A few weeks ago, Republicans put their hypocrisy on full display by playing politics with America’s future and refusing to raise the debt ceiling. And even after a deal was reached to keep the country running, I find myself wondering if Republicans in Washington care about small businesses like mine here in Chester.
Though this short-term debt ceiling deal is a positive step forward, it gives us all some breathing room only until December. But to be clear: This should have never been a political game to begin with.
Playing politics with the debt ceiling hurts all of us: According to some estimates, we’d lose six million jobs and our unemployment rate would nearly double — all of that just a year after a generational financial crisis caused by the pandemic.
Just ask any small-business owner across the country — the past 18 months have tried and tested us. At my business’s peak, we had 23 employees, but now, we’re getting by with 12 workers. During the pandemic, our business saw revenues fall about 20%. My husband and I woke up many days worried about how we were going to pay the bills and help those families that depend on their loved ones working at our business.
Luckily, we were able to use loans from the American Rescue Plan to stay afloat. If the GOP follows through on its debt ceiling threats in December, it would mean death for so many businesses like mine that have fought so hard and managed to stay afloat.
This kind of uncertainty is corrosive to our small business. Whenever there is dysfunction in Washington, customers spend less, and I have to hold off on hiring workers or investing to improve my business. This is a time when Washington should be looking to lift us up, not push us down — especially after the events of the last 18 months.
Republicans should never have brought us to the brink of an economic collapse like they did. Addressing the debt limit shouldn’t be a partisan football. This is about paying the debt that both parties have already incurred, including the nearly $8 trillion Republicans helped accumulate under Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, including billions for their reckless tax giveaways for the ultra-wealthy and big corporations.
As a reminder, raising the debt limit is a historically bipartisan responsibility. When Trump was president, Republicans in Congress raised the debt limit three times — each time with Democratic support.
This may be a game to Republicans in Washington, but for us, it’s our livelihood. Delaware County is paying attention. There’s nothing fiscally responsible about running up bills and then refusing to pay them. I know full well as a business owner that there are consequences to those kinds of actions. Treating the credibility of the United States with such low regard is something that voters will remember.
Sitting on your hands and forcing others to do the heavy lifting wouldn’t fly in our business, and it shouldn’t fly in politics. I’m running a business and doing my job. Now it’s time for you to do yours.
Kristin Smith is president of Smith Flooring Inc., which is based in Chester.