Obama, Romney and the question of small business job creation

Is it any wonder that Jennifer Westacott, chief executive at the Business Council of Australia, called for a 50% cull in ministerial advisors yesterday? The gap between their salaries and those on the dole is becoming as wide as the gap between presidential candidate Mitt Romney and the US electorate.

There is a growing divide between treasury and economic rationalists who want to cut budgets and force more people onto the dole and small business and community leaders seeking genuine job creation promotion.

The insensitivity of our political leaders here and abroad is noticeable, with Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten indicating that he finds it difficult to live on $900 a day whilst increasing the gap between pensioners and those on allowances stuck below the poverty line on less than $40.

Yesterday a parliamentary committee urged the Gillard government to delay plans to shift 100,000 sole parents onto the lower Newstart allowance until a Senate committee reports on the adequacy of the allowance. If parents fail to find work before their youngest child turns six when the change comes into effect in July 2013, they will be forced onto the dole, which is about $60 a week less than the single parenting payment to save more than $685 million over four years.

US presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is being challenged on his claims to address the needs of small business and the poor. While the nation’s economy grew and the median income rose, under Romney’s watch as governor, Massachusetts plummeted from 36th to 47th out of 50 states in job creation, and the median income declined.

The devastating reference to 47% of the electorate being “victims” and subsequent claim to want to represent the 100% have further highlighted the sense that he is out of touch with his own constituency. “My job is not to worry about those people,” Mitt Romney said. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

The question of jobs is central to Election 2012. Mitt Romney claims President Obama has been a failure, while Obama says he’s presided over steady growth. Small business across the nation is looking for evidence that either candidate has a serious plan to do more than increase Wall Street liquidity with mortgage purchases.

As in Australia, the official fudging of the definition of employment as one hour’s work in the last month is masking massive unemployment and underemployment of people who are true job seekers. Penny Wong has refused in the Senate to confirm her earlier acceptance that the real level of unemployment is masked by these international definitions.

President Barack Obama leads Republican challenger Mitt Romney by 47% to 39% in a new survey of small business owners. The survey of 6,145 small business owners was conducted by the George Washington University School of Political Management and Thumbtack.com. Of this sample of likely voters, 32% identified themselves as Democrats, 29% as Republicans and 39% as independents.

The economy/job creation was the most important issue in this election for 40% of these small business owners. That was followed by 13% who named ethics/honesty/corruption in government.

Despite Obama’s lead on small business issues, the survey found that only 20% agree that health care reform helped their businesses, and 41% disagree. While 39% of small business owners thought Obama was the candidate most supportive of small businesses, compared with 32% who named Romney.

Only 3% said taxes were the most important issue.

When asked specifically about economic issues, unemployment came out on top at 27%, followed by the federal deficit at 16%, and health care costs at 10%. The survey found that nearly 15% of small business owners haven’t decided who is going to get their vote.

There is no doubt that Wayne Swan is having the battle of his life to retain his wafer thin budget surplus but there is increasing concern that he is not in touch with the calamitous collapse in small business job creation. Around the world the struggle between those who want further cuts in national budgets and those seeking to increase effective demand will become an increasingly significant poll indicator.

Dr Colin Benjamin is an entrepreneurship and strategic thinking consultant at Marshall Place Associates, which offers a range of strategic thinking tools that open up a universe of new possibilities for individuals and organisations committed to applying the processes of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Colin is also a member of the global Association of Professional Futurists.

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