What Could the 2016 Presidential Election Mean for Small Business?

Author: Caron Beesley | January 13, 2016

Election year is finally here. Regardless of where your affiliations lie, as a serious business owner, you should take each candidate seriously—but where do they fall on small business issues such as taxes, financing, healthcare, and more?

Given the positions currently held by Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in current polls, this post will focus exclusively on their small business political agenda. Links to the pledges of other candidates can be found at the bottom of this article.

Here’s a roundup of where the two leading candidates stand on small business issues:

The Big Picture

First, let’s take a look at both candidates in the context of small business, starting with Donald Trump. Love him or hate him, small businesses love Trump. According to Inc.com, 41% of small business owners viewed Trump as the best candidate—a double-digit lead over Clinton. Writing for The Huffington Post, Gene Marks offers some interesting ideas on Trump’s appeal to small business owners, check it out here.

On the democratic side, Clinton claims to be “the small business president.” As the daughter of a small business owner, her position is clear: “To make it easier to start and grow a small business in America.” Gene Marks offers some further insightful reading on how Clinton is trying to do just that.

Moving on to the issues…

Taxes and the Economy

Tax cuts are a key pillar of Trump’s campaign pledges. “No business of any size, from a Fortune 500 to a mom and pop shop to a freelancer living job to job, will pay more than 15% of their business income in taxes.” Read more about his tax proposals.

Clinton, on the other hand, specifically zeroes in on the tax burden experienced by small businesses with 1–5 employees. These businesses spend 150 hours and $1,100 per employee to comply with federal taxes (20 times higher than the average for larger firms). Clinton aims to simplify tax filing and deliver targeted tax relief to small businesses, rather than big corporations.

Access to Capital

Trump’s plans to drive small business growth rests very much on his tax proposals, whereby business owners will have more cash on hand to reinvest into their businesses.

Clinton, however, is implicit in her pledge to ease regulatory burdens on community banks. Small, local banks are a critical source of capital for small business owners (they provide over 50% of small business loans), and they’re under threat.

A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond revealed last year that the number of community banks had dropped by 41%. Commentators argue that regulations like the Dodd-Frank (Wall Street Reform) Act have piled up regulatory costs on banks that don’t pose the financial risks to the market as the “too big to fail” banks, hindering small business access to capital. “The big banks don’t need relief from Washington—small banks and small businesses do,” says the Clinton website.


The Clintons have long been advocates of healthcare reform, and Hillary’s stance hasn’t changed. Her intent to defend the Affordable Care Act against Republican efforts to repeal it is backed up by factoids that defend her pro-small business healthcare stance, such as co-sponsoring legislation that provides tax credits for small businesses for premiums. Going forward, she intends to lower out-of-pocket costs on co-pays and deductibles while reducing prescription drug costs.

Trump is less specific in his plans. Although he has repeatedly vowed to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something else, he hasn’t provided details and his campaign website doesn’t offer a position on the issue either.

The Rest of the Pack

Read about how the other candidates stack up on small business issues:

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