US Presidential Campaign Divides Small Business Owners in Key Battleground State

Chris Simkins
In U.S presidential politics, Democrat Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, have championed small-business growth as a way to fuel an economic recovery in the United States. In the southern state of North Carolina, where both men are popular, small business owners are deeply divided over which candidate can best address their needs.

Larry Guinn manufactures de-mountable interior wall partitions at his factory in Summerfield, North Carolina.  He worries about the future.

"I am not going to hire many people. I just see more and more unemployment in the country, and that is not good for America," Guinn said.

Not far away in Greensboro, immigration lawyer Jeremy McKinney prepares to defend another client in court.  He thinks the country is on the right course.

"From out vantage point I do not see any reason to change the captain of the ship," McKinney said.

Both men are small business owners, but on opposite ends of the political divide when it comes to presidential politics and which candidate has the right plan to drive economic growth.  Guinn, a Republican, supports Mitt Romney over President Obama.

"If we do not get someone in there who knows and understands how businesses operate and what is required of them to be profitable and stay in business, I am not sure how much longer small businesses are going to be able to hang on," Guinn said.

Jeremy McKinney, a Democrat, credits President Obama's policies for the current economic recovery.  He says his firm suffered its worse financial year in 2008, but now times are better.

"Each year we have been able to climb back.  And this year has been our best year ever in the history of this law firm.  We can see the president and this administration and its policies creating this economic recovery in action," McKenney said.

Guinn says Romney's plan to cut corporate taxes will allow small business owners to hire more workers.  But he worries President Obama's health-care reform law will cost his company more, because he currently does not provide health insurance for his workers.

"If I am at the point where I have to furnish insurance for all the employees that I would put on my solid payroll, I would almost have to use more casual [part-time] workers because I just could not afford the insurance program and still stay in business and make a profit," Guinn said.

McKinney says the health-care law is already helping his business by providing tax credits to offset the costs of health-care coverage for his employees.

"With less than 50 employees we pay a lot more for our health insurance than large employers.  That will hopefully change in 2014 as we combine with other small businesses to negotiate health-care contracts with insurance companies," McKinney said.

Both small business owners are hoping for better times, but they paint the upcoming presidential contest as a stark choice between two competing visions of economic vitality.

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