Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Revival Lighting owner Janine Vaughn gets props from President Obama

Posted By on Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 4:55 PM

Revival Lighting owner Janine Vaughn has probably had more national news exposure than your average lighting company owner.

Last year, Vaughn showed up as a simple small business owner in Inlander stories about income-tax Initiative 1098 (arguing it would save her small business money) and workers-comp insurance-privatization Initiative 1082 (arguing it would cost her small business money.)

And we weren't alone. She was profiled in the Spokesman-Review, interviewed by TV news stations, quoted in the LA Times. And now she's turned up in a speech by Barack Obama – that Barack Obama – as an example of a business owner, dogged by tripling health care premiums, who could take advantage of health care reform's new tax credits and new small-business health insurance pools .

(If we were her we'd use Barack Obama saying “Janine Vaughn of Spokane, Washington” in our outgoing voicemail message.)

So does the simple small business owner become Simple Small Business Owner: Political Anecdote?

For starters, she's not just a simple small business owner. For over a year, she's been on the steering committee for the Main Street Alliance, a national small-business lobbying group. While other pro-business groups, like the United States Chamber of Commerce, have a reputation for being conservative, the Main Street Alliance is traditionally liberal (it supported the income tax and health care reform and fought against privatizing worker's compensation).

The Main Street Alliance, Vaughn explains, is made up of mostly smaller businesses. That's why they tend to stand in such stark contrast to traditional business lobbying groups – and the Republican agenda.

“The right wing tends to push  tax breaks for the rich,” she says. The Main Street Alliance – as are most lobbying organizations – is constantly contacting the White House with specific stories about how policies have affected their members. The alliance was formed to support health care reform.

A few weeks ago Vaughn was called by Karen Richardson, from the White House. She was interviewed about her story, her opinions, and about what she wanted to tell the president. Parts of that interview appeared on the White House blog.

“It's actually very surprising,” Vaughn says about her sudden ubiquity in the press. “They’re actually listening to the small business voice. It's exciting.”

So what was it like being quoted by the president of the United States?

“I think that was really cool,” Vaughn says. “As long as it wasn't Bush. Any other president, it is a pretty big honor.”

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, staff writer Daniel Walters is the Inlander's City Hall reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...