Seven ways Trump and Congress can boost small businesses
With President Trump’s third State of the Union address scheduled for next week, many Americans are wondering if this will be another year lost to partisanship and electoral politics or if there is hope for real legislative action on issues of importance to them. The bipartisan passage of the trade pact known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) provides an opportunity to build on that compromise and deliver results for the American people.
Small business owners and self-employed Americans are the lifeblood of the country’s economy. According to Everlance, the explosion of gig economy workers — such as driver’s for Uber and Lyft — is part of a growing self-employed demographic, which now represents 33 percent of the economy. It shows that by this year, nearly 27 million workers will have left their full-time jobs to start businesses, bringing the number of self-employed entrepreneurs in the U.S. to 42 million.
As entrepreneurship continues its steady growth and the demographic of work keeps evolving, there are seven areas where both sides of the political aisle in Congress can work together — and with the White House — to achieve support for the small business community:
1) Retirement options: Many small businesses don’t have the same retirement benefits and opportunities as large corporations. We must implement creative retirement options for small businesses, such as those included in the recently passed bipartisan SECURE Act, so that all Americans can retire with dignity regardless of job, status and employment structure.
2) Tax equity and simplification: With the nation’s new tax code now in its third year, it is important to build upon it by continuing to reduce the tax burden on small businesses, while also streamlining the tax code to make it easier and simpler to file annual tax returns.
3) Health care: We need to strengthen the Affordable Care Act by making access to health care more affordable for small business owners. Last year’s Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) rule change was a good start, but we must find additional options for small businesses to gain coverage, or to ensure their continuity of coverage.
4) Predatory lending: In an attempt to expand business operations, small business owners often seek loans. However, some lending entities use practices that are unfair or abusive, leading to loans that are unwanted, unaffordable or predatory in nature, with high interest rates and hidden fees. Policy leaders must not only crack down on these lending agencies, but also implement policies that protect borrowers and their businesses.
5) Access to capital: With the recent Senate approval of Jovita Carranza to lead the Small Business Administration, we must focus on opening new lines of capital by not only making sure the process is easy to apply for, but also that small businesses readily receive the money in a timely manner to invest in starting or growing business operations.
6) Promoting entrepreneurship: With the creation of each new small business, someone steps out of the unemployment line and into self-employment. We must continue to support, reward and foster the growth and expansion of new and existing small businesses through positive public policies.
7) Deregulation: The Trump administration and Congress have worked to cut many regulations affecting small businesses that prevented them from getting ahead. However, many regulations continue to hamper small business owners’ ability to grow, expand and save money. We must cut more red tape and burdensome regulations, such as unnecessary and excessive licensing requirements, to allow them to spend time on business operations and not just government paperwork.
Even during an election year, with a high-profile impeachment trial under way, these seven opportunities to achieve bipartisan policy fixes to support the mom-and-pop businesses throughout America could go a long way toward rebuilding trust in the workings of government. These are not major public policy changes; rather, they represent small opportunities to come together and show the political will to support small businesses and our national economy.
America’s small business community is not a Republican or Democratic demographic; it represents Americans as a whole. Many business owners around the country share the hope that President Trump and Congress can come together and cooperate to find solutions to issues that impact millions of American families.
Keith Hall is president and CEO of the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), which represents more than 27 million entrepreneurs and advocates on behalf of the self-employed and micro-business community.