Political Roundtable: Pennsylvania

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands as he arrives at Manchester Airport in Manchester, New Hampshire on November 22, 2011. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty)

The Takeaway kicks off a new series today where we talk with voters from each of the key electoral states to see what the political and economic situation feels like on the ground. We begin in Pennsylvania, where President Obama will be spending the day Wednesday discussing his jobs bill, and garnering the support of his base at the same time. Joining the roundtable discussion are Walt Rowen, owner of Susquehanna Glass Company in Columbia, PA, Randy Robertson, owner and president Triple R. Guitar in Lemoyne, PA and Jackie Magaro, owner and operator of Mr. Sandman, a residential restoration service company.

Comments [1]

Chris Johnston from Pittsburgh

Edith Cresson famously called Britain a nation of shopkeepers. She meant it as an insult. She meant that the UK was unable to think big with expensive bank-busting projects like the TGV. But many in Britain took this insult as a compliment. America could do with a bit more of that "shopkeeper" mentality.

President Obama when considering his jobs bill, could take a heads-up from Pittsburgh, where crony capitalism rules, and small business is definitely not on the front burner. Local government, under Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl, does more than good to small business, especially if you're really, really small.

For example, the Pittsburgh Public Market, where I sold British food until last month, is sitting in a historical public building that has been given (for free) to a larger Developer, the Buncher Corporation by the City's Urban Redevelopment Agency (URA). Furthermore, Ed Rendell, the former governor, squirreled away $15 Million dollars of taxpayer money to help Buncher turn this Building from a place in which American produce companies, farmers, and foodies do business into condos where rich foreigners can live while enjoying tax breaks provided by the City to their companies, so they'll move their companies to Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Public Market faces an uncertain future. The dozens of micro-entrepreneurs who use the Market to incubate their businesses have a more certain future: It stinks. Rendell would have done better to spend that $15 Million, giving 1,000 Pennsylvania microentrepreneurs $15K each. 90 percent of the businesses those microentrepreneurs would create with that money would fail, but the 10 percent that survived would go on to become job creation engines for the local economy.

The reason this scenario will like, never happen is that there is no political payoff in blocks of voters--for either party. When it comes to microentrepreneurs, Dems need not look for union label and Republicans won't find them sitting behind them in the Megachurch. But bother parties will be there to claim victory once those tiny enterprises do succeed.

BTW my twitter is @pittsburghpasty

Nov. 30 2011 10:13 AM

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