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PostPosted: 25 Jan 2011, 14:12 
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Throughout Wednesday's House floor debate over the repeal of President Barack Obama's signature health care overhaul, Republicans frequently claimed that the 2010 law will cost the U.S. economy 1.6 million jobs if it isn't rolled back. They were citing a statistic from an organization that -- on the surface -- is as unimpeachable a source in Washington as can be found: The National Federation of Independent Businesses, a lobbying heavyweight which dubs itself "The Voice of Small Business."

Yet for the past two years, the NFIB has been less an advocate for small businesses than an arm of the Republican Party. When the interests of the GOP and the needs of small firms have collided, the NFIB has repeatedly sided with Republicans, jeopardizing billions of dollars in credit, tax benefits and other federal subsidies that are critical to the small enterprises that form the backbone of the U.S. economy. Key legislative priorities for small businesses were delayed, diluted or abandoned -- including a major small-business bill -- while the NFIB spent its resources on legislative battles with only tangential connections to small firms, battling climate-change legislation, pushing to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy or opposing a stimulus offering tens of billions in giveaways for, yes, small business.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, NFIB's bigger brother of sorts, has received greater attention for its outright political warfare against Democrats. The NFIB has maintained a lower national profile, and is still routinely referred to in the media as "the small business lobby." But inside the Beltway, the NFIB's raw partisanship is increasingly isolating it from key policy circles, as lobby groups such as the National Small Business Association, the Main Street Alliance and others expand their influence among entrepreneurs and mom-and-pop enterprises.

By yoking itself to the GOP, the NFIB is employing a strategy routinely embraced by the Chamber on one side of the aisle and labor unions on the other. The strategy makes sense for labor and major corporations in that their competing interests neatly fit atop the platforms of their respective parties. It makes less sense for U.S. small businesses, whose interests are often served by either party.

Democrats who deal with the NFIB regularly, even those on the business-friendly end of the spectrum, find it extremely difficult to get any traction with the group. In an interview, Senate Small Business Committee Chair Mary Landrieu (D-La.) fully extended her arm to the right to demonstrate just where on the spectrum the NFIB positions itself. "The small-business lobby is a broad coalition that ranges, I guess, from the right, by the NFIB, the Chamber of Commerce coming -- still right, but closer to the center -- and then you have more of your progressive and left-leaning small business groups," she said.

"Sometimes the NFIB cuts off their nose to spite their face," Landrieu said of the lobby's decision to obstruct the small-business bill to win points with Republicans.

On Capitol Hill, the NFIB has been associated with the GOP since the Reagan era, and enjoyed a particularly close relationship with the party during the presidency of George W. Bush. But in 2006, the organization made a significant leadership change, bringing on Todd Stottlemyer as president and CEO just as Democrats appeared on the cusp of a major victory in that November's midterm elections.

Chloride and Sodium: Two terribly dangerous substances that taste great together!

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