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In 2018, Trump must be the small-business champion he claimed to be

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President Donald Trump’s first year in office was deeply disappointing for small business owners. While he promised to advocate for small employers when he took office, he instead focused on a tax bill that benefits large corporations far more than Main Street small businesses.

But 2018 is an opportunity for a fresh start, and if President Trump truly wants to tackle small business issues this year, there are several key policies he could promote that would help America’s job creators succeed.

{mosads}First, small businesses need expanded access to responsible sources of capital. A 2016 report from Harvard Business School titled “The State of Small Business Lending” found the small business share of loans fell from 31 percent in 2010 to 21 percent in 2016.


The report also found many large banks have stopped making loans under a certain threshold, usually $250,000, ignoring the vast majority of small businesses that seek funding below this threshold.

To address this gap, Congress should maintain and expand Small Business Administration (SBA) lending programs and the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. Last year, President Trump proposed devastating cuts to the CDFI Fund, which would have virtually eliminated one of the best sources of responsible capital for small businesses.

Second, health-care marketplaces must be bolstered. This includes guaranteeing payments to insurers for cost-sharing subsidies, which help many solo entrepreneurs and small business employees afford health coverage.

Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have proposed bipartisan legislation that would be a great first step in bolstering the gains small business have seen under the Affordable Care Act.

The administration should also avoid taking steps that would make it easier for associations to offer health plans to small businesses, as these plans don’t have to follow rules requiring the coverage of essential health benefits and allow for insurers to charge different premiums based on things like gender or pre-existing conditions.

Allowing these association health plans to enroll more small businesses or self-employed individuals would likely create separate risk pools, undermining the small group market and raising costs for small businesses with older or sicker employees.

Third, we hope lawmakers will address critically needed infrastructure improvements. Not only do small businesses anchor the supply chain for infrastructure initiatives themselves, they run the hotels, coffee shops, restaurants and other businesses that serve the people working on these projects.

The federal government must support infrastructure improvements, particularly projects that would directly benefit small business commercial enterprises.

Finally, policymakers should work to make retirement savings and paid family leave programs more available to small employers, since most small employers don’t have the resources to offer these benefits.

When it comes to retirement options, we support state efforts to establish publicly administered retirement savings programs so more small businesses and their employees can access retirement plans.

To boost the availability of paid family leave, our opinion polling has found that small business owners overwhelmingly support the FAMILY Act, legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), which would provide partial wage replacement for small business employees to access parental leave or to handle serious health conditions for themselves and family members.

Most of the programs currently enacted by states don’t burden small businesses because they are funded entirely by modest employee contributions.

Small businesses are the foundation of America’s economy, generating the vast majority of new private-sector jobs and spurring innovation in all sectors of the economy.

Many of these policies outlined above have bipartisan support and are simple steps President Trump, his administration and Congress could take to encourage an inclusive and thriving economy.

John Arensmeyer is the founder and CEO of Small Business Majority, a small business advocacy organization. 

Tags Business Community development financial institution Donald Trump economy Entrepreneurship Heidi Heitkamp Kirsten Gillibrand Lamar Alexander Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Patty Murray Small business Small Business Administration

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