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Guest Opinions

Opinion by Sen. John Barrasso

Written by Sen. John Barrasso

 In Wyoming, most of the businesses we have are small businesses. Whether it’s the local bakery, tire shop or a family-owned farm or ranch – these businesses were started by men and women with dreams and with determination. They work hard every day to keep their businesses running in tough economic times and have tried to expand and create jobs in their communities. So imagine their surprise when President Obama recently proclaimed in a campaign speech that, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” 

 If the President would take the time to talk with business owners in Wyoming and across the country – the person with the car wash or the local movie theater owner – he would recognize they have worked extremely hard to build their own businesses. If he toured rural Wyoming, he would hear from the farmers and ranchers who work sunup to sundown everyday just to keep their operations going. The President would find that these people aren’t looking for a government handout, however they don’t think their government should be hostile toward them. 

 On top of insulting America’s job creators, the President and Washington Democrats are burying them under more regulations, under more red tape and increased taxes. Recently, 51 Senate Democrats voted to increase taxes on small businesses. According to a recent Ernst & Young report, these tax increases will hit almost 1 million job creators, slash 710,000 jobs and cut wages by nearly two percent. 

 One of the most detrimental taxes the Senate Democrats included in their proposal is the death tax. They voted to bring back the cost of the death tax to the levels of the Clinton administration – where anything over $1 million in assessed value will be taxed at 55 percent. This tax combined with increased land prices will result in many small business owners struggling to keep their ranches and farms in the family. On Wyoming farms and ranches we often see a member of the family is forced to work in town just to make the money to pay the expenses of keeping the operation of the farm or the ranch going. Under the death tax, if the owner of the farm or ranch were to die, their family’s chances of being able to hold on to that operation are reduced to almost nothing. The only solution for many is to sell. 

 If the death tax is allowed to stand, many farming and ranching families will be forced out of theirlivelihoods. Our country cannot afford for this to happen. Congress will continue to debate and vote on the death tax and other tax proposals in the coming months. It’s crucial that Washington starts listening to the concerns of America’s small businesses and farming and ranching communities who overwhelmingly oppose this tax on their way of life. In the Senate, I will fight to block Washington from reinstating the death tax and from raising taxes on anyone in the middle of a bad economy.