As Clinton sews up the democratic nomination for president on Tuesday with expected primary victories in pivotal states including California and New Jersey, the question of what she has in store for the nation's 28 million small businesses is important.
At the end of May, the former Secretary of State and New York Senator put forward her small business agenda with four proposals. She wants to expand access to capital, offer tax relief, cut red tape and help businesses reach new markets. These are noble ideas and highly useful. They're also nothing new.
President Obama issued very similar decrees throughout his presidency. To cut red tape, he inked several executive orders. He moved to speed the time it takes the federal government to process payments, as well as reduce regulatory burdens for some types of businesses. (Not hardly enough, his critics would argue.) Also under his watch, the Small Business Administration simplified the applications for various government-backed loans.
As for Clinton's approach, I'm still trying to wrap my head her idea for expanding access to new markets. (Her campaign didn't respond to a request for comment.) In her LinkedIn post, where she originally floated her proposals, she writes:
"Every American small business should be able to tap new markets--whether they are across their city, across their state, or around the world. Some American businesses are already doing this through new platforms, such as Etsy and Ebay."
If instead she wants to help companies attain better access to markets abroad or gain a greater foothold here in the U.S., let's have a real idea. Let's see some real (possibly even new) suggestions on how companies can make this happen.
I have no doubt Clinton cares deeply about the nation's small businesses. After all, she often crows in speeches and interviews that her father was a small business owner, a textile wholesaler in Chicago. She and her siblings used to help their old man with silk-screening fabrics, as she says. And as president she would have that opportunity because there are plenty of additional ways to, say, cut red tape even more and improve the tax system, which Obama hasn't addressed during his tenure.
Yet on balance, her ideas only scratch the surface of what companies need to survive and thrive today. Will being able to set up a business quicker really encourage entrepreneurs to start up? Will helping companies use eBay really boost sales?
Let's push ourselves. Let's stand behind today's current and would-be entrepreneurs with the full support of the U.S. government. We should not only get out of their way, we should embrace them. We can do better.
One of the only interesting (and dare I say novel?) ideas out of her camp, as it relates to small businesses, is her proposal to provide tax incentives to employers that offer apprenticeships and training programs. This type of aid could help convince employers to add additional workers. Any job expansion would be particularly beneficial for young people, who face high unemployment rates and mounting college debt. Entrepreneurs and small business owners consequently could benefit from the program as it may prompt them to hire and expand operations. That could encourage real economic growth.
As we move past the primaries, like you, I'll be eager to see if Clinton offers a better view of how she'd be the small business president. As of right now, she just looks like more of the same.