Presidential candidates Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain have cemented their fate at the polls by simply being unable to shed their parties’ traditional reputations, says a handful of jan/san distributors.

According to those who will be voting for their candidate’s opponent, Obama represents a great likelihood that taxes and the size of the federal government will increase while McCain represents a failed economic and foreign policy from the current administration.

Allen Grady, president of Sky Enterprise Inc., a specialty chemical business in Kinston, N.C., says he is concerned that Obama will raise taxes, such as the capital gains tax, a move that would hurt the pocketbook of many who make a living in the jan/san distribution industry. He also sees McCain as the more likely candidate to surround himself with economic advisers that will provide sound policy to right the economic ship.

“I don’t want my taxes to go up — just look at the history of the Democratic Party,” says Chris Seybert, the owner of Northern Michigan Janitorial Supply, in Traverse City, Mich. “It’s not just the presidential office. My biggest fear is that if a Democrat gets in to the presidential office and you have a Democratic Congress then its no holds barred. They will pass every spending project that they can get their hands on.”

Some in jan/san distribution believe that is what hinders McCain the most, the fact that he may only know to serve the best interest of the Republican Party, a party that has been in the White House for eight years.

“I think McCain is a much better man than President George Bush and a much more honest man,” says Dick McGrath, of ATSCO Products Cleanings Solutions in Albany, N.Y., who is pledging his support for Obama during the upcoming election. “I think he is a decent guy and much more preferable to what we have now, but I think it is time for real change.”

McGrath understands that he is of the minority when it comes to supporting a democrat in the supply industry. According to a recent survey conducted by Sanitary Maintenance, 62 percent of respondents plan to vote for McCain.

“Unlike what is likely the traditional opinion in our industry, I don’t believe that speaking of being favorable to business is the same as really helping businesses, especially moderate-sized businesses,” says McGrath.

The Issues

Obama calls for tax relief for small businesses and startup companies by eliminating capital gains taxes on these type of enterprises, according to his Web site. He is also calling for a $500 “Making Work Pay” tax credit to almost every worker in America that will eliminate double taxation in which self-employed small business owners pay both an employee and the employer in payroll tax. Obama also wants to create a national network of public-private business incubators that will “facilitate the critical work of entrepreneurs in creating start-up companies. Obama will invest $250 million per year to increase the number and size of incubators in disadvantaged communities throughout the country,” according to his Web site.

Part of Obama’s economic plan, according to Bert Bellison, president of BGS Chemical, Kent, Ohio, is to set up a national infrastructure reinvestment initiative and spend $50 billion on national infrastructure.

“According to his analysis, that is going to put two million jobs in to the economy in year one...and $35 billion dollars in economic reinvestment and that is good for business,” Bellison says. “For my business in particular, if people have more money, they will be traveling more and the hotels will be using more product. If people are employed, then daycare use will increase. From a very selfish standpoint, the two markets that I go after will be directly impacted by the economy improvement.”

McCain has committed to supporting small businesses by finding cheaper fuel sources, tackling healthcare and reform taxes codes in which he will keep the top tax rate at 35 percent, maintain the 15 percent rates on dividends and capital gains, and phase-out the Alternative Minimum Tax, according to his Web site. McCain will also support opening new markets by “encouraging the growth of even more jobs in this sector through more free trade agreements which give American firms more access to sell our goods and services abroad.”

Grady is confident that McCain, who is more likely to push for drilling offshore, has more answers when it comes to the problems that staggering increases in fuel costs have caused. For example, the cost of gas has impacted company representatives, who used to buy gas for about $100 a week but now buy gas for about $175 a week.

“They are not making as many trips to see their customers. They are not getting out, they are not prospecting...they are not willing to go out and spend a substantial amount of money on gas,” Grady said. “The freight has gotten ridiculous. Everyone is barking that chemicals have gone up. I get price increases, it seems like, two or three times a day. It’s really gotten out of hand.”

McCain’s energy platform begins with an expansion of domestic oil and natural gas exploration and production. He also believes in a clean car effort that involves giving a $5,000 tax credit to those that purchase a zero carbon car. McCain is also high on investing in alternative clean fuel sources such as clean coal technologies, and encouraging the use of wind, solar, nuclear and hydro power.

Obama’s plan to address the energy crisis begins with providing relief to common Americans at the pump, creating five million clean energy jobs during the next decade and building a surplus of oil to alleviate the U.S. dependence on foreign markets. His plan also involves putting one million plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015, creating an initiative that 10 percent of our electricity comes for renewable sources by 2012 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions over the next four decades.

“I believe that the current administration has not provided real, honest long term guidance in terms of the climate picture,” McGrath says. “They have consciously and for rather greedy self-interest on the part of large businesses, have ignored and underminded efforts to solve the problem of global pollution and warming. I think he is captive — captive of the political audience that he serves.”

Another major issue that is being followed by distributors, who rely heavily on employees, is healthcare. Obama has pledged to build national healthcare plan in which every American would be eligible. Under his plan, businesses who do not provide “meaningful” insurance for their employees will be required to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of the national plan.

Seybert’s five-year old company does not offer health insurance to its employees, but he believes that if there is a national healthcare plan then there should be a mandate that everyone is insured.

“Because if some people opt out then it makes it more expensive for everyone else,” says Seybert, a McCain supporter. “It must be mandated. Most of our employees are insured through their spouses health insurance policy.”

McCain proposes a healthcare plan that, according to his Web site, will take the pressure off of small businesses that is caused by the increase in healthcare costs. McCain promises to provide $5,000 for health insurance to every American family and pledges to oppose “pay or play” requirements that could hurt small businesses.

Brendan O’Brien is a freelance writer in Greenfield, Wis.