By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS
It’s too early to tell. That’s the local reaction to the deal in Congress that pushed the fiscal cliff problem into March.
What will be noticed right away will be a 2-percent increase in the Social Security payroll tax that was part of the deal. But other aspects of the deal may take time for local businesses to understand.
Goshen Chamber of Commerce President David Daugherty returned to work Wednesday after the holidays and said there are concerns about the fiscal cliff deal but, “It’s really too early to tell.”
“It’s a tough one to comment on. They didn’t deal with everything. They need to keep the economy on a forward momentum,” Daugherty said. “They need to learn to work together to create jobs and have families earn a living. They’re not halfway there, really, they aren’t even close. They’ve got to learn to get along, be up-front and be honest with the American people.”
Daugherty added the legislators don’t seem to understand how the issues involved impact the economy and individuals.
“They need to get their leadership in place. The solution isn’t an easy one,” Daugherty said. “They need to try a little harder.”
He’s glad for what legislators did agree upon, but “what they did is not enough. They did something good for my pocketbook and your pocketbook, but they need to do more to make an impact,” Daugherty said. “Congress hasn’t passed a budget in four years. It befuddles me. They need to find a way to work together.”
Businesses and industries will press on in Middlebury and Elkhart County, stated Sam Pohl, director of Middlebury Chamber of Commerce.
“The entrepreneurial spirit will not be diminished,” Pohl said. “Middlebury will move forward. It’s frustrating not knowing (answers) and we have to wait still longer on Washington to make fiscal decisions. I would never want to be in their shoes.”
No business owners have shared concerns about the fiscal deal with the Nappanee Chamber of Commerce, said Executive Director Jeff Kitson.
“They were attentive to Washington and the 2 percent increase in the Social Security payroll tax will slow the economy up slightly,” Kitson said. “I know people in Nappanee are going to take a step back, take a good look and spend their money more wisely and shop locally. I want everyone to have a good year and use what they can to support local businesses.”
Elkhart Chamber of Commerce president-elect Kyle Hannon also had no immediate contact from local businesses in regard to the fiscal cliff deal.
“They are sorting through what it means. I’m pleased a deal was made because the crippling effect is the uncertainty,” Hannon said. “It’s hard for businesses to make decisions when they aren’t sure about government spending. At least now they can understand the rules of the game and it’s removed some of the uncertainty. I’m not sure people are happy about it.”
And tax increases could impact local businesses, Hannon added.
“Taxes will go up and that will impact spending. The middle class won’t have as big a hit but the tax increase will be given to the government instead of retail places like Concord Mall,” Hannon said. “It’s to soon to tell the impact. Everybody will feel something.”
Robert Thatcher, general manager at Concord Mall, said he hopes to continue to see strong patron traffic and retail sales with the 67 businesses connected with the mall.
“This legislation is important to all. I’m optimistic,” Thatcher said. “Elkhart County has led the nation in job growth. Wages are higher with more disposable income for discretionary spending and to shop local is important.”
And Hannon hopes for the best with the fiscal cliff deal, but said he’s more disappointed the legislators haven’t addressed the issue of serious spending.
“They’ve done something short-term to help, but when are they going to get serious about their spending? When can Washington make decisions and come to some kind of solution?” Hannon asked. “It gets discouraging.”