Pollsters say that almost all African-Americans and most Latinos will vote for President Obama in November. Meanwhile, GOP candidate Mitt Romney tells business owners they should support him because he will heal the ailing economy.
If you belong to both those subgroups -- you are a minority business owner -- how do you parse the issues in the presidential campaigns and decide how to vote?
Like most Americans, the majority already have made up their minds.
Attorney Michael Barnett, 35, of Boca Raton, is president of the GOP Black Caucus in Palm Beach County. He is also trying to get his private law practice off the ground.
Barnett agrees with the GOP argument against Obama's economic policies. He says making employers with 50 or more employees offer health insurance plans or have them pay penalties, as Obama's Affordable Health Care Act does, will hurt small businesses, including minority businesses. He says raising income taxes on people making more than $200,000 a year, as Obama is also proposing, will also hurt the economy.
He believes in the trickle-down benefits of leaving the money in the pockets of the wealthy, who can create jobs. He also believes in lower taxes for businesses and fewer regulations.
"I believe in freedom of the economy," he says.
Barnett says his fiscal conservatism separates him from many blacks, but on social issues not so. He is against abortion, favors "traditional marriage," and also backs the issuing of school vouchers so that parents can shop for the best schools for their children. He believes most African-Americans agree with him on those issues, while Obama doesn't, but he admits that probably won't keep them from voting for the president.
"President Obama's positions on social issues is more like a disagreement in the family," he says. "We Republicans expect he will win the black vote. But what we're trying to do is fight the old misconceptions. Most blacks think they were born Democrats and that the Republicans are evil. That certainly hasn't been true in my experience. Meanwhile they aren't getting a good return on their votes from the Democrats. We're trying to get more people to see that."
Joe Anderson, 41, owner of J.D. Anderson Construction in Riviera Beach, is not convinced. He supports the president. In particular, he doesn't believe in GOP economics.
"I'm not in favor of the trickle-down theory," he says. "The president has been more an advocate for the middle class and of helping small business. When you help small businesses, you help local communities and the people in them. I can hire people I know, electricians, plumbers, whoever."
He also believes the government must play a role in stimulating business, especially in hard times. He points to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which since 2010 has made available $7 billion to rehabilitate neighborhoods hit badly by the foreclosure crisis. HUD provides money to renovate homes and other buildings or demolish structures and build new ones. Anderson says his business has benefited from that policy and he says he is afraid Romney would end that kind of program.
He also disagrees with Romney and other Republicans who argue for less regulation. He says recent events such as the subprime mortgage debacle and the meltdown of the financial industry can't be ignored.
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