Presidential Candidates Spar Over Small Business (Again)

Small business took center stage again during Tuesday night’s presidential debate.
Business Writers
October 17, 2012

It may not have trended on Twitter (“binders of women,” we’re looking at you), but small business once again took center stage during Tuesday night’s presidential debate.

The first mention of small business came early in the night, when President Barack Obama answered the first question about creating jobs.

Obama talked up both his plan to build manufacturing jobs and the jobs already created during his term.

“We are helping them, and small businesses to export around the world in new markets,” Obama said of his tax plan.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney’s first mention of small business came during a discussion of his tax plan.

“Fifty-four percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals. So when you bring those rates down, those small businesses are able to keep more money and hire more people,” he said.

Obama’s response? He contended that Romney’s tax plan did not add up—and that it would “blow up” the deficit by $7 to $8 trillion.

Obama reminded voters that he’d cut taxes for small businesses 18 times during his term, and that he was willing to do so again, but couldn’t because of gridlock in Congress.

Later in the debate, the pair specifically addressed corporate taxes. Both want to lower the corporate tax rate, but disagree on how it should be done.

Obama said his plan would close loopholes that allow companies to deduct expenses when they move to China—loopholes that allow them to profit offshore. He claimed Romney wanted to expand tax breaks for companies that take jobs overseas.

“One of his big ideas when it comes to corporate tax reform would be to say, ‘If you invest overseas, you make profits overseas, you don’t have to pay U.S. taxes.’ But of course if you’re a small business or a mom-and-pop business or a big business starting up here, you’ve got to pay even the reduced rate that Governor Romney’s talking about. And it’s estimated that that will create 800,000 new jobs. Problem is, they’ll be in China or India or Germany. That’s not the way we’re going to create jobs here.”

Romney called Obama’s description of his tax plan “completely false.”

“We have to make America the most attractive place for entrepreneurs, for people who want to expand a business,” he said. “That’s what brings the jobs in.”

Photo: Getty Images