Why did a group of Pennsylvania small-business owners celebrate Tuesday with President Trump at a White House ceremony where the Philadelphia Eagles weren’t welcome?
Tax cuts and less red tape were two main reasons.
“For members, this was a chance to thank the Trump administration for the work they have done to reduce regulations,” said Kevin Shivers, the executive state director for National Federation of Independent Businesses in Pennsylvania.
Shivers organized a delegation of Eagles fans and group members to attend a celebration of the team’s Super Bowl victory after the White House reached out to invite the group, which has strongly backed the president. On Monday evening, Shivers received a call saying that the champions would not be there. Trump canceled the team’s visit amid reports that fewer than 10 players would show up.
The visit was a high-profile case for the NFIB, a small-business advocacy group located in all 50 state capitals as well as Washington. The group sends members to present “the small-business perspective” to branches of federal and state governments.
Pennsylvania has about 14,000 NFIB members, Shivers said. He said the 24 members who visited the White House represented many different industries — construction, manufacturing, and retail, among them — reflecting its membership.
Shivers said his priority — to ensure their success in the state — is more attainable in today’s economy than it has been in decades, which he attributes to Trump. His administration, by decreasing the number of regulations, eliminates some of the more “overwhelming” aspects of owning a small company. The group’s Small Business Optimism Index also reached record highs in April, the NFIB site reported. And the U.S. unemployment rate was 3.8 percent in May, the government reported.
Ryan Sweet, director of real-time economics at Moody’s Analytics, said crediting Trump for the current economy can be overstated.
“Presidents typically inherit economies. So for the first year of Trump’s administration, that was the Obama economy,” Sweet said, while Trump is responsible for the economy in the second year of his administration and beyond.
Decreased regulations generally help small businesses, Sweet noted. But he said increased tariffs that the president imposed on steel and aluminum last month could hurt small businesses in the future.
Shivers acknowledged NFIB members may have “individualized concerns” about these tariffs, but said the group is not focused on the issue.
Jack London, CEO of London Financial Group and an NFIB advisory board member from Chester County, noted that “no Eagle has ever taken a knee” during the national anthem in a game during the regular season or postseason, but said he was disappointed with the players who were planning to skip the celebration and thinks it was a “mistake on their part to protest” in this instance.
“You may not like the president, and I get that, but I respect the office,” London said. “We’re talking about the office of the president, we’re not talking about the president himself.”