After a long, contentious, and heavily covered race to the U.S. presidency, the 2016 campaign cycle is coming to end in only a few weeks. Chances are you’ve been overloaded with news and commentary and—whichever candidate you support—you’ll be somewhat relieved after the results are announced on November 8th.
But that doesn’t mean you should tune out until then. Between the candidates’ platforms, tax plans, and stances on topics such as healthcare, immigration, and consumer protection, there are important issues at stake that may directly affect your organization and industry.
Which election issues matter most to entrepreneurs?
As a business owner, you have several political agenda items to consider before you vote on Election Day:
What will the proposed healthcare reform mean for your small business?
The Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010 and commonly referred to as “Obamacare,” made healthcare a focal point of political discourse—in large part because of its effects on America’s businesses. Some business owners support the Affordable Care Act for providing employees with mandatory insurance coverage, while others complain that the law places an excessive financial burden on employers.
Have you analyzed each candidate’s tax plan?
Although virtually every presidential candidate in recent history has pledged to make taxes more advantageous to small businesses, tax plans vary wildly by administration when it comes down to the details. A business owner would be wise to scrutinize each candidate’s proposals to determine:
- The tax breaks and incentives for business owners
- Which types of taxes will be increased
- Whether income brackets and business categories are changing, and if so, to what extent
How will federal regulations impact your industry?
From safeguarding consumer privacy to providing accommodations for disabled employees, companies are subject to all kinds of federal regulations, though some industries are more regulated than others. The two major parties fundamentally disagree about the scope and authority of these regulations and the agencies in charge.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which lawmakers established in 2010 as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Republicans believe the CFPB has too much unchecked power over financial institutions, while Democrats argue for the agency’s necessity and seek to sustain it—if not expand its influence.
Where do you stand with minimum wage?
Several states have recently passed legislation increasing state minimum wage, and the subject is a hotly debated one in Washington as well. A federal minimum wage hike is not simply an issue of cost versus savings, but large-scale economics and government intervention.
Some business owners advocate for raising the minimum wage, citing that better pay increases productivity and reduces turnover. Others contend that a $12–15 minimum wage would put their organizations out of business or cause them to lose their competitive edge domestically and globally.
What about federal loan availability for rising entrepreneurs?
Do you believe it should be easier for business owners to borrow credit? A “yes” or “no” answer places you firmly on one side or the other of the political spectrum. The parties’ stances on banking regulations and Wall Street reform tell you a lot about what the availability of loans under their administrations would look like, but there’s more to the story than that.
Aside from the candidates’ promises to promote small business growth, the various outcomes of the election could have significant reverberations on the economy, as consumer attitudes shift and lenders become more or less confident as a result.
Does your small business depend on international trade?
Speaking of broad economic impact, each candidate’s attitudes on international trade could weaken or strengthen U.S. businesses, depending on your perspective. It may be easier or more difficult during the next few years to establish overseas corporate partnerships, reach consumers in different countries, and sell products and services all over the world.
What’s your take on immigration & the startup visa proposal?
According to the Partnership for a New American Economy, over 40% of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants. America’s policies on immigration fuel innovation and competition, which aren’t necessarily net-positive or net-negative effects for each and every company.
While border control is a deeply personal issue for many on all sides of the debate, there’s a business case to be made either way—so long as you can differentiate the facts from the rhetoric.
Where can you go for detailed information about each candidate?
In the next few weeks, take the time to educate yourself on each candidate’s positions. Here are a few resources that will help you start researching before you cast your vote:
- Compare the candidates’ stances on key issues at ProCon.org.
- Use Fundera's interactive graph to figure out which candidate would make the best president for you based on your political leanings and standings on jobs & wages, business in the U.S., spending at home, and trade economics.
- Check out PolitiFact’s rundown of how each candidate’s presidency may impact the economy: “Clinton has literally decades of experience in the domestic and international policy trenches. Befitting this background, she has offered a wide range of detailed proposals on everything from renewable energy goals to sick-leave guarantees. […] By contrast, Trump is a novice in electoral politics but an experienced CEO. He has offered specifics on a few issues, such as taxes and trade, but for the most part, Trump’s web pages on the issues offer broad statements rather than details.”
- Watch Bloomberg Politics’ Steve Yaccino break down Clinton and Trump’s economic plans.
- Read Entrepreneur’s five-point comparison of Clinton and Trump’s tax plans: “There are many businesses right now that pay little or no tax under the current tax laws. Real estate holding companies, research and development companies, oil and gas developers, agriculture and mining all enjoy major tax incentives under the current tax laws. Presumably, all of these incentives would remain under the Clinton tax plan, as she seems determined to maintain the status quo. On the surface, Trump’s plan is clearly better for business, but the question is whether it will be better for your business.”
- Dive into a detailed comparison of each candidates’ tax proposals at TaxFoundation.org.
- Read “The Entrepreneur’s Case for Trump” (Wall Street Journal): “The rise of Donald Trump has exposed a deep chasm in America between the haves and have-nots. I could go on, but you have probably read that story by now. You’ve also likely read about conservatives who think that stopping Mr. Trump is the only way to save their cause. I’m here to explain why they couldn’t be more wrong. What principled conservatives fail to understand is how the nation would benefit from putting a right-leaning entrepreneur in the White House...”
- Read “Why I, A Woman Tech-Entrepreneur, And Immigrant, Am Voting For Hillary” (Huffington Post): “Hillary, as the first woman to be a presidential nominee in the U.S., will certainly leave her legacy behind for her perseverance, compassion, and inner strength. I cringe when I think how she will be subjected to the ugliest political invective and insults in our history, partly because she is a woman. It is time we stop castigating Hillary and give her the opportunity to lead our nation and uphold and elevate American values.”
- Economists calculate how the candidates’ proposed policies would affect the economy by increasing federal debt, at crfb.org.
- Read about the ramifications a Clinton or Trump presidency could have on small businesses, per our friend Sujan Patel, writing for Inc.: “One of the most appealing things to Donald Trump supporters is the perspective he brings as a business owner; a perspective that isn't marred by lobbyists and political favors. Many business owners feel like the country needs the fresh, non-political perspective of Trump, given the state of the current economy.
“On the other hand, some small business owners, like Brian Smith of Brooklyn's Ample Hills Creamery, think Hillary Clinton is better suited for the job. Smith's company is trying to secure a bank loan for a factory. He told CNBC that he believes Clinton's proposals will make it easier to allow business owners like himself to secure capital for expansions. This is a critical issue for small businesses in the U.S.—lack of cash flow is the number one reason businesses fail.”
If at any point during your research you wonder how certain regulations and tax codes will affect your specific business don’t hesitate to contact us. Our small business finance experts are here to answer any questions you may have.