By E. D. Hartman, Midlothian
In recent interviews. Representative Dave Brat (R-VA07) seems to be under the impression that every citizen in the 7th Congressional District of Virginia either owns a small business or is employed by one. Last week, Brat referenced the small-business lobbying group “NFIB” and their opinion just to say, “That’s all my constituents.” He then followed this up the next day during John Fredericks’ radio show stating, “My whole district is small businesses, I’ve been fighting for small business since I’ve been up there.”
Well, Representative Brat, reality check: the facts do not bear this out. According to the 2010 Census Report’s profile of the 7th District of Virginia, the single largest employment by industry is actually – that’s right – government. Local government employees such as teachers and first responders drive this. As for the second-largest employment by industry in the 7th district, that would be health care, with a close third being retail trade.
Sure, some of these retail businesses are small business employees, but it’s definitely not the vast majority that Representative Brat claimed. The bottom line: Rep. Brat’s statement that all of his constituents are small business is factually incorrect. Actually, a large number of citizens in the 7th are employed by large businesses as well. And close to 20% of Brat’s constituents are retired. Perhaps the Congressman may have recently discovered this, as he stated on Fredericks’ show that he has been visiting retirement homes.
Now, it may very well be true that Rep. Brat spends all of his time speaking and listening to small business employers and employees. It may also be true that Rep. Brat receives a majority of his donations from small businesses. Based on Rep. Brat’s recent statements, it is surely true that his policies and votes reflect the small business constituents he listens to the most. However, the fact remains: the majority of citizens in the 7th district do not own a small business, nor do they work for one.
I do agree with Rep. Brat that small business owners are job creators and we need that sector to be strong. A successful small business can grow to become a large business and help the economy grow. Most small-business owners and employees need strong local and state governments to survive and thrive. They need teachers to educate, police to prevent crime, and yes, VDOT employees to maintain and repair roads. Without the services that government and large businesses can provide, how will small businesses recruit a skilled labor force? Rep. Brat should consider his entire district when making policy up there in Washington D.C.