OTR Interviews

Are small businesses in Obama's crosshairs during his second term?

President Obama, the Next 4 Years: The Economy - Small business owners leery of president's second term


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 22, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: During the campaign, some say President Obama took a direct aim at business owners, making comments like, You didn't build that. Well, yes, that did make business owners mad, or at least some of them. So what are their expectations for a second Obama administration.

Nick Balletta is the CEO of TalkPoint, a new media technology company. He joins us. Nice to see you again, Nick.

NICK BALLETTA, TALKPOINT CEO: Hey, Greta. Thanks for having me back.

VAN SUSTEREN: So tell me -- put on your thinking cap and tell me what's going to happen to business in year 2013?

BALLETTA: Well, right now, the election's over, and small business owners are waiting for the other shoe to drop. We see the president has gone out and met with big labor. The president has gone out and spoke to CEOs of very large corporations. He's gone out and met with Congress. But noticeably missing from that equation is anybody from small business.

So what I've learned in Washington, if you don't have a seat at big boy table, you're probably going to be on the menu. And the reality is that small business was very popular during the campaign. We were in the spotlight. But how quickly we moved out of the spotlight and have moved into the crosshairs. So I'm afraid that small business is going to be sacrificial lamb as we go through this process over the next 8 to 10 weeks.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, it's really dumb not to talk to small business. (INAUDIBLE) all through the campaign, we hear about how the small business is the engine of the economy. It's sort of like passing health care legislation and not talking to the doctors and the nurses and the patients, instead paying attention to the lobbyists and the politicians.

You know, it's astounding that -- I know that the president met with labor and he met with corporate -- big business. Why do you think he wouldn't meet with small business? It just seems like a smart thing to hear what they have to say.

BALLETTA: Yes, I think our finger is on the pulse. We're the growth engine for the country from an economic perspective. And what he needs to hear is that there's a new normal in small business.

Historically, we always plan for the worst and hope for the best. Now we plan for the worst and hope for less worse. So we've really lowered our expectations. And there's real data in the marketplace to point to that. My health care costs are going up 19 percent next year. Energy costs are going through the roof as the coal industry is put under attack. We're an Internet technology company and we're big consumers of electricity. Our electricity costs have gone up 20, 30 percent year over year for the last four years.

So you know, we have -- we have a good perspective on -- on, you know, what's going to happen in the economy. And we have to operate with -- with what we see. And that's the less worse scenario.

The worst case scenario coming down the pike is that we're looking at 40 percent business tax rate for small businesses. When you have an environment where China has a 25 percent business tax rate, in America, small business has a 40 percent tax rate, that's not good for small business. That's not good for hiring. And instead of us using those -- that -- those proceeds to hire more folks or to give out raises or to invest in the business, we're just sending the money to Washington.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think the president isn't talking more to small business? And why do you think he's not thinking about the impact of a tax increase on small business? I mean, set aside the so-called -- the wealthy, but the impact on small businesses. Why isn't he looking at that?

BALLETTA: I honestly think he doesn't understand. I don't think he's got a small business background. He's a law professor. He's been a community organizer, all very noble professions, but he's never actually made a payroll or run a small business.

And in our -- and the dynamic set up in Washington right now is really to put restraints on growth and expansion. If you have a small business right now with 40 employees, you're really disincented to get to 50 because if you get to 50 employees, then you're subject to the rules and regulations and taxes and penalties of ObamaCare. If you have 60 employees, you're going to cut 10 to get below 50 so that you don't have to suffer those rules and regulations. And then...


BALLETTA: And then ultimately, if you expand from a profit perspective on the P&L side, the last thing you want is your profits to get north of $200,000 or $250,000 because then you're going to get hit twice. One, you're going to move into a higher tax bracket, the 40 percent small business tax bracket, and also, "Obama care" has an increase in your capital gains tax to 3.8 percent. That's hidden.

There are -- there are $800 billion of taxes coming down the pike associated with "Obama care" that are already written into the law. So we have to maneuver around those. And small business owners are smart. We're going to maneuver. And as you stated earlier, even if they get the $800 billion from small business over the next 10 years, that's $80 billion a year, you said it funded government for a few days. It actually funds the deficit for about 22 days.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it -- it -- from small business people, it doesn't seem like a very sort of optimistic picture. And the president needs to figure out what he's going to do about small businesses because if -- if we -- if we put a clamp on them, we're going to have engine -- we're going to have growth problems with our economy.

But I'm going to take the last word on that. Nick, thank you.

BALLETTA: Thanks, Greta.