This week I was fortunate to travel to speak with some great entrepreneurs in Kalamazoo. Whenever I do a book signing, I speak for about 10 minutes and then open up the floor for discussion. The organizers normally have to wrap it up because these discussions could go for hours.
I find that all the of questions I am asked have one central message- “Where is Washington? ” Small businesses are getting the life squeezed out of them as the banks turn off the loan spiket. I had one person in Kalamazoo tear up as she asked me why doesn’t the government try and help small businesses? I tell my audiences based on my conversations with some of the leaders of industry that the government right now is at a tug of war between the Obama Administration and the FDIC. The administration wants and has publicly urged banks to lend to small business yet, the FDIC’s regulators are telling the banks they can’t lend to them because small businesses pose a risk. I have had CEOs tell me they are stuck and there is nothing they can do. Their regulators are the ones who set the rules.
During my book tour I have been often asked why is Washington out of touch? I respond very matter of factly, many of these politicans in DC are career politicans. Some have been in Congress for decades. Have they ever held a *real* job? Have they ever had to balance their checkbooks and wonder if they will be able to pay all their bills this month? Where they can trim the fat of an already lean balance sheet? The answer for many is no.
Richard LeFrak who is in my book made a comment that has stuck with me since I met him. LeFrak said the day Congress went full time was the day they put air conditioning in the Capitol. Remember when our country was founded it was a part time job. Of course times were simpler then but LeFrak does have a point.
The bubble enclosing DC needs to be popped and a reality check needs to be made. Platitudes and I feel for you candor are just words for the millions of small businesses and out of work Americans that are trying to make ends meet. After speaking in several states from different cross sections in our great country is seems the populist anger is shifting from Wall Street to Washington. We elect our officials to be our voice in DC. When was the last time you felt your voice was heard? It’s apparent from the hundreds of business people I have met on my book tour don’t feel that way.
Its time the voice of the small business man is heard.