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National Federation of Independent Businesses

NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESSES

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) is the largest U.S. advocacy organization representing small and independent businesses. The NFIB has a membership of 600,000 business owners, including commercial enterprises, manufacturers, family farmers, neighborhood retailers, and service companies. The total membership employs more than 7 million people and reports annual gross sales of approximately $747 billion.

Founded in 1943, the NFIB was created to give small and independent business a voice in government decision making. The NFIB is recognized as one the most influential lobbying organizations in the United States, working with state and federal legislators and regulators. Its administrative headquarters are located in Nashville, Tennessee, but its public policy headquarters are in Washington, D.C. The NFIB also has state legislative offices in all 50 state capitals.

The governance of the NFIB differs from that of more traditional lobbying organizations. The NFIB uses the balloting of its membership, rather than a steering committee or a board of directors, to determine NFIB policies. In addition, it seeks to prevent undue influence by one member or group of members by setting a maximum contribution of dues. Minimum dues are $100, and the maximum dues contribution is $1,000. The NFIB follows these procedures so that the policies it advances will reflect the consensus of the business community rather than the narrow interests of any particular trade group. Once the ballots are counted—five times a year on federal issues and at least once a year on state issues—NFIB lobbyists carry the message to Congress and the state legislatures.

The NFIB opposes higher taxes on business and government regulation. At the state level, it works to lower the rates businesses are required to pay for workers' compensation insurance. At the federal level, it has campaigned for cutting the federal deficit, stopped an effort to raise employment taxes, and fought to increase the deductibility of health insurance premiums for the self-employed.

The NFIB has been a critic of the environ-mental protection agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the internal revenue service, believing that these federal agencies stifle the productivity and profitability of business through over-regulation. It emphasizes the need for a free-market economy, noting that small business produces 38 percent of the gross domestic product.

In the late 1990s, the NFIB broadened its scope and began to support pro-small business candidates for state and national office. In 2000, the organization established the NFIB Legal Foundation, which advocates for small business in the courts and strives to educate its members on legal issues. In addition, the NFIB political action committee "NFIB SAFE Trust PAC" uses member contributions to support candidates who are pro-small business. Issues concerning NFIB in 2003 included tax relief, including permanent repeal of the inheritance tax, affordable health care, medical malpractice law reform, caps on civil suit damages, and affordable high-speed access to the internet.

further readings

National Federation of Independent Businesses. Available online at <www.nfib.org> (accessed July 28, 2003).

cross-references

Business Affected with a Public Interest.

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