At the first round of Democratic debates, which took place over two days at the end of June, candidates tended to focus on multinational corporations, and failed to spend any serious time on startups and the issues that matter to entrepreneurs most. They'll get another shot this week, as the second set of debates, involving 20 of 24 candidates, is set to take place in Detroit on July 30 and 31.
While there is no stated debate theme, the presidential contenders are expected to weigh in on everything from the latest mass shooting to Robert Mueller's testimony to the candidates' various plans to package Medicare for All. Also highly anticipated: California Senator Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden will get a rematch over racial inequality in America on day 2 of the debates.
As for your burning questions--which, if you're running business, likely revolve around taxes, immigration, and trade--it's hard to judge if they'll get proper due. In case they don't, here's where some of the candidates now stand on those issues.
Immigration is one of the most prominent topics in the 2020 race. Authorities detained 268,044 migrants between October 2018 and March of this year, which is nearly double what it was a year ago, according to the New York Times. For entrepreneurs, the issue is top of mind--particularly among those looking to fill positions in an overheated job market.
Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was the first candidate to release an extensive immigration proposal. Among other things, his plan, which he published on Medium in April, would create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers--undocumented individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children--and their families. Beneficiaries of programs like Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure would also be eligible for citizenship.
Further, Castro would rescind Trump's travel ban--which prevents some immigrants, refugees, and visa holders from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen from entering the U.S. He would also restore refugee admissions, which Trump cut by a third this year, to 30,000 people. He didn't, however, elaborate on how he would create those pathways to citizenship, nor did he address how much his programs would cost or who would pay for them.
Lastly, Castro wants to increase the number of H-1B visa recipients, which is currently capped at 85,000 annually. The visa program allows highly skilled workers to come to the U.S. for up to six years. It's unknown how high he'd raise the cap; a spokesperson did not respond to Inc.'s request for comment in time for publication.
While most candidates support eliminating the Trump administration's trade tariffs, which now are levied on everything from office furniture to solar panels, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has offered the most comprehensive trade plan of the bunch. She agrees with Trump that cracking down on China is important, but they differ in their approach.
Since taking office, Trump has threatened to impose duties on various trading partners, including China, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. China has taken the biggest hit, with tariffs of up to 25 percent on $250 billion of the country's imports.
Whereas Trump has threatened to penalize China--and by extension, U.S. businesses and consumers who purchase goods from the country--Warren would instead promote buying American-made goods. In her policy, which she published on Medium in June, she suggests imposing new mandates for the government to buy American-made goods whenever possible. It's unclear how she'd incentivize U.S. consumers to purchase American-made products, however.
Also counter to Trump's stance, Warren has called for strengthening the Export-Import Bank--an independent federal institution that provides financing to U.S. companies. Doing so, she says, would help the U.S. better compete with similar international agencies and promote the sale of goods from more American small- and mid-size businesses overseas. In 2017, Trump tried to undermine the agency by nominating former Representative Scott Garrett (R., N.J.), an open critic of the bank, to lead it. His nomination was eventually blocked.
Additionally, Warren wants to consolidate existing government programs aimed at job creation. For example, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, among others, would merge into a new agency called the Department of Economic Development. That unified agency is expected to promote policies that prioritize job creation and worker training programs. She also supports shoring up the country's R&D spending to keep American inventors stateside. She has some controversial views on how to redirect funds generated from that increase in spending to taxpayers, which Sharon Poczter, an entrepreneurship professor at Yeshiva University and Inc.com columnist, says could hurt startups.
Most Democratic candidates in the 2020 race support reversing Trump's Tax Cuts and Job Act--the sweeping tax law passed in 2017 that reduced the corporate tax rate to its lowest level since 1939. Their views on what should replace it vary or are still underdeveloped, however. Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard may be the best candidate for entrepreneurs worried about taxes. While few details are known presently, she promises to cut taxes for small businesses and farmers while raising them for corporations. It's unclear how Gabbard would treat small companies structured as S- and C-corps. A spokesperson did not respond to Inc.'s request for comment in time for publication.
Additionally, as a veteran, she vows continued support for the 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. In 2017, she introduced the Veterans Jobs Opportunity Act, which would award a tax credit to veterans launching businesses in underserved communities. The bill, which is now in committee, would provide a 15 percent credit for startup costs that don't exceed $80,000.
Warren would rescind the Trump tax cuts, too, but she would add a new 2 percent tax on households with assets of $50 million or more. She estimates that plan would net $2.75 trillion in tax revenue over a 10-year period. Warren wants to use that money to fund her other big ideas, like canceling the $640 billion worth of outstanding student loan debt, which she says is a drag on the economy. Additionally, she'd use the tax revenue to make all four-year and two-year public universities free for students.
Harris also would beef up taxes on wealthier Americans. She proposes a 4 percent income tax on households earning more than $100,000. The proceeds, she says, would go toward establishing her Medicare for All plan, which would allow the purchase of government-administrated Medicare plans alongside private insurance policies. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders would pay for his version of Medicare for All, which adopts a single-payer system almost exclusively, by levying a 4 percent income tax on households earning more than $29,000.