The Presidential Candidates’ Record on Small Business – Part II

Jim Blasingame

As noted in Part I, prior to every presidential election since 2000, I’ve compared the two major-party presidential candidates based on their performance and promises regarding top small business concerns.  Part I of this two-part series covered the economy, taxes, and regulations. Part II covers health care, entrepreneurship, energy, and the pandemic.

Mr. Biden regularly references his direct contribution to Obama administration policies: “I’m the guy who … “ is the prefix of statements lauding his accomplishments from 2009-2016.  Since he’s running on that record, we’ll follow Mr. Biden’s lead and attribute that two-term record to him.

As also noted in Part I, small business owners don’t have to like a customer or vendor to do business with them. Main Street operators favor performance over personality. As our grandmothers would say, “The proof’s in the pudd’n.”

“With the ACA, you can keep your doctor and costs will go down.” Barack Obama

“This (Obamacare) is a big #%@&’n deal!” Joe Biden

In 2010, Obamacare’s first year, half of small business owners we polled believed it would not be good for them. In 2013, over 80% of Main Street respondents reported Obamacare had raised both their premiums and deductibles. When IRS employees overwhelmingly rejected converting existing coverage to Obamacare, 82% of small business owners wished they had that option.

After the 2016 election, we asked small business owners “what issues President Trump should work on”: #1 – tax reform; #2 – end Obamacare. Trump did eliminate the ACA mandate, but his promise to “repeal and replace” Obamacare was one vote short thanks to John McCain’s ignominious and retaliatory last political act.

Trump then issued executive orders to create temporary policies that significantly lowered premiums and deductibles below Obamacare rates for millions of small business families. In our poll two weeks before the 2020 election, six-of-ten small business owners said, “Trump has reduced the damage caused by Obamacare,” with 13% wanting Biden to “give them more Obamacare.”

Trump promises more healthcare reform and less Obamacare. Joe Biden promises to “protect Obamacare and build on it.” Like their tax promises, Main Street employers believe them both.

“If I’d asked people what they wanted, they’d have said faster horses.” Henry Ford

Entrepreneurship is the incubator of the marketplace. Almost every big business you know began with one person – the founder. Of the 28 million American small businesses, three out of four (21 million) are independent contractors, sole proprietors, and gig economy folks.

But independents are under attack in California. As a sop to service unions like the SEIU, Assembly Bill 5 makes independents – like Uber drivers – employees, which is toxic to the entrepreneurial seedbed. Joe Biden’s track record aligns with Assembly Bill 5, and his platform reveals his next administration will encourage more such state laws, if not a national one. Breaking News: CA Supreme Court just upheld Bill 5.

The franchise is one of the most successful business models in history, and one of America’s greatest gifts to the world. In 2014, the Biden NLRB published a standard to make locally-owned franchisees (the McDonalds owned by your neighbor, for example) joint employers with their franchisor (McDonalds Corp). This created employment law and unionization peril for over 700,000 small business franchisees and undermines the franchise industry.

As part of his regulatory reform, Trump’s NLRB reversed Biden’s joint-employer standard between franchisor and franchisee.

The Main Street economy thrives on entrepreneurship, not anti-growth regulations.

“The institution of science makes skepticism a virtue.” Robert Merton, famed sociologist

A major campaign issue for Joe Biden is climate change, and he and his VP nominee have expressed support of the so-called “Green New Deal.” But Biden’s renewables track record is one of the great policy failures of all time. For example, the Solyndra misadventure burned through a half-billion U.S. taxpayer dollars, plus millions more of private investment on the way to declaring bankruptcy one year after Biden anointed them a renewable winner.

Since the U.S. rejected the Kyoto Accords in 1998 (95-0 in Senate) and withdrew from the Paris Agreement, U.S. innovation has reduced our carbon footprint to 1990 (Kyoto) levels, while expanding GDP three-and-a-half times ($6 trillion to $21 trillion). In 2019, the U.S. produced 50% more GDP than China, with half the carbon footprint. No other country can match the U.S. production:carbon ratio.

In a 2019 online poll on “What would be most threatening to your business?” 67% of small business owners said the “Green New Deal,” while 6% chose “not addressing climate change.” In our poll 18 months later, 79% preferred business-friendly climate change solutions over the Green New Deal.

Small business owners believe you don’t have to kill the economy to save the planet.

January 2020: “No clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus.” W.H.O.

April 2020: “This coronavirus is unprecedented in our lifetime.” Eric Toner, Johns Hopkins pandemic expert

These quotes dramatize the conflicting information produced by people upon whom we expected our leaders to depend. As indicated months ago in this space, leaders on both sides of the aisle should be given some slack due to this unprecedented plague. Nevertheless, the question of which candidate would deal better with the pandemic is being decided right now.

     National polls give a nod to Biden on future pandemic management, but in our latest poll, 74% of small business owners say Trump would be better. Out here on Main Street, it’s understood that the education ROI from an investment in a mistake is earned in the future.

Finally, during the last 48 months of the Biden economy, NFIB’s legendary, 10-factor Index reported small business optimism averaged 92 (45-year average of 98) and was trending down in 2016. In Trump’s first thirty-seven months (pre-pandemic) the optimism Index averaged 105, with a record Index high of 108 in 2018.

Write this on a rock … Optimism, thy name is America. It’s our intangible force, the envy of the world, and its only threat is bad government policy.

Jim Blasingame is the author of The 3rd Ingredient, the Journey of Analog Ethics into the World of Digital Fear and Greed.

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