(This post originally appeared on The Hill)
I just don’t get it.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is facing off against a candidate that even his supporters agree can oftentimes be irrational, unpredictable, vulgar and unprofessional. But his opponent – President Trump – is also heavily favored by the great majority of small business owners I know and work with. Why?
It’s because Trump’s policies are simply more business friendly. He’s anti-regulation, anti-environmental and anti-labor. Sure, he favors big businesses, but then again it’s the big businesses that provide so much livelihood for small businesses, not to mention that their employees spend their wages at pizza shops, restaurants and their local dry cleaners. Trump wants less government oversight (to wit, his opposition to ObamaCare) and lower taxes. As such and under his administration, the U.S. economy – up until COVID-19 – was in the midst of a significant expansion and experiencing historically low unemployment levels. Under Trump, small business confidence – as well as our profits – soared.
So, Joe Biden, who I believe has many good qualities as a presidential candidate, has a big job to do. He must convince America’s small business owners – a voting block of about 30 million – that he’s their supporter too. He must demonstrate for them all of the pro-business policies we can expect to see under a Biden administration. He must assure us that we will be able to recover, hire and grow. So, what does he do?
He forms a committee.
Yeah, that’s right, a committee. Or as he calls it: a small business advisory council. In a big media announcement dutifully covered by the Washington Post, Biden’s campaign announced a council made up of small business owners, both low and high profile (former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang is one of them) and some ex-Obama-era small business administration officials like Karen Mills and Maria Contreras-Sweet. Oh, and a preponderance of ice cream store owners because he loves ice cream, and no, I’m not making that up. He’s also running a few ads and expressing his love and support for small businesses at selected campaign stops.
Yup, that’s it. That’s his outreach, and it’s simply…awful. It’s weak. It’s toothless. And I just don’t get it.
I don’t get it because Biden’s policies will increase corporate taxes as well as individual and capital gains rates, plus the amount we owe for FICA taxes. He also supports phasing out the pass-through deduction from the 2017 tax reform act that’s enjoyed by many small businesses owners once they reach that “wealthy” status — those making more than $400,000 per year. “I’m not trying to punish anybody,” he said at a campaign stop in Charlotte. “It’s time everybody started to pay their fair share.” Is that what you say when so many small businesses are suffering right now?
To add further salt to the wounds, Biden is pushing for a $15 an hour national minimum wage, an increase for overtime pay, more restrictions on independent contractors and a return of the regulatory-laden ObamaCare rules. He’s supported by unions, environmental and labor groups who are arguing for more restrictions on employer practices. All of these things will be more costly for small businesses if he’s elected and certainly give many of these 30 million voters a big pause for concern.
So, where’s the meat? Where are the specific proposals that will help small businesses? What legislation will he put forth? What government programs will he create?
We got none of that. But we do have a small business “advisory” council and ice cream. Yay! Oh, and we also get complaints about President Trump for not giving out more aid to small businesses, specifically another round of the Paycheck Protection Program. I’ve got many complaints about President Trump, but this one isn’t on him. It’s on Congress.
Meanwhile, Trump pushes for fewer regulations, lower taxes and a return to the booming markets, free trade and lower unemployment rates that we enjoyed before COVID. And once a vaccine is out and things get back to normal, we may very well see that. Unfortunately, and under a second Trump term, we’ll also see the repugnant tweets, the manufactured chaos, the fueling of violence and the continued divisiveness.
Small business owners will have a big decision to make this November. Do we vote for someone – the president – whose business policies will obviously make us more money in the years to come even though he’s impetuous, immature and potentially corrupt? Or do we vote for a candidate – Joe Biden – who will bring more normalcy and respectability to the White House despite the fact that his biggest contribution to helping small business owners during this unprecedented downturn is to form a committee?