Report: Many Maine Small Businesses Rely on Social Security & Medicare

  • Posted on: 28 March 2013
  • By: admin

Highlights importance of programs for Maine economy

A new report released by members of the Maine Small Business Coalition (MSBC) today shows that more than a third of Maine small business owners are over the age of 55 and increasingly rely on important social programs like Medicare and Social Security to maintain economic security.

The report, "Business is (Baby) Booming," prepared by the national Main Street Alliance, analyzes the U.S. Census Bureau's first-ever public use microsample data from a nationwide survey of business owners, finding that over one-third (39%) of Maine's small business owners are over age 55, at or approaching retirement age.

The report was released at a press conference at the Red Cup Coffeehouse in Boothbay, where several local MSBC members spoke about the increasing importance Medicare and Social Security to their lives and businesses.

“This report shows that almost 40% of Maine small business owners are, like me, nearing retirement age,” said Lisa McSwain who, with her husband Joe, owns Mid-Maine Restoration, a small construction company based in Boothbay which specializes in historical restoration and steeple and tower repair. “While there are many benefits to owning a small business, retirement security is not one of them.”

For many small business owners, Medicaid and Social Security form a critical source of income in retirement years. Unlike employees of large corporations, who are more likely to hold retirement assets, many small business owners’ retirement security is tied to the success of their business.

“Any money we earn goes back into the business,” said Paul Johnson, owner of the Red Cup Coffeehouse. “You don’t make enough money selling coffee to store away thousands in a private retirement account and, unfortunately, there’s no corporate pension that comes with owning a small business.”

Programs like Social Security also play an important role in ensuring enough consumer demand in Maine communities to support local businesses. According to the report, almost a quarter of Maine residents receive Social Security benefits, which accounts for billions in total personal income across the state.

“Lincoln County is the oldest county in Maine, so many of my customers are seniors,” said Kim Martin, co-owner of Eventide Specialties. “Cutting Social Security and Medicare would greatly restrict people’s spending and take money out of the economy. That’s not something we need right now.”

The report release comes at a time when corporate-backed groups like “Fix the Debt” are pressuring Congress to accept cuts to Social Security and Medicare as part of a “Grand Bargain” to reduce the federal debt. According to the report, even a 3-percent cut in Social Security benefits would deduct $109 million from Maine’s economy.

Instead of cutting Social Security and Medicare, small business owners say Congress should close tax loopholes and crack down on offshore tax abuse that allows the wealthy and corporations to avoid more than $100 billion in U.S. taxes per year by sheltering their income in offshore tax havens.

“When the wealthy and large corporations avoid their tax responsibility through the use of offshore tax havens, it robs the country of the resources we need to rebuild the economy, create jobs, and support small businesses and our customers,” said Kevin Simowitz, director of the Maine Small Business Coalition. “To support small businesses, Congress should close the offshore tax loopholes, not cut Social Security and Medicare.”

The full report can be found here: