This week is National Veterans Small Business Week – a wonderful intersection between small businesses who keep our local economies thriving and our nation’s veterans who have sacrificed so much to keep our nation free. There are more than 350,000 veteran-owned businesses in this country, and they provide an estimated 4 million jobs. Not only have these people served our nation honorably, but they are now serving our communities each and every day and are helping to keep our local economies going.
Yesterday, I had the honor of hosting a roundtable and showcase for veteran-owned businesses in the United States Capitol. Fourteen small business owners who all served our country traveled to Washington, D.C. to showcase their businesses and participate in a roundtable discussion with my Congressional colleagues and myself. We were extremely fortunate to have two veteran-owned businesses from the Third District make the trip for this event. Brian Bufka served our country in the United States Navy and owns 1st Place Printing in Montgomery City. Brian and his wife operate their commercial printing company themselves and specialize in banners, logos, graphics – you name it. We were also lucky to have Four Brothers Mead from Festus join the showcase. This company consists of two brothers, their brother-in-law and their brother from their military service. While mead is lesser known, they make this all-natural beverage from honey and call it “drink fit for the battle-hardened warrior.” Both companies have great stories to share about military members using the experiences and skills they learned in the service to run a successful business.
Hearing from these veterans provided incredible insight regarding what has gone well for small business owners in the last year and what needs improving. Many of the attendees praised the PPP because it provided a lifeline for them during the pandemic and allowed them to keep their workers paid. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of policies making life hard for many of them. For example, we heard from a veteran who owns a bakery in Louisiana who specialized in the Mardi Gras-style King Cakes. For anyone not familiar, there is always a tiny plastic baby in each cake and whoever finds the baby has to buy the next cake. This veteran and business owner said he has 1 million plastic babies sitting on a cargo ship in California. While the idea of a plastic figure being delayed might not seem consequential on the surface, they represent 1 million cakes not being made. Selling those cakes is how he and his workers pay their mortgages and feed their families. These supply chain interruptions and labor shortages – caused in large part by bad government policies that discourage work and prevent additional trucking options – have very real and very negative effects on the lives of everyday Americans.
The biggest concern we heard was the endless threat of more taxes and government regulation. With the Democrats’ socialist spending bill changing almost daily, veteran-owned businesses, just like all small businesses, have no way to plan for the future. They don’t know where the next threat is coming from, how much money they’ll be able to reinvest in their companies, or even if they’ll be able to maintain their workforce. The most recent horrible idea threatening U.S. businesses is the Made in America Tax. In the wake of the pandemic where our nation rallied around our beloved small businesses who are the backbone of our communities, Democrats in Washington want to tax American companies at a higher rate than foreign competitors. Yes, you unfortunately read that right: Democrats are incentivizing American companies to move jobs and production overseas by increasing taxes on companies who manufacture their products on American soil. It’s a disgrace.
If the notion of taxing people out of business or being wholly reliant on foreign countries for the products we need every day isn’t enough to cause my colleagues to change course, I hope they’ll at least think about these companies during National Veterans Small Business Week. Upon becoming adults, these people answered the call to serve this country and put all of our lives in front of their own. Once their military service ended, they began serving their communities by putting it all on the line to build a company and contribute to the local economy. If anyone deserves the economic freedom America was built on, it’s them. Hopefully we can at least all agree on that.
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