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Help Needed?

Does Uncle Sam owe entrepreneurs a helping hand, or should the government just get out of small business's way? Two experts face off.

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This story appears in the April 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Over the past two years, as the economy has gone south, businesspeople, politicians and economists have fiercely debated what the government should do to help small businesses--or if it should do anything at all. As fiscal policy director at the Cato Institute, the nation's leading free-market-oriented think tank in Washington, DC, Chris Edwards is one of the loudest advocates of limited government as the best solution to stimulate entrepreneurship. On the other side, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), ranking minority member of the House Committee on Small Business, is a passionate supporter of government programs to help entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur spoke with Edwards and Velazquez.

Broadly, what is your vision of government's role in fostering entrepreneurship?

Rep. Nydia Velazquez: The government should play a major role in encouraging entrepreneurs. Many entrepreneurs start off with a great idea but lack the know-how and connections to turn those ideas into legitimate, successful businesses. This is especially true of minority entrepreneurs and women who didn't grow up in a climate where capital was easy to obtain. The government has to level the playing field.

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