On Thursday, President Bush took his pro-small business, tax-cutting message to the floor of an industrial warehouse in one of the many fast-growing corporate parks of Northern Virginia's Loudon County.
The site was well chosen -- sort of. Loudon County is booming with over 10,000 small businesses, most with fewer than 10 employees. Not long ago, it led the country in job growth at 12%, according to the Labor Department.
That was in 1999-2000, at the tail-end of the Clinton era, long before the Bush administration starting cutting taxes.
Still, it provided a nice backdrop for the president's pitch to extend tax cuts permanently: "If you want there to be job creation to offset the trauma that our economy has been through," Bush told the crowd of several hundred, "then it makes sense to say to the job creators, here is a little more money for you in your pockets."
Some might say 'little' is the operative word. True, small-business owners have long called for tax relief, but are they just "dreamers," as the president dubbed them Thursday morning in Virginia? A study by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities in 2003 found that only 2% of the nation's small business owners, about 180,000, may have actually benefited from Bush's reduction in the top tax rate. What's certain is that more than half received less than $500 in tax breaks, far from the $2,000 touted by the president, the study showed.
Coupled with the Small Business Administration's shrinking budget, along with the agency's failure to meet annual federal contract quotas for small businesses nationwide, it's fair to ask what the president means in calling small business "the centerpiece of our economic policy."