Thursday, November 4, 2010

Let’s End “Huggem-Muggem”!

An open letter to the Republican House Leadership:

Legendary SBIR advocate, Milt Stewart, said it best in observing how Congress treats small business, “In public they hug them, in private they mug them!” I call this the Huggem-Muggem syndrome.

As the House of Representatives changes leadership, and with Republicans once again controlling Committee Chairmanships, perhaps we can get the legislative agenda changed back to enabling free market growth. Crucial to this will be what policies are driving enacted legislation that truly enables small businesses to fulfill their historical position of driving the innovation economy and making major contributions to US economic growth. Unfortunately, small business currently gets Huggem-Muggem: lots of lip service but very little productive legislative action that facilitates their creation of non-government jobs.

The new Chairmanship of the House Small Business Committee will be key to successfully fulfilling that job-creation goal. The incumbent, Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), has steadfastly blocked all efforts to openly debate many SBA initiatives, including the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program before her committee. Instead she has openly demeaned the small businesses she is supposed to support in favor of advancing the agendas of larger special interests which fund her re-election campaigns. Unfortunately, the heir apparent to the SBC Chair, Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO), has, time and time again, supported her outrageous behavior. Lots of Muggem without any Huggem!

Regarding the very successful 28 year-old SBIR Program, which has languished with Continuing Resolutions for two years due to Velazquez’s refusal to consider the Senate’s reasonable compromise to the differences between Senate and House versions of a reauthorization bill, having a House SBC Chairman who will take small business interests into consideration is of extreme importance. Please exert whatever influence you can to ensure that this happens.

SBIR has enjoyed considerable bi-partisan support over the years, and frankly, some of its most faithful supporters have been Democrats. Passing an SBIR Reauthorization bill acceptable to all sides of the issues is certainly possible. Just think of the positive message this will send to the country. All it takes is the willingness of both sides to be reasonable.

As it stands at the moment under the current CR, the SBIR Program will expire at the end of January, 2011. While it’s not impossible that a compromise SBIR Reauthorization bill could be approved in the upcoming Lame Duck session, it’s very unlikely that will occur. What must be prevented is Lame Duck SBC Chair Velazquez getting her way, performing another Muggem, and sneaking the current House version into law against, among other things, the will of the Senate.

I would be pleased to fully brief any House Member and his or her legislative aides on the issues at play with SBIR. One source for information is the website Others are the Small Business Technology Council (, the SBIR Insider ( and my SBIR Coach’s Playbook opinion column (

Thanks for paying attention to this. With new leadership and the proper resolve, let’s make ending Small Business “Huggem-Muggem” syndrome a top priority for the 112th Congress! Please!