– George A. Cloutier is the founder and CEO of American Management Services and the author of the bestselling book “Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing”. The opinions expressed are his own. –

For the last two months we have been inundated with photos of oil-covered pelicans and other marine animals victimized by the oil spewing forth from the ruptured BP well in the Gulf of Mexico. The spill in the Gulf is obviously disastrous, but it pales to the economic “oil spill” that has destroyed small businesses over the last two years.

Pelicans and small business owners are faced with surprisingly similar situations: they are victims of disastrous events beyond their control. They are faced with a life-threatening struggle for survival, in which many have already passed due to lack of assistance, or are facing an uncertain future with promises of government intervention.

Both groups are facing tough odds, but right now I’d rather be a pelican.

For small businesses, the Administration and Congress (both parties) have done little to mitigate the disaster; talking a lot about how much they care, but implementing only half measures and largely ineffective programs that only helped a few. Lending levels from commercial banks have seriously declined and have created a lending squeeze for small businesses at a time when they desperately need more credit.

Washington politicians passed a healthcare bill with provisions to aid small businesses in the payment of premiums, but forgot to mention, according to the Congressional Budget office, that only 11 percent of businesses with 25 or fewer employees would get some help. The eligible businesses will receive approximately a third of the total annual premiums back in the form of future tax credits. Why, as a business owner, would I add healthcare benefits for my employees when I will receive only 1/3rd of the additional costs?