Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been doing their best to appeal to business owners on the campaign trail. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently rolled out what she calls a job-creating package of reforms to jumpstart small business startups specifically.
Karen Mills, who serves as an informal advisor to the Clinton campaign, told Yahoo Finance that she believes Clinton can turn plans on paper into solutions that will have a positive impact on small business owners and workers.
“My experience in working with her over a whole number of years is that she’s really good at taking these ideas and figuring out how to make them happen on the ground,” said Mills, who also served in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet as the administrator of the US Small Business Administration (SBA) from 2009 until August 2013. “She knows it doesn’t matter if you have good policy if it’s not getting into the hands of small business owners.”
Small businesses—which create around two-thirds of all new American jobs—are key for economic growth, added Mills.
“Small businesses really are the backbone of the economy,” she said. “Half the people who work in this country own or work for small businesses … What that means in Washington is that small business has to have a seat at the policy table when you’re thinking about how to drive the economy.”
Clinton, whose father was a small business owner, has emphasized that her small business plan is a key priority and aims to appeal to the range of 28 million small businesses and entrepreneurs that come in different shapes and sizes.
“When she says she wants to be the small business president, she understands how important that is,” Mills added. “She’s saying it for a reason. This is how we’re going to drive the future, this is how we’re going to have innovation, this is how we’re going to have America grow.”
Access to capital
Small businesses got hit significantly during the recession and have yet to bounce back. For example, small business loans comprised only 29% of total bank loans in 2012 versus 51% in 1995.
“What happens in a financial crisis is that those entities that are credit dependent get hurt the most. And small businesses are dependent on banks,” Mills said. “What we saw was a fairly quick recovery for big business and for the stock market and a very slow and bumpy recovery for small businesses.”
The gap in access to credit is key, said Mills. To address the issue, Clinton’s plan proposes cutting red tape for community banks and credit unions. Clinton also has proposed allowing entrepreneurs to defer student loan payments with no interest while they get their ventures off the ground.
Mills added that the real gap is in small dollar loans and in underserved markets.
“If we don’t have what we call an inclusive view of access to capital, we’re not going to get all the jobs from all of these entrepreneurs,” she said.
Mills said Clinton has a unique way of looking at the relationship between small businesses and government, which has historically been strained.
“[Clinton] developed this idea of looking at small business as the customer of government,” Mills said. “When you do that, you think differently… She decided that’s a cornerstone of the way she’s going to operate, which from a small business perspective is exactly what small businesses need.”
Clinton’s plan includes a new standard deduction for small businesses like the one available to individual filers to avoid a large number of forms. She also said she would simplify and expand the health care tax credit for small employers in the Affordable Care Act, ensure better responsiveness from the federal government to small business needs, and to stop large companies from using expensive litigation hurdles that unfairly hurt small business.
Mills ultimately believes Clinton’s plan will help the “little guy” get the attention he deserves—and drive the jobs the US economy needs.