Uncertainty over the effect of a range of public policy issues has led to hiring freezes, benefit cuts and delayed expansions at small businesses. Owners are concerned their cost of doing business may increase because of health care reform, the end of Bush-era tax cuts and climate-change legislation. "There's so much trepidation out there," says W. Michael Brown, who owns Olympus Imported Auto Parts in Virginia. "The thing I'm struggling with is how the potential government takeover of health care coupled with impending taxes will impact my company."

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