From loan access to corporate taxes, several 2020 presidential candidates have touched on issues that affect small business owners as they gear up for the election. Here is where some of the front runners stand. 

Joe Biden

Biden has not said much in terms of small business, but he did support the American Jobs Act in 2011 as Vice President. The legislation cut payroll taxes and loosened regulations on small businesses that wished to raise capital while retaining investor protections. 

While he may not have an extensive record of supporting small businesses, he has given many speeches since leaving office on improving the middle class and stated that he supports a “pro-growth, progressive tax code that treats workers as job creators, not just investors” in a 2018 speech.

Bernie Sanders

According to Sanders’ website, he believes that “small business is the driving force of America’s economy.” The presidential candidate has worked to push policies that give small businesses access to low interest loans such as the Small Business Jobs Act that he helped pass in Vermont, as well as measures that increase access to high-quality education such as universal childcare and tuition-free public universities. 

Sanders advocated for  “laws to hold small business loan interest rates to the same rate offered by the Federal Reserve to foreign banks” in his Six-Point Plan to rein in Wall Street. 

He also defends Net Neutrality as he considers it vital to providing small businesses the “same opportunities as multinational corporations to build their businesses and access customers.” 

Elizabeth Warren 

Warren believes “small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy.” She unveiled a plan just before Tax Day that would level the playing field for small businesses by closing tax loopholes and preventing big businesses (such as Amazon) from paying “a lower effective corporate tax rate than smaller companies.”

She has hosted the annual Massachusetts Business Matchmaker in her home state, which hundreds of small business owners attend to participate in workshops and networking. 

Warren also proposed a plan to support minority-owned businesses through a $7 billion initiative that would provide grants to business owners who are eligible for the SBA 8(a) program and have a household income of less than $100,000. 

Kamala Harris

Harris has not announced any proposals pertaining to small businesses during her campaign, but in 2014 she helped small and mid-size businesses protect themselves against cyber attacks as Attorney General of California by issuing recommendations on ways to prevent malware and data breaches

Beto O’Rourke

O’Rourke unveiled a plan in June to “spur the development of 200,000 new women- and minority-owned small businesses” by unlocking “over half a trillion dollars” in resources.

“Beto understands the unique challenges facing small business owners – and that those challenges are only heightened for women entrepreneurs and people of color,” his website reads. 

O’Rourke’s website also says he would “appoint a Consumer Financial Protection director who will prioritize implementing regulations that will make it easier to fight discrimination against small business owners who are women and people of color.” 

Cory Booker

As a member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Sen. Booker hosts forums in New Jersey where small business owners can network, share best practices and learn about available government resources. 

Booker’s website says he “believes that the federal government has an important role to play in helping American businesses – particularly small businesses- succeed and create more jobs.” 

He introduced the Startup Opportunity Accelerator Act to “direct $25 million in funding over five years to a Growth Accelerator Fund, which would allow startup businesses to compete for grants to help their businesses grow.”

Pete Buttigieg

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Buttigieg recently announced a policy to help minorities start businesses. The policy would allow those who qualified for the Pell Grant to defer their student loan payments if they start a business. Furthermore, if they have three to five employees within five years, their loans would be forgiven. 

Buttigieg partnered with Accelerator for America in 2018 to attract investment in areas of South Bend that weren’t generating economic growth (dubbed “Opportunity Zones”) with the use of tax incentives. 

“As we further experiment with new ideas and refine our approach to economic development, we hope other cities can learn from ideas that have succeeded in South Bend, and vice versa. Now – perhaps more than ever – cities have to lead for their own people, and have to engage with each other to create progress at scale,” Buttigieg said on his website. 

Andrew Yang

Yang released a Timing of Payments for Small Business policy, which aims to address the issue of big businesses “spurring cash flow issues” by “stalling payments” to smaller contractors. 

“As president, I will work with Congress to pass a law requiring any company with more than 1,000 employees or more than $50 million in annual revenue, if fulfillment is not in dispute, to pay any invoice from a company with less than $5 miliion in revenue or fewer than 100 employees within 60 days of the date agreed upon or pay a rate of 7% annualized interest per month on the overdue payment,” Yang’s website reads. 

Yang added on his website that he knows from personal experience how it feels to be “stuck waiting forever for a giant client to get around to paying” and said big businesses shouldn’t “use small businesses as an unofficial credit line.” 

Amy Klobuchar

Sen. Klobuchar, along with Sen. Tim Scott, announced in March the creation of a bipartisan entrepreneurship caucus that will work to figure out why the creation of new businesses has declined over the last thirty years and write policy around the findings to fix the issue. 

“New businesses are the engines that drive economic growth, but fewer and fewer startups are launched every year,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “Establishing the bipartisan Senate Entrepreneurship Caucus will allow Congress to work with entrepreneurs across the country to stimulate innovation, create jobs, and move the country forward.”

Kirsten Gillibrand

Gillibrand has a history of advocating for small businesses. In 2018 she wrote the Main Street Employee Ownership Act, which gave the U.S. Small Business Administration the ability to help small businesses moving to an employee stock ownership plan by allowing the companies to take out loans and use them to buy shares from shareholders before dividing the shares among their employees. 

She also introduced the Microloan Modernization Act, which would provide loans to and help women and minorities who are having trouble obtaining loans from banks. The bill is currently awaiting House approval.

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