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Making Waves

Small-business owners go to Washington to make their voices heard.

Restaurant owner Perry Moy started lobbying "inside the Beltway" for the same reason many other small-business owners suddenly start prowling the Capitol's corridors. Someone in Washington ticked him off. In Moy's case, it was Sen. Paul Simon (D-IL), who told Moy, owner of the Plum Garden restaurant in McHenry, Illinois, that Moy was overreacting to the Clinton health reform plan.

Moy and his mother started the Plum Garden 32 years ago. But by 1990, Moy was beginning to feel he had a silent partner: the federal government. He got involved in the Illinois Restaurant Association, then the National Restaurant Association. In 1994, Moy came to Washington as part of that association's annual public affairs conference, which included a "Day on the Hill" meeting with congressional representatives.

At the time, President Clinton was pushing health reform, planning to pay for it in part with a payroll tax increase. Moy sought out his senator, Paul Simon. According to Moy, when he complained about the impact a new payroll tax would have on his 32-employee company, Simon answered, "Oh, Perry, you can afford that. Just raise prices."

After that conversation, Moy knew he had to spend more time lobbying his congressperson and senators. "Now I go to Washington [for the National Restaurant Association's conference] every year," he says. "A lot of politicians are out of touch."

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This article was originally published in the November 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Making Waves.

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