Politics

‘Bar Rescue’ Star Pushes GOP to Talk Small Business

Jon Taffer looking to endorse a Republican for president

Jon Taffer
Jon Taffer / AP

Jon Taffer will offer his support to any Republican presidential candidate who makes small business a focal point ahead of the 2016 election.

The hospitality industry veteran will unveil a policy statement next week on small business tax breaks and will endorse a candidate who supports the proposal, Taffer told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview.

Taffer, a self-identified fiscal conservative who hosts the Spike television show Bar Rescue, admitted that he’s "still looking" for a Republican candidate to effectively address small business. Having helped turn around thousands of failing establishments during his decades-long career as a restaurant and bar consultant, Taffer believes small business in America is in jeopardy.

"Until Main Street is fixed, we’ll never fix America," Taffer said, claiming that 15,000 small U.S. businesses shutter each month.

Taffer, who is waging a "war to ignite small business in America," soon plans to roll out his policy statement, which will propose that businesses meeting certain criteria be provided with a three-year window of no taxes.

The plan will recommend the creation of enterprise zones in areas where commercial occupancy is below a desired level. Small businesses in these areas that meet other benchmarks would be offered tax breaks.

Taffer explained that the plan would "light up" America by offering individuals incentive and a sense of urgency to pursue small business ventures. Any candidate who backs the plan, Taffer said, would receive not only his endorsement but also his active assistance.

Taffer’s public crusade on behalf of small business in America is nothing new. The hospitality mogul has documented his efforts to overhaul failing establishments on Bar Rescue since 2011.

Taffer also delivered remarks this past summer at the Americans for Prosperity "Defending the American Dream" summit in Columbus, Ohio.

"Small business is the army of economic growth and that army is led by our families, our neighbors, our peers," Taffer declared during his speech.

Republicans, Taffer affirmed, must focus on "local matters driven by national issues" in order to win over the American public ahead of the 2016 election.

The business expert said Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina, both of whom boast business records, appear to understand small business but have yet to make it a priority.

"He is at least a businessman. He understands business," Taffer said of Trump, adding later that there remains "opportunity" with Fiorina. Trump and Fiorina currently hold the most support among likely Republican primary voters, according to a CNN/ORC national poll out Sunday.

Taffer rejected the idea that a "political attitude or a political approach" is the key to boosting small business in the United States, describing himself as "not pro-politician at the moment."

But while he remains uncertain of which contender to support in the Republican field, Taffer is sure that no Democrat offers a sound approach to fixing small business in the country. Taffer said that Bernie Sanders, the socialist senator from Vermont and alternative to Hillary Clinton, "at his core being is not entrepreneurial."

And though Taffer said Clinton has done nothing to address small business, he contended that her biggest problem lies in her personal emails.

"Hillary has one political issue: It’s emails and integrity," Taffer explained, adding that she lacks both a campaign message and credibility among American voters.

But perhaps the most frustrating attitude toward small business that Taffer has witnessed emanates from Barack Obama’s White House. The business consultant named the Affordable Care Act and government regulation as the primary factors hindering small business growth.

"Politics aside … [Obamacare] is having a negative impact," Taffer said, claiming that Americans harbor a "fear of Obamacare … [and] other regulatory activities."

Taffer labeled the current political environment "terrifying" for any American considering going into business. He particularly knocked the Obama administration and its allies for celebrating low unemployment numbers as an indicator of economic recovery.

"That’s bull," Taffer said. "It’s offensive … to every small town in America."