Guest Columnist - Dan Danner
Imagine opening your mailbox to find a letter from the U.S. Treasury Department containing an invoice demanding $14,561,555,091.88. At first, you think this is a scam. Or someone in Washington,D.C. has made a big mistake. After all, no one could owe $14 trillion.
Fourteen trillion dollars. Imagine the parents of a newborn baby learning that their little bundle of joy's share of the national debt, as every U.S. citizen's, is $46,000 and change. The good news: The debt and the federal deficit have reached such astronomical proportions that Congress and the White House are finally debating the issue in public.
For decades, small business owners warned policymakers that government spending could not continue to steadily increase without endangering the economy. But no serious action was taken.
Now, with an eye on the 2012 general election, many in Washington are scrambling to offer various ways to reduce the debt and restore the nation's fiscal foundation. But the solution is simple and the model already exists.
All Congress and the President need to do is study the example of successful American small businesses. It won't take long to realize that if the federal government were operated as a typical small business, the nation could avoid the impending financial disaster headed its way.
First, successful small businesses don't spend more money than they take in. Second, they don't borrow money they know they can't pay back. Third, they keep a close eye on the cash that comes in and the cash that goes out.
One thing that would help government leaders is to look beyond the 2012 campaigns and focus on the most important national treasure we possess: Future generations of Americans. The force that drives many small business owners is personal, not financial. Their dream is to build a successful business that one day will be turned over to the next generation of family members.
Judging from the recent high-volume exchanges between Congress and the president, this $14 trillion debt is an issue that's mainly political. But to small business owners, it's personal. If Washington were to adopt the small business operating model, a solution to the debt crisis could soon be found.
DanDanner is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 350,000 small business owners nationwide.