Since retiring from the company in 2002, Marcus has given Atlanta a dazzling $290 million aquarium and a state-of-the-art bioterrorism unit at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Among his many other good works is the Marcus Autism Center.
Now he is taking on the challenge of "restoring job growth and returning the nation to economic prosperity." The vehicle is the Job Creators Alliance, launched last week to educate the public about "what we need to do to put America back to work," Marcus says on the JCA website, www.jobcreatorsalliance.org.
The alliance will tap the knowledge and experience of entrepreneurs "responsible for creating and maintaining more than half of the American workforce." Founding members include another Atlantan, Susan Story, CEO of Southern Company Services, and 10 other business leaders.
"I worked hard to make my own small company into a big one but I never could have succeeded if I had faced the avalanche of impediments that our current government hurls down upon this generation of entrepreneurs," says Marcus, who was born in 1929 to Russian Jewish immigrant parents in Newark, N.J., started working at age 13 while in school and ultimately worked his way to the top in corporate America.
"Overregulation, unfair taxes, and new mandates, like the controversial health care bill, are choking .... job-creating businesses before they can get off the ground," he says. "The president's State of the Union address included calls to increase trade and cut corporate taxes, all things that help big businesses alright, but do little to help the small enterprises and start-ups that are the engines of economic growth. They need relief from the alphabet soup of regulations that stifles them and therefore chokes hiring."
Another leader of the alliance, Michael Whalen is CEO of Heart of America Group, of Moline, Ill., operator of 27 restaurants and hotels in the Midwest. He says owners of small businesses are easy prey for Washington and the media wanting higher taxes on "these alleged 'millionaires and billionaires.'"
Yet most of the owners run "pass-through" companies such as S-corporations, partnerships and LLCs, "oftentimes rich on paper because they have to report company earnings as personal income....even though they may cut their own salaries to zero to say afloat." Currently, 54 percent of all private-sector employees, a total of 69 million, work for pass-through businesses.
There's a move afoot to "force many of these companies to revert to C-corporation status, effectively allowing the government to double tax their earnings" and, "inflict more than $27 billion in onerous, additional taxes on the companies that employ the majority of the people in this country," Whalen warns.
It's the message our country needs to hear. Let's hope the new Job Creators Alliance, thanks to Bernie Marcus, will get the message to the public - and the politicians - before even more taxes and regulations descend on us from Washington.