Redefining ‘small business’

REDEFINING ‘SMALL BUSINESS’…. The McCain campaign has a nasty habit of redefining words when the existing definition doesn’t suit its purposes. This week, “small business” no longer means what most of us think it means.

This morning, John McCain talked about taxes in his latest weekly radio address, insisting that Obama’s tax plan would risk “bankrupting small businesses.” McCain didn’t explain how he arrived at this conclusion, especially given the fact that Obama’s plan actually offers all kinds of tax breaks to small businesses.

But it appears the problem is one of definitions. The McCain campaign taxes a comically expansive view of what constitutes a “small business.”

Ever since John McCain discovered “Joe the Plumber,” he has exalted “small business” owners — inviting them to announce their professions on signs at rallies — as the country’s only virtuous economic movers.

But now McCain has begun to define the term upward, leaving no mogul or tycoon behind.

On Thursday in Sarasota, Governor Charlie Crist introduced J. Robert Long, the CEO of Marine Concepts as a “small businessman.” The man McCain dubbed “Bob the Boat Builder” spent, as Crist noted, most of his career at Wellcraft Marine, which reported revenues of $67 million last year, according to Yahoo! Finance.

Tonight in Colorado, Senator Lindsey Graham, a close friend of the McCains, described Cindy as “a great small businesswoman.” Her “small” business — Hensley & Co., a family-owned Anheuser-Busch distributor that is the third largest among the 800 in the country — had revenues of nearly $200 million last year, according to Yahoo.

This does explain a few things. McCain’s tax plan, for example, would offer ExxonMobil a total of $4 billion in new tax breaks. As McCain sees it, this is probably his way of helping a small business.