10 Questions With National Federation of Independent Business CEO Dan Danner


No more Olympia Snowes. She will be missed. I'm a Republican. That's probably not a secret. But I came here in 1979, and the steel company said, 'We'll pay for you to belong to one of these clubs, a place where you can go have lunch with somebody,' which you can't do now, I think that's a shame – that's another, I think it's horrible that you can't go out and have a cup of coffee with a staffer without worrying whether he or she is being bought for a cup of coffee, or the food in the Rayburn cafeteria, which isn't that good. So they told me I could belong to a club, and I looked at the Capitol Hill club and the Democrat club, the old Democrat club. So I joined it 'cos it was more fun. A nice little bar area, the popcorn machine, people used to sit around and chat. And frankly it didn't make a lot of difference. It's hard when you see the people like we did a lot over the years with blue dogs and, frankly, yellow dogs before they were blue dogs. And it's a shame that most of them, it's a hard place to be between redistricting from their own party, you know, I think it's a shame to see people like Dan Boren leave. He's a conservative Democrat, and, you know, that's hard to be. If you're in the northeast and you're a moderate Republican, that's hard to be because you get squeezed pretty hard both ways. I do think that's a shame. It's harder now. Hopefully lots of people won't give up.

Who is your favorite member of Congress, and your least favorite?

Well I'd be careful on the second one. That's one of the lessons I've learned in a long time. Careful what you wish for, and one of my philosophies over the years has been, don't burn any bridges, 'cause today's adversary could be tomorrow's friend, and I think that's how it should work. You and I could disagree on 80 percent of the things, but maybe there's 20, maybe there's something we could work on. Someone on the Democrat side that's not known to be enormously pro-business, clearly he's pro-labor, but who exemplifies this and is just a delightful guy, and that's Ron Wyden. I mean he is just the nicest guy who we've worked with him on some stuff, and we kind of know on the labor stuff, minimum wage and other things, where he's going to be. But there's always opportunities to work with him. He's just a delightful guy. To me that's sort of Washington as it should be. John Boehner's a good friend of mine. I grew up in the eighth district of Ohio. I knew John when he ran for the state legislature. I knew him when he first ran for Congress. People that were involved in his very first campaign. Some of them are people I went to high school with. That stuff about nine brothers and sisters over the restaurant is all true. And when you talk about kids and small business, if you ask him to give a talk somewhere and you say, 'Would you talk about kids and small business?', the odds are he won't get through it without tearing up, and that's real. I respect him for that.

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