Uncertainty over taxes, national debt, growing government regulation and health care reform is hurting business expansion and job creation in Idaho, some Southwest Idaho business owners and regional business leaders told U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo on Monday.
"We are very concerned about the future," said Lou Aaron, past Idaho chairman of the National Federation of Independent Business and owner of the Westside Drive In at 1939 W. State St.
Aaron said he is concerned about the costs of health care reform and how they could affect his business.
"When you put clamps on us, we tend to get scared," he said. "That's the feeling in our industry right now. We are just scared about everything: all the regulation, the health care act, the Dodd Frank [financial reform] Act."
Several local business owners, a representative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others met with Crapo for about 45 minutes to discuss their concerns. Crapo said participants were selected by his staff and are people with whom his office has worked in the past.
A U.S. Chamber of Commerce study shows that 90 percent of the chamber's small businesses are holding off on on new investments or new hires over concerns about elimination of tax cuts and looming federal budget cuts if Congress can't reach an agreement of deficit reduction by the end of the year.
Business also say the regulatory environment is having a chilling effect on expansion. "In this administration, new regulations that have already been enacted are taking $17 billion a month out of the U.S. economy," said Chris Strow, the northwest region executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Crapo said that what he heard Monday was similar to what he has been hearing constantly.
"We are facing huge problems," he told the Idaho Statesman. "There is a significant amount of money available for capital for expansion of business and employment, but it is largely on the sidelines."
Bill Roberts: 377-6408