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Local Businesses Think U.S. Still Dangling On Fiscal Cliff

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – After decisions in Washington, D.C. many are asking – will the vote to avoid going over the fiscal cliff help companies here in North Texas? CBS 11 News spoke with one local business owner who said years of uncertainty have proven costly.

For nearly 50 years, Southwest Office Systems in Fort Worth has sold and repaired copiers and other equipment. Now, calling the situation “discouraging”, owner Vince Puente says it’s the economy and government that needs to be fixed.

Before the recession hit in 2007, Puente said his business had 73 employees. But that number has consistently dwindled. “We’ve been stagnant with 50 employees for two years now. Do we want to hire employees? Yeah, we’d like to.”

Puente says his catch-22 is that the expansion and prosperity of his business depends on whether his customers’ businesses grow.

The belief that the country is still ‘hanging on the edge’ of the fiscal cliff has many cautious. Even with the vote on Tuesday night, experts say the problem is that there’s still too much uncertainty for business owners.

“We don’t even know when exactly we’re going to fall off, and that’s the uncertainty businesses are having to deal with,” Southern Methodist University economics professor Mike Davis said, adding, “And that’s why they’re [business owners] not investing.”

While Congress extended the tax cuts established during the presidency of George W. Bush for most taxpayers, members didn’t cut spending. In fact, lawmakers are proposing increasing spending by nearly $4 trillion over 10 years.

Puente believes others like him can’t afford to take any chances. “If we think this country is moving by way of Greece, then we’re going to hunker down, save our cash, and be very, very cautious.”

For now, Puente has set a goal of increasing his business by 10-percent this year, but realizes that may be a challenge in what he admittedly expects to be a tough year.

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