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Friend Or Foe?

With elections approaching, Republicans and Democrats fight for small-business support.

This story appears in the July 1996 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The Clinton administration crushed a critical IRS provision in the small-business regulatory reform bill the president signed on March 29. And the House GOP promises to turn the Small Business Committee into sawdust in the next Congress. Yet with the opening of the national 1996 campaign season, both Democrats and Republicans are throwing their arms around the shoulders of small business and squeezing tight, as if mimicking the popular TV show "Friends."

Republicans have been especially quick to claim political sponsorship of small business, given the election of numerous small-business people to the House in 1994. Soon after that election, Haley Barbour, chairman of the Republican National Committee, declared the GOP the party of "Main Street." Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), the House Republican whip and third-ranking House member, has repeatedly said the federal regulatory angst he suffered as a small-business owner catapulted him into politics.

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