Sen. John Thune, perhaps using the "phone a friend" option to find a mythical job-creator. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
NPR wanted to talk to a millionaire small business person who would be hurt by the proposed millionaire's surtax as a pay-for in the Senate Democrats' proposal for extending the payroll tax cut. So they asked a bunch of GOP congressional offices for help in finding those business owners.
They were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator for us to interview.
So we went to the business groups that have been lobbying against the surtax. Again, three days after putting in a request, none of them was able to find someone for us to talk to. A group called the Tax Relief Coalition said the problem was finding someone willing to talk about their personal taxes on national radio.
So next we put a query on Facebook. And several business owners who said they would be affected by the "millionaires surtax" responded.
"It's not in the top 20 things that we think about when we're making a business hire," said Ian Yankwitt, who owns Tortoise Investment Management.
NPR talked to three business owners, who all said that hiring decisions for their companies are based pretty much solely on return on investment and whether their companies need the extra hands to meet demand. They all also said something along the lines of what Jason Burger, co-owner of CSS International Holdings based in Michigan, said: "It's only fair that I put back into the system that is the entire reason for my success."
However, according to Sen. John Thune (R-SD) those people aren't at all representative of his mythical over-taxed "job creators."
"Those I would say were exceptions to the rule," responds Thune. "I think most small-business owners who are out there right now would argue that raising their taxes has the opposite effect that we would want to have in a down economy."
But those small-business owners apparently don't want to talk.
We already know that the actual effect on small business of a millionaire's surtax is miniscule: Just one-tenth of the 1 percent would actually end up being subject to the tax. Senate Democrats shouldn't be too quick to jettison the millionaire's surtax. They've already got Speaker John Boehner in a tight spot with his caucus over this issue. They should be rhetorically beating him and all Republicans about the head and neck hourly with this issue.