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Morning Action: What Small Business Owners Are Worried About

SMALL BUSINESS.  Small business owners are now more concerned about healthcare than the deficit, according to a new survey:

Healthcare is now the most significant national concern among small businesses, outpacing the federal budget deficit and taxes.

The findings were revealed this week in the fifth annual U.S. Bank Small Business Survey. With the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the study found business owners are wary of its long-term impact.

In the study’s words: “Slightly more than six in 10 owners now say the long-term impact of the Affordable Care Act will be negative on their business.”

BOEHNER.  Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham responds to Speaker Boehner’s renewed attacks on conservatives:

It’s disappointing, but by now not surprising, that the Republican Speaker is attacking conservatives looking to retake the Senate.  The Republican Party should be large enough for fact-based policy debates. Unfortunately, John Boehner is more interested in advancing the agenda of high-powered DC special interests than inspiring Americans with a policy vision that allows freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society to flourish.

TRADE.  President Obama is calling for ‘bold steps’ in trade talks (sub. req’d):

President Barack Obama wrapped up his trip to Japan with no sign of progress in the trade talks, but lawmakers are keeping pressure on him to ensure Japan lowers its barriers to U.S. farm exports. The negotiations over Japan’s import tariffs are critical to wrapping up the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Japan’s top negotiator, Akira Amari, said Thursday that the talks had “stopped for now” and were unlikely to resume “straight away,” The Associated Press reports . “The old issues remain,” he said.

At a closing news conference , Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe were more upbeat, of course, insisting that they are still determined to get a deal. Abe said “the remaining issues must be overcome very quickly.” Obama said it was ”time for bold steps” and that “all of us have to move out of our comfort zone.”

WRDA.  A House panel may advance the Water Resources and Development Act next week (sub. req’d):

What could be an important procedural step toward finalizing a water projects bill comes Tuesday, April 29, when a House Transportation and Infrastructure panel reviews recently approved “chief’s reports” from the Corps of Engineers  on proposed construction projects. If all goes well, a conference report on the big waterways infrastructure authorizing bill — a goal of a wide spectrum of business groups including manufacturing, retail, commodity production and navigation industries — might be just weeks away from completion.

HIGHWAY BILL.  A highway bill may also be coming down the pike next week (sub. req’d):

With the water resources authorization moving toward passage, new versions of a highway bill are coming one atop the other . Next week we expect to see one from the Obama administration, hewing closely to the outline in his budget proposal, for a four-year bill that spends heavily on transit, brings rail into the same trust fund and doubles TIGER infrastructure grants. Lawmakers, though, seem focused on getting a bill that extends current road and transit programs at current spending levels plus inflation.

Despite the differences among the various proposals, lawmakers returning from spring break will have a major set of infrastructure investment measures to work through.

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A highway bill may also be coming down the pike next week

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