(This post originally appeared on The Hill)
Now that former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg looks like he’s throwing his hat into the ring for the presidency, it’s a good time to consider what a Bloomberg administration would do for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Would he be good for your business? That depends. Here are six ways small business owners could be impacted.
1) Higher energy costs and more environmental regulations.
Bloomberg is a major advocate of reforms that would help fight climate change. But he’s not an avid supporter of the Democrats’ Green New Deal, calling the proposal – which includes upgrading all existing buildings in the U.S. and overhauling the country’s transportation infrastructure – “pie in the sky.” As president, Bloomberg would likely seek to legislate the reduction of carbon emissions by eliminating coal-fired power plants, reducing natural gas and more closely regulating fracking and other forms of fossil fuel production.
He would likely work to get the U.S. back on board with international climate change treaties and overturn some of President Trump’s oil exploration initiatives. All of these actions would likely raise the costs of energy and create more regulatory work for businesses, both big and small.
2) A return to ObamaCare.
Bloomberg is a supporter of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as ObamaCare. He supports the individual mandate, which was repealed as part of the 2017 tax reform. And while he doesn’t like the “Medicare for All” or government-run health system solutions championed by some of his potential Democratic opponents, he does believe in a public option for those who cannot afford health insurance. So far as I can tell, he’s a reformer in this area, not an innovator. He hasn’t come up with any new health care regulations that would directly impact small businesses. As such, his policies would likely maintain stability for our health care costs.
3) Restaurants, grocery stores, cannabis and gun shops should be concerned.
Bloomberg believes that the public sector can do more to control people’s unhealthy behaviors. As mayor of New York City, he pushed through legislation banning sugary drinks (which ultimately failed in the courts) and smoking in most restaurants in bars. He is also a primary financial backer behind Everyone for Gun Safety, a major rival to the National Rifle Association, and wants significantly more aggressive controls over gun sales.
He is also against legalizing marijuana, probably for health reasons. Small businesses in these industries may find themselves at risk of federal initiatives under a Bloomberg administration that could threaten their sales, add regulations and increase costs.
4) Taxes would go up.
Bloomberg is not a supporter of his opponents’ more aggressive plans to tax the wealthy. But neither is he a fan of 2017’s tax reform act, calling the bill an “economically indefensible blunder that will harm our future.” Bloomberg has long supported more investments in education, infrastructure and health care and does not believe that tax cuts would “jump-start the economy” or that they will lead to higher wages and growth.
As mayor of New York City, Bloomberg oversaw increases in property taxes to their highest levels in its history (although he also was able to secure rebates for many residential homeowners). I’m hoping to see more details of his tax plans. But suffice it to say it’s likely that under a Bloomberg administration small businesses will see their taxes begin to rise again, albeit slowly and mostly on higher earners. (Then again, how could they really get any lower?)
5) More immigrant labor will be available, and more entrepreneurs would stay.
For those businesses suffering from labor shortages, particularly shortages caused by the Trump administration’s hardline stance on immigration, a Bloomberg presidency would be a welcome respite. Bloomberg has long-opposed efforts to limit immigration, saying that the Trump administration has been “hurting small businesses by keeping people out from all around the world who want to start businesses,” and that forcing entrepreneurs to leave the country is “the most insane thing I’ve ever heard.”
Although we haven’t heard many specifics about what immigration reforms Bloomberg would champion, it’s likely they would be less drastic than Trump’s and not only provide relief to many small businesses looking for labor, but also opportunities for many immigrant entrepreneurs to stay and grow their businesses.
6) He would continue a pro-business environment in Washington.
One of the greatest drivers of small business confidence in the economy has been Washington’s support – rather than disdain – of business during the Trump administration. While some of his actions may present more challenges to small businesses, Bloomberg, a successful businessman himself who has been significantly involved in programs supporting small businesses, such as the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Businesses initiative, would undoubtedly continue a positive disposition towards wealth creation and entrepreneurship should he win the White House.
We know that Bloomberg is vehemently opposed to many of the current administration’s policies — and 100 percent opposed to the current president’s behavior. So it’s assured that a Bloomberg presidency would bring more calm and professionalism to Washington, along with a better relationship with Congress. As with many of the other candidates, Bloomberg hasn’t provided specifics to back up many of his positions. There are other areas that affect small businesses – from defense spending to the budget deficit to his attitude toward the Federal Reserve and the financial community – where he still needs to be more forthcoming.