Joni Ernst doesn’t speak for my small business

Senator Joni Ernst, a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a small business hearing during the August recess titled “Bridging the Skills Gap: Policies to Help Iowa’s Workers and Small Businesses Thrive”. In Ernst’s press release, she stated this event was meant to examine the steps that Iowa’s small businesses, local employers, schools, and policymakers are taking to address workforce challenges.

Witnesses to the event included Governor Kim Reynolds, the president of the Des Moines Area Community College Rob Denson, and the small businesses that she invited were the president of Fareway, estimated revenue of 1.2 billion and Greetings Inc. with an estimated revenue of 3.8 million. Fareway is a top 10 employer in Iowa, with over 11,000 employees in a five-state region. 

As a truly small business owner in Cedar Rapids, this infuriates me. My senator is trying to convince Iowa’s small business owners, like myself, that her Republican tax cut is for us. And, in hearings where she has the opportunity to listen to small business owners, she brings in businesses dealing with six-figures in revenue. This is not typical for small business owners in Iowa. 

Senator Ernst is using hearings like this to promote the Tax Cuts Jobs Act of 2017, a corporate tax cut for businesses like Fareway and Greetings Inc. And, to bring them in as a voice for small business owners like me to talk about how they benefit is not only misleading but insulting. About 70 percent of businesses are founded with less than $20,000 in capital, and most of this money comes from bank loans and credit cards. Where are the voices of these small businesses in Senator’s Ernst’s hearing? 

And, to go further, with Ernst’s support for the Tax Cuts Jobs Act, low-income Iowans face cuts in Medicaid, Medicare and other vital programs so these businesses can get a “break”. This will not only hurt Iowans but has the potential to harm our small business community by taking away dollars which could be spent locally.

I agree with Senator Ernst when she says, “Iowa’s small businesses are the backbone of our communities.” We truly are. We live and work in our communities. Our children attend local schools. Our employees are local. We are conscientious of how our business impacts and interacts with our local residents. However, Senator Joni Ernst does not represent my small business. Iowans like myself deserve better. I want to be represented by someone who will not only listen to our needs but also won’t pretend to represent a community while supporting actions that say otherwise.

Joni Ernst photo by Gage Skidmore. Available for use under a Creative Commons license. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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