Up Front: SMALL BIZ
BILL CLINTON: EXILE ON MAIN STREET
THE PRESIDENT'S WOOING OF small business is drawing a tepid response. Oh, Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore got an outwardly enthusiastic reception from some 2,000 delegates at the White House Conference on Small Business by displaying 16,000 pages of government regs being axed. Example: How to cut string beans.
But most of the entrepreneurs were doubtful of his commitment. Why? Consider the Clinton-backed family-leave law, which allows workers to take time off for nursing sick relatives and other obligations. Small-business owners say this strains
their limited resources. Then there's the Administration's proposal to up the minimum wage 90 cents, to $5.15 per hour. That upsets small-biz folks, even though the GOP Congress likely will block it. Fred Ahle, who runs a Longview (Tex.) printing operation, says this would stop his hiring more workers. Worse, conference-goers still resented Clinton's ill-fated health plan, requiring them to pay for workers. EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT, WITH OLUWABUNMI SHABI Amy Barrett