On the seventh episode of Healing America with Dr. Jim White, Dr. White welcomed Elliot Richardson. Mr. Richardson is the Co-Founder and President of the Small Business Advocacy Council, and a partner at the law firm of Korey Richardson LLP. On October 13th, White and Richardson discussed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on small businesses:
October 13, 2020
JW: What is the SBAC?
ER: SBAC stands for the Small Business Advocacy Council. We’re an organization that was founded about 10 years ago, to provide a voice to the small business community and to fight for and advocate for small businesses. We are nonpartisan and policy driven. We believe Republican businesses, Democratically-owned businesses – all businesses need good common sense policies that will help them succeed, especially during this pandemic. We need to provide small businesses with the tools they need to make it through the pandemic, and hopefully recover.
JW: We’re 21 days until the general election, what is your perspective on the election and the current political environment?
ER: Unfortunately, I don’t think small business and local businesses will look at what’s happening on the national stage and feel extremely confident in our political establishment. We hear a lot of partisan bickering, and fighting, and finger pointing when right now what small businesses need is good policy. We need laws, we need relief, we need another stimulus package that truly gets to the heart of what small businesses need. So when you look at the presidential race, and you look at what’s being discussed, there’s a lot of mudslinging going on, but not a lot of policy. If you want small businesses to grow, we need the confidence of knowing the government is going to help us out. I don’t think the small business community is happy on either side.
“We need laws, we need relief, we need another stimulus package that truly gets to the heart of what small businesses need.”
— Elliot Richardson.
JW: In your opinion, why did the stimulus package stall in congress?
ER: Politics. There are 56 sponsors of the RESTART Act. The RESTART Act would do much more than the CARES Act did. There are 56 sponsors in the Senate for a bill that would truly help small businesses. Why hasn’t a stimulus package passed? The ideas are out there, the policies are out there, but politics has stopped it from moving forward.
JW: Do you see any potential action on the stimulus package prior to November 3? What needs to happen to get the politics out of the way?
ER: I’m not confident anything will be done before the election. Anything’s possible, but what we can do goes back to how loudly we can speak. Small businesses feel like they’re on an island, like they’re fighting to stay. It’s tough to engage. That’s what organizations like ours are all about. How do we aggregate, and how do we make our voices heard? Until we do, then I think we’re always not going to have that seat at the table. We need that seat at the table.
JW: What is your organization doing now in order to continue to get your voices heard?
ER: We’re taking action on a federal, state, and local level. Here in Illinois, we’re pushing a tax credit that would provide an incentive to small businesses that have retrained and hired folks. There’s a lot of people that need to make a pivot. We’re pushing that legislation on the state level to make that tax credit a reality. We’re pushing occupational license reform. It takes 1500 hours of education to become a barber in Illinois. The act simply keeps people out of entering professions in a time when we need to offer lots of opportunities to people. On the federal level, we’re really pushing to annotate the RESTART Act to get relief to local businesses.
JW: While we’re working on policies, what can we do today to help small businesses?
ER: When the pandemic had really started, and we were looking at what we could really do in Springfield, we had a coalition of organizations that wanted to defer sales taxes. Not forgive sales tax payments, but defer sales taxes so that retailers, restaurants, and other folks could keep that money right now to keep them afloat. Government sometimes wants to take in that money and give it out as grants. They want to take that money and form lotteries to see who’s going to get the money. The first thing I would do is look at laws, look at passing legislation that would allow businesses to keep some money in their pockets. Frankly, I think that was the wrong approach. I would have allowed every business to defer sales tax instead of paying those sales taxes and then giving grants out to certain businesses. In that way you’re really picking winners and losers. So, allow people to keep some of their money as they try to make it through the pandemic. The second thing is to pass that stimulus, put some capital into the hands of small businesses and mid-size businesses to keep them going, in not such a restrictive way as the CARES Act. Because the CARES Act really did not work for a lot of businesses.
JW: If you were speaking to a group of up and coming politicians, what advice would you give them?
ER: I would say that there will be a time when things will come back around. To good common sense policy driven politics. All of the name calling, all of the stuff that’s going on right now, things are cyclical, and that can’t last forever.
Catch Jim and Elliot’s entire interview at authorjimwhite.com/webinars and be sure to order your copy of Broken America. Next week Dr. White will be interviewing Dr. Dov Snow, Clinical health psychologist and Publisher of The Chicago Jewish Home, Chicagoland’s largest Jewish newspaper.