Friday, December 7, 2012

Amid 'Fiscal Cliff' Stalemate, Main Street Deteriorates

To begin to grasp how "fiscal cliff" uncertainty is paralyzing Main Street business owners, just talk to Charlie Arnold, who has been running a power-washing business in Lewes, Delaware for 13 years.

"Whenever the news is about the government and the economy, it scares the seniors and the phone stops ringing," said the owner of Arnold Powerwash, among whose jobs was the Lincoln Memorial steps in Washington, D.C. Roughly a third of residents in Arnold's coastal community are over 55, and many are on fixed incomes. Lured to Delaware by its lack of state sales tax, they worry when they hear noises about debt levels and changes to the tax laws.

"Since October, my business has dropped off 80 percent and I attribute that directly to the 'fiscal cliff' discussion and the economy," he said, adding local business owners "really are scared. They don't know what to do."

Anxiety over the "fiscal cliff" isn't just affecting Wall Street. Many entrepreneurs report slower activity as uncertainty swirls about how tax hikes and government spending cuts will affect them. Faced with unanswered questions, entrepreneurs are stuck contemplating trimming costs and laying off workers—not creating Main Street jobs, which has traditionally fueled economic recoveries. Read more >>

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