The Democratic presidential debates were dramatic, but none of the focus was on American entrepreneurs. Will Democrats kill small business in 2020?
20 Democratic candidates took the debate stage over two nights ahead of the 2020 election, all hoping to face Donald Trump. The top issues were healthcare, climate change, gun control, and social justice. All important topics but none of the discussion was aimed at entrepreneurs. So let’s look at the top candidates and ask, will Democrats kill small business in 2020?
Former VP Joe Biden
Biden has enjoyed a comfortable lead in the polls but was widely criticized for his debate performance. Obama’s former number two saw his numbers dip after Senator Kamala Harris went after him on issues of race.
Optics aside, Biden is certainly the establishment figure. Insiders like Joe tend to believe that radical policy shifts harm small business and that incremental change is best in an already strong economy. But so far the former VP has been short on specifics.
What we do know is Biden has been for a $15 federal minimum wage since 2015. This could harm small business owners, especially in lower-income states where these policies cost entrepreneurs more.
Biden also mentioned income inequality, which many economists agree is a real and growing problem that could destabilize growth. But here, he has not offered any concrete proposals.
Overall though, the 76-year-old Biden is a known moderate may be the least likely Democrat to kill small business after 2020.
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Warren has been painted as the most likely among Democrats to kill small business.
She is certainly among the most radical when it comes to big business, but has also said, “small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy.”
Her focus has long been anti-trust enforcement to prevent giant corporations from snuffing out more mom-and-pop operations.
Her big proposal is a tax on corporations she would use to create a grant program for 100,000 new “minority owned” businesses she says would create over a million jobs.
Critics have argued this proposal is both exclusionary on the basis of race and misses the point of what small business owners are actually struggling with.
In a booming economy reaching full employment, small businesses are asking for less stringent regulations, not one million imaginary employees in a market where it is already difficult to find good help.
Senator Bernie Sanders
Vermont Senator Sanders is the most openly anti-Wall Street candidate and remains a strong supporter of a $15 federal minimum wage.
Sanders also has a record of supporting small business financing including the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.
This act, signed into law by President Obama, gave $12 billion in tax relief to small business across the US. It also provided $30 billion in low-interest capital financing during the Great Recession.
Bernie bros also liked his recent proposal to cap interest rates on consumer and credit card loans at %15.
“With lower interest rates, entrepreneurs and small business owners would have better access to the credit they need to build and grow their companies,” Sanders says.
So Sanders isn’t anti-business. He like Warren is anti-BIG business.
Whether or not as President he’s likely to sign aggressive legislation with knock-on effects that could inadvertently harm small business is anyone’s guess. But certainly the self-styled socialist will make business owners nervous, and that will affect the market.
Senator Kamala Harris
The California Senator had the biggest post-debate bump after she jumped on Joe Biden over a 50-year-old bussing controversy.
Kamela and fellow 2020 hopeful Corey Booker have also called into question Biden’s general fitness on the issue of race.
She also won a billion dollar settlement against a predatory lender.
Harris made her name in California as a law and order prosecutor but has attempted to rebrand herself during this campaign as a stalwart of the social justice left.
None of that, however, has included any proposals related to small businesses specifically.
Harris does though support the $15 federal minimum wage and has called for a reversal of President Trump’s 2017 tax cuts.
These debt-increasing tax cuts are unpopular among Democrats but have also acted as a de-facto economic stimulus and are a factor in the current market boom.
The bottom line
So will Democrats kill small business in 2020?
It turns out this isn’t such a straightforward question.
Most of the top presidential candidates have strong small business proposals. The more complicated question is what effects their more macroeconomic measures have on the economy overall.
A $15 minimum wage is a universal agreement among top Dems. And it would theoretically increase consumer buying power, which is good for business. And yet it’s a proposal most small business owners dislike because it’s a cost that affects entrepreneurs with small profit margins the most.
So who should a small business owner support if inclined to vote for a Democrat?
The ancient Greeks invented both democracy and the saying that change is the only constant. Small business owners would be wise to take advantage of the current business climate and expand while money is cheap and consumers are still confident.