TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Linda McMahon, the nation's Small Business Administrator, was in Tucson Friday as part of her Ignite listening tour to visit all 68 SBA district offices.
"I like coming into communities," she said following a private session with two dozen small business owners. "I like sitting with business owners."
While the conversations were off limits to the press, following their conversations she said "they are the backbone of the American economy."
Sitting at her side was Congressional 2 Representative Republican Martha McSally who was anxious to talk about the tax plan moving through Congress.
"This is exciting," she said. "Crossing the finish line on the law is a high priority and I'm looking forward to doing it."
McSally also brushed off questions whether she will relinquish her Congressional seat to run for the US Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Flake, who is retiring.
"This is an official event and in my official capacity it would be an ethics violation to discuss it," she said.
Meantime, about two dozen protesters gathered at the Small Business Administration office on Tucson's east side to protest the tax plan.
71-year-old Elizabeth Stone was carrying large yellow sign while chanting "shame on McSally."
"They don't seem to care as long as they get their billions and billions, to hell with the rest of us," she said. "And that's why my sign says we're getting the shaft."
The middle class is disappearing she said because of President Trump and Congress.
Inside, the conversation was how to lower taxes on small business which the Congressional tax plan seeks to do.
McMahon said those small business owners need the break to plow money back into their workers and equipment investments.
Mark Beres, President and CEO of Flying Leap Vineyards said that's what tax breaks would do for him.
"The regulatory compliance costs we have to pay, absolutely, fundamentally, 100 percent limits the number of people I can hire," he said. "Absolutely no doubt."
Its not just the regulatory compliance but the tax load which he says hurts his ability to expand.
"Remember, taxes are not just federal and state taxes," Beres said. "There are an array of taxes."
He cites payroll taxes, sales taxes, regulatory fees, local taxes and county property taxes as an example.
"My property taxes went up 700 percent in one year," he said. "I don't know why."
Margo Susco, the owner of the niche leather and clothing store downtown Hydra, agrees with the tax burden.
"We are being taxed to death," she said. "The regulations, it's an unbelievable burden on us."
She's closing her store after 23 years to pursue another career but is still not sure what that will be yet.
"I feel this is definitely time for me," she said. "But I'm feeling good about what I've done."
She has survived a bumpy road downtown despite and will miss it.
"I bawl my eyes out every time I think about it," she said.
But she admits life it hard for small business these days.
"All we want is at least a level playing field," she said. If they want small business to stick around they're going to have to cut them some slack and give them a break."