Huffington Post's Taking Mom and Pop to the Cleaners: How the Small Business Lobby Hurts Small Business takes a long, unflattering look at the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
The article's conclusion is that "the NFIB has been less an advocate for small businesses than an arm of the Republican Party." Because of this, the article claims:
"... inside the Beltway, the NFIB's raw partisanship is increasingly isolating it from key policy circles, as lobby groups such as the National Small Business Association, the Main Street Alliance and others expand their influence among entrepreneurs and mom-and-pop enterprises."
Emergent Research (firmly non-partisan) has done a fair amount of policy work. One of the most important lessons we've learned is there are few non-partisan think tanks or trade associations in DC.
The reason is simple. To be successful in DC, you have to have influence with Congress. To have Congressional influence, you need to win the support of one of the parties. Gaining the support of one of the parties is pretty hard to do unless you: (1) support their political positions; (2) donate lots of money; or (3) have very powerful constituents. In most cases all three lead to partisanship.
For example, just as the NFIB is pro-Republican, the Main Street Alliance - mentioned in the Huff Po article as a NFIB alternative - favors the Democrats. If you spend time digging, you'll find lots of Main Street Alliance connections to progressive groups and the Democratic party.
Don't get me wrong, I like the Main Street Alliance. I think they speak for a segment of small businesses and small business owners.
But they're clearly partisan. The Main Street Alliance:
- strongly supports Obama Care.
- wants to eliminate the Bush tax cuts.
- strongly supports legislation and tax increases to restrict greenhouse gases.
Since non-partisan polls consistently show small business owners lean Republican, it's obvious the Main Street Alliance doesn't speak for all small businesses.
Which is my point. The small business sector is too diverse for one "voice of small business." It's not only too politically diverse, but also too diverse in terms of size, types of business and owner interests.
So get used to multiple small business "voices" in DC. Also understand almost all the "voices" coming from DC are partisan. Because of this, be careful which small business organizations you support and make sure your business and personal goals align with their political objectives.