The first time I mentioned Bill Dunkelberg in my blog was two years ago. Mr. Dunkelberg is the chief economist of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Professor Emeritus of economics at Temple University and chairman of Liberty Bell Bank in New Jersey.
In 2010 he led the NFIB’s PR campaign against the Small Business Lending Fund the Obama Administration wanted to create in order to encourage community banks to start making small business loans. Mr. Dunkelberg said that passage of the Lending Fund would lead to “bad loans” that would result in the same kind of financial collapse that resulted from the housing bubble.
Last week Mr. Dunkelberg’s credentials as a small business advocate for the NFIB were again on display in an interview on WHYY, a Philadelphia public radio station, along with John Arensmeyer, founder and CEO of the Small Business Majority.
In Mr. Dunkelberg’s ivory-tower world, almost all the 6 million small-business owners that the NFIB “worries” about would pay higher personal income taxes if the Bush tax cuts end as scheduled for individuals making over $200,000 or joint taxpayers making over $250,000 a year. Amazingly Mr. Dunkelberg proclaimed, “200-thousand. 250-thousand. It’s hard to make a lot less than that.”
In a national survey conducted by Lake Research last December for the American Sustainable Business Council, Main Street Alliance and Small Business Majority, only 3% of small businesses with employees other than the owner self-reported family incomes of over $250,000. That is right in line with all other polling on this issue.
How about the demand for small business loans? Since Mr. Dunkelberg is the CEO of a bank he should be an expert on this?
No small business wants to expand? No small business needs a loan? Sounds like a typical bank CEO who listens only to other bankers and wants to sit on his money waiting for the perfect, no-risk small-business loan application.
However another survey in May by the National Small Business Association found that 43% of its members have wanted loans in recent years but couldn’t get financing. In June Sam Graves, Republican Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business wrote, “One of the biggest issues faced by small businesses today is the inability to access sufficient credit and capital.”
Additionally, the Gallup poll disagrees with Mr. Dunkelberg’s portrayal of small business pessimism. “Right now, economic confidence is approaching its highest levels in the last four years. U.S. small-business owners are also about as optimistic about their business and their future hiring as they’ve been at any point during that time,” said Gallup’s chief economist.
All of this means one thing. Mr. Dunkelberg and the NFIB do not represent most small businesses in this country.
But one thing is certain. They and the NFIB don’t represent the rest of us.