May 4, 2011
WASHINGTON -- Michael Teahan, like his father, mother, and uncles before him, is a small business owner. The 52-year-old has spent most of his adult life running his own businesses: a restaurant, a coffee bar and various companies involved in the espresso machine business.
And he’s doing very well for himself: The two-man operation clears about $1 million a year in total sales, Teahan says -- enough to secure himself annual income in excess of $250,000.
That makes Teahan one of the few small business owners to actually benefit from the Bush administration's tax cuts for the wealthy. He says the cuts save him about $12,000 a year, compared to what he paid before they were enacted. But as debates over the federal budget deficit have intensified, Teahan has found the political discussion increasingly divorced from the reality of his experience as a small business owner.
Tax cuts for the wealthy, according to Teahan, will do nothing to bolster his firm. They won’t affect his hiring decisions, they won’t encourage him to buy new equipment or help him move into a bigger warehouse. He says all of those decisions -- the nuts and bolts of actually running a small company -- depend on the his customers' economic conditions, not his personal tax rate.
"What we do in business, how we spend our money, how we allocate our resources -- that has very little to do with tax policy," Teahan says. "I map my business based on my customers, and what my customers want to buy, and what they can afford to buy."