Becky Cooper in Bounce Milwaukee
Becky Cooper, co-owner of Bounce Milwaukee, is seen at the amusement center and restaurant in March 2021. (Photo by Jonathon Sadowski)

Becky Cooper, owner of Bounce Milwaukee, lays out her support for human-focused components of Biden’s agenda.

I am a small business owner. I have operated Bounce Milwaukee in Bay View for more than 7 years, and I have been focusing on building a business that would provide the community with a safe place for families and friends to play, and job opportunities for local residents.

Over the years, there have been a lot of folks who are not business owners and are not part of this community claiming to speak for me and represent the needs and desires of business owners. In doing so, they’ve created a system that tilts the playing field in favor of the big corporations and makes it hard for small businesses like mine to compete. 

I cannot sit by and watch this continue. It is time you all hear straight from people like me—real business owners who actually live in and love this community—about what we want to see happen in this critical moment as Congress debates investments in the future of this country.

I support investments in the care economy that make early childhood education, child care, and dependent care more affordable and accessible to all families. These investments would bring more people into the workforce, which I welcome as a small business owner who thrives when there is a more robust, diverse employment pool.

RELATED: How Does This Milwaukee Business Plan to Address the Worker Shortage? A Union.

Similarly, I support investments in higher education, including tuition-free community college. I’m tired of hearing complaints about how hard it is to find qualified people to fill positions. We have an opportunity to invest in that talent pipeline and produce a more highly skilled labor force with the reconciliation bill working its way through Congress.

I support a federal program providing paid family and medical leave and expanding access and affordability of health insurance. These are benefits that many of us cannot afford to provide as small business owners, and that makes it hard for me to compete for many talented employees who can get them from large corporations. Federal programs level the playing field and allow small businesses like mine to compete for the best talent.

I recognize that these investments have a price tag attached and we have to pay for them. That is why we need to take a hard look at our tax system and whether it is raising revenue in a fair and equitable way so that we can afford these investments. There were 39 corporations that made more than $120 billion in combined profits from 2018-2020 and paid net zero dollars in federal income taxes for those three years. Many even received tax refunds. Another 73 of America’s largest corporations including Amazon, Netflix, Nike, and Disney paid less than half the statutory corporate income tax rate of 21%, and as a group paid tax rates in the single digits in that period. 5.3 percent of their profits in taxes during that period. 

I don’t begrudge these companies for their success. Good for them. But I pay my taxes every year, without a team of accountants and lawyers to help me avoid paying what I owe. These corporations can afford to do the same to fund the investments we need to create a level playing field for businesses big and small. Main Street Alliance recently came out with a set of recommendations that would help do that—and many are included in the Build Back Better package.