Driving the Day: 2/15/12

Feb 15, 2012

Poll: Small Business Owners Fear Health Care Costs – POLITICO

Close to half of all U.S. small business owners say that concerns about the potential costs associated with health care and new government regulations are the reasons they are not hiring, according to a Gallup Poll released Wednesday. Of the respondents, 85% indicated that they are not currently hiring, with 48% of those not hiring attributing it to rising health care costs and 46% due to new government regulations. Almost one in four small business owners who aren’t hiring say that they are holding back because they are worried they will no longer be a business in 12 months.

Obama’s S.B.A. Budget: Doing Less With More – The New York Times

President Obama is promoting big investments in various areas of the federal government, but he is doing no such thing for the Small Business Administration. Continuing a trend that began with the proposed budget for 2012, small business owners would actually get less from the agency despite an increase in the administration’s budget. The Obama administration is asking for a loan subsidy that is two-thirds higher than the subsidy for 2012 because small business borrowers are a riskier proposition than they used to be. Additionally, small businesses would likely feel other cuts, including an 8% trim off funding for counseling programs.

China's Xi Starts His Wooing of U.S. – The Wall Street Journal

The man expected to become China's next leader, Xi Jinping, is on a week-long trip to meet with President Obama and hold discussions that could shape the relationship between China and the United States for the next decade. In meetings, the president and Vice President Biden pressed Xi on issues in the relations between the two countries. Yet, in a year of political transition, neither Obama nor Xi will give ground on major disputes.

Tax Incentives Don't Excite Business – The Sacramento Bee

President Obama's 2013 budget proposes initiatives to boost job creation and bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States. The U.S. business community, however, takes issue with many proposals in the president's budget, such as the end to some tax incentives for energy production, business-related tax breaks, and other taxes and funding. The proposals aimed at employment growth in manufacturing reveal a disconnect between government approaches and private sector realities and business decisions.

Deal Reached on Payroll Tax – The Wall Street Journal

After a long and heated debate over the payroll tax cut, Congress came to a tentative agreement on Tuesday night, allowing for an extension of the current tax cut through the end of the year. The deal, considered a victory for both Democrats and Republicans, helps to avoid a March 1 payroll tax increase for 160 American workers, while offering longer unemployment benefits and preventing a slash in Medicare doctors’ fees. A formal decision could be reached as early as Wednesday.

Retail Sales in U.S. Trail Forecasts as Auto Purchases DropSan Francisco Chronicle

Sales at U.S. retailers rose 0.4% in January, which is half of the 0.8% rise median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. This meager increase is largely due to an unexpected drop in automobile purchases; sales excluding cars climbed 0.7%, more than projected and the biggest gain since last March.

In other news…

Mild Winter May Help Boost the Economy – USA Today

One Billion Smartphones by 2016: Here Comes the Mobile Arms Race – TIME

Rising Gas Prices: Not Demand Driven – Businessweek

Eurozone Optimism to Boost Stocks – CNN

Fake Cancer Drug Found in U.S. – The Wall Street Journal

Facing Objections from Left and Right, Boehner Splits Up Transportation Bill – The Hill

China's Yuan Won't Dethrone Dollar Anytime Soon – Businessweek 

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