Most everything around Aaron Stevens is a puzzle, it seems. He intentionally made his office one...1 37-foot tall, 10,500 square foot puzzle. Stevens didn't count on congress making one, too. "I don't know," he chuckles, as he tries to anticipate Washington's next move.
Stevens co-owns Climb Iowa in Grimes, a place where on the day after congress reached a fiscal cliff deal in Washington, the lunch time crowd feels like many of the rest of the country. Some search for firm footing while surrounded by uncertainty. Stevens said his business has fared well recently and thinks the local economy is recovering from the marketplace he saw in his business' four-year history.
Regardless of how quickly the economy recovers, Stevens wants to make sure he takes care of his two dozen part and full-time employees. Their paychecks will soon reflect one of the lesser talked about aspects of the new fiscal cliff deal. Congress got rid of the temporary payroll tax reduction. Workers got a 2% reduction for the past 2 years in the taxes the government takes out to fund social security retirement. That reduction is now over. Stevens surmises many of his employees may not realize the change until they see their smaller paychecks.
Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, wants those employees to feel not like their taxes just went up, but rather that a temporary reduction has ended. Grassley said, "I hope they see it as a tax holiday going away, not taxes going up, but going back to where they've been for 20 years."
Grassley said he didn't know what effect the smaller paychecks would have on the nation's economy.
Aaron Stevens feels the effect will be minimal and plans on pushing expansion in the new year at Climb Iowa. His business has grown with a focus on memberships and climbing clubs. But he wants to now push into corporate retreats and team-building exercises, something some businesses have been reluctant to do when the economy struggled. He thinks a stronger economy will now push companies to invest more in their workers. For Stevens his business philosophy reflects the mission of his working office. He said, "You got to figure out how to get to the top of the wall. It's overcoming fears. It's great for team-building."
That's also a climbing lesson many people might want to see leaders in Washington take on these days, too.