(Lorraine Hunt-Bono) – The year was 1955. A nine story Riviera Hotel opened as the tallest building in Las Vegas. The historic Moulin Rouge debuted as the first racially integrated hotel. Liberace became the highest paid entertainer earning $50,000 a week and my family opened a small pizzeria on Fremont Street.
As small business employers, they paid and their employees paid a 2.0 % rate on their taxable earning for Social Security payroll taxes.
In 1960, Frank Sinatra and the world renowned “Rat Pack” performed together for the first time. My family purchased a parcel of land on Sahara Avenue looking to open their second Italian restaurant in Las Vegas. Congress raised the Social Security payroll taxes to 3.0%.
In 1973, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, the world’s largest hotel, opened. Dean Martin performed on opening night. My parents and I opened our first restaurant together. By that time, Congress had raised the Social Security payroll taxes to 5.85%.
In 1985, The First National Finals Rodeo was held in Las Vegas. Dean Martin played to his millionth fan in his show at Bally’s. My family continued to invest in Las Vegas as Congress raised the Social Security payroll taxes to 7.050%.
In 1990, The University of Nevada (UNLV) basketball team won the national title with a 103-73 victory over Duke in Denver. Las Vegas’ population hit 258,295. Siegfried and Roy debuted at the Mirage in their own 1500 seat theater. My family and I proudly celebrated my mom and dad’s 54th wedding anniversary. Congress raised the Social Security payroll taxes to 7.650%.
In 1998, Frank Sinatra passed away. The next night, the lights on the Strip were dimmed in his honor. My family and I began to plan on building a new restaurant. Congress raised the cap rate to $68,400 and then continued to increase the cap on the Social Security payroll taxes yearly by the following amounts:
1999 to $72,600;
2000 to $76,200;
2001 to $80,400;
2002 to $84,900;
2003 to $87,000;
2004 to $87,900;
2005 to $90,000;
2006 to $94,200;
2007 to $97,500;
2008 to $102,000
Small business employers across America have been facing the challenges of increased costs in doing business for decades. Many have succumbed to the pressures and have gone out of business. Yet today, small businesses still create the majority of all new jobs in the United States – 70%.
Small businesses are the innovators and creators of new ideas that have kept America the leader in the global economy. In Nevada, some 96% of businesses are small. In the U.S. some 99% are small. Small businesses employ about 153 million “working” middle class in America.
Regrettably, the 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act does little to help America’s true job creators, small business.
The Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s authors did not take the advice of some in congress who suggested cutting the payroll tax on employees and employers infusing $600 billion annually directly into America’s economy.
They did not consider an affordable Catastrophic Health Insurance plan available across state lines that would provide protection for all Americans against serious illnesses and financial ruin. They gave no real incentives to save existing jobs and their policies promise to raise taxes on America’s small businesses.
Instead, they devised a plan that is surreptitiously and methodically positioning America for a major public policy change from a free enterprise, free market system to a centralized government controlled system stifling small business.
The shift to empower more government control over individuals ‘versus’ the empowerment of people and small business to control their own destiny and their own lives is happening while we sleep. Weary taxpayers ignore the reality as they are wooed by promises of payments of cash that are pennies to the dollar, being siphoned from their paychecks and their businesses.
The hope for America’s true job creators to create opportunity for individuals to achieve the American dream of owning their own business and passing it on to their children and
grand-children is being abandoned by this Congress
If we are asleep at the switch, it may be too late to alter the course.
(Lorraine Hunt-Bono is a Commissioner on the Nevada Commission on Tourism and former Nevada Lieutenant Governor)