledged to put a stop to the federal government's "war on coal" and would foster development of the nation's coal resources.
Which political issues are most important to your business?
Linda is an award-winning journalist with more than more than 22 years' experience as a reporter, editor and blogger. Linda blogs via Contently.com.
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