- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Small-business owners have grown more confident in the economy since President Trump took office, according to a national trade association, but they are closely watching Washington and growing impatient for progress on the president’s agenda.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses’ Index of Small Business Optimism ticked up 1.6 points last month to 105.2, preserving the surge in optimism that started the day after Mr. Trump’s upset win in November.

The businesses in the survey reported increased confidence on nearly every front, saying they expected higher sales and planned to hire more workers, increase inventories and expand their business.

“Those are all signs of good health. It’s driven mostly by strong consumer demand,” said Jack Mozloom, communications director for NFIB.

The bustling economy has been Mr. Trump’s chief claim to a success as his legislative agenda remains mired in Congress.

The stock market closed down Wednesday amid fears of global unrest a day after Mr. Trump vowed to hit North Korea with “fire and fury” if the rogue nation continued its threatening behavior.

Still, NFIB members strongly favor Mr. Trump’s agenda for deregulation, tax reform and repealing Obamacare, and they are painfully aware of the lack of progress of everything but regulations, said Mr. Mozloom.

“Our members responded measurably to his agenda, but that optimism will fade if there’s no real action,” he said. “Tax reform is our members’ top priority. They strongly support his plan, which calls for a lower, single tax rate for all businesses.”

Corporations are currently taxed at a lower top rate than pass-through businesses, which account for 75 percent of small businesses. They pay the same tax rates as any other worker.

Mr. Trump proposed a simpler tax code with fewer income brackets, lower rates and fewer deductions. He would slash rates to 15 percent for a variety of earners, including pass-through businesses. That’s the same rate he proposed for corporations.

Capitol Hill Republicans continue to finalize the tax reform plan. However, there are doubts about the GOP-run Congress’ ability to push through major reforms after the death of the health care bill in the Senate.

Mr. Trump has championed small business.

“America is on the verge of a golden age for small business,” he said last week at a White House event with more than 100 small business owners.

The event was part of the Trump administration’s “American Dream Week” that highlighted his economic agenda and the growth of small business on his watch.

Mr. Trump told the business owners that the administration was committed to their success.

“You are the dreamers and innovators who are powering us into the future — that’s exactly what you are — and my administration will be there with you every single step of the way,” he said.

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