3 Questions for U.S. Sen. Michael Enzi

Date: November 15, 2013

As a former small business owner, are there certain skills or perspectives that you apply as a public official?

I’m one of only a few senators who have run a business. I ran a shoe business, NZ Shoes, with my wife, Diana, for a number of years, where I gained invaluable insight into the nuts and bolts of running a business. I also learned a lot about customer service, which has been a real help in my public service role. Crunching numbers, balancing ledgers and making tough financial decisions are all things I have learned and practiced.

I’ve used these experiences countless times in my own legislative efforts—from my Penny Plan, which would cut one penny of every federal dollar spent and balance the federal budget in two years, to my work in the Committee on Finance, which had main jurisdiction over the healthcare law. 

I think if more members of Congress had experience running a business, we’d have fewer folks supporting measures that have an adverse effect on the nation’s job creators.

How can small business owners get relief under the healthcare law?

I have opposed the healthcare law from the beginning. I voted against it in two committees and again on the Senate floor. I strongly support a full repeal, but I also support efforts to defund or dismantle the law in parts. 

One big problem with the law is the sales tax on health insurance premiums, which, along with other taxes and fees, will increase costs for businesses and penalize employers who offer coverage now or who want to expand their workforce. To address this problem, I co-sponsored legislation that would repeal the health insurance tax. I have also asked the U.S. Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service to provide detailed information on the economic impact of the HIT. And we must continue to protect the ability of small businesses to self-insure or obtain reinsurance where necessary.

Small business owners need to remember that silence implies consent. They can band together and speak out when they believe this law or any law is hurting them, and they can advocate for change.

In what ways are you seeking feedback from small businesses in Wyoming and then using that information in Washington, D.C.? 

I travel back to Wyoming most every weekend to visit businesses. I talk with business owners about what they do, how they do it and how federal regulations and other federal policies are directly affecting them. I’ve heard their concerns about increasing government regulations and complying with the healthcare law.

I also coordinate with a variety of groups to help produce two small business conferences every year. One helps small businesses learn best practices for continued growth and provides training on procuring federal contracts. The second is an inventor’s conference that educates Wyoming entrepreneurs about the patent process and business planning. I know a lot of folks who have great ideas in Wyoming, and I want them to be able to turn their ideas into a business.

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