Still in the midst of a recession, the United States finds itself at a crossroads regarding which path will lead to economic growth and job creation. There are two choices: further government involvement and a stronger role for Washington—accompanied by higher taxes and heavier regulation—or the path of less government, free enterprise, and lower taxes.

With a liberal President in the White House and both houses of Congress controlled by Democrats, it may seem that the country has made its choice already. However, polling done on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reveals that when U.S. citizens are asked directly, the opposite is true.

Lombardo Consulting Group asked small business owners and registered voters about their opinions on the rightful size of government and the role the government should play in economic recovery.

Eighty-seven percent of small business owners viewed free enterprise as “very positive” or “positive” ;78 percent of all voters agreed. Conversely, only 12 percent of small business owners and 3 percent of all voters viewed the idea of socialism “very favorably.” Small business owners know what they need for their businesses to flourish—and government isn’t it.

The poll also showed that Americans are seriously concerned about the size of government: 80 percent of small business owners were “very” or “somewhat concerned” about the growth of government, as were 78 percent of voters. Bigger government has brought with it out-of-control deficit spending and a skyrocketing federal debt, and Americans are wise to the effects of such behavior on the economy. The three principal threats to job creation were seen by small business owners and voters as (1) chronic budget deficits, (2) an expanding role for government in the economy, and (3) tax increases. Fifty-eight percent of voters and 55 percent of small business owners were “very concerned” that deficits will hurt job growth.

Finally, 60 percent of voters thought that Washington could improve the economy by spending less and reducing deficits; 45 percent of small business owners agree.

Small business is the backbone of the U.S. economy, and those who keep those businesses running know better than anyone what they need to stay afloat. The message is clear: If economic prosperity is the destination, Washington is on the wrong path. As the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform considers how to put the nation’s fiscal house back in order, it should listen to the citizens. They’re asking for less government and less spending.