For the last few months, we’ve been hearing from Republican presidential hopefuls about their economic plans during the debates. Now it’s the Democrats’ turn.
The first Democratic debate will air on CNN on Tuesday night in Las Vegas. And while there will be five candidates on stage, the real contest will be between frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, who dominate in the polls. (The most recent Quinnipiac University poll, released September 25, puts Clinton at 45 percent among registered Democrats, to Sanders 25 percent. The remaining candidates barely register with likely Democratic voters at one percent or less.)
While the debate lacks the unruly and unpredictable star wattage of Donald Trump, it’s likely to be a spirited event nonetheless. Debating has been one of Clinton’s fortes for decades, and Sanders simply loves to stump. With plenty to offer small business owners on issues ranging from the minimum wage to gender disparities in the tech world, the discussion is sure to be relevant for you.
What's more, the debate is liable to be more substantive. As opposed to the Republican field, which is still plentiful with candidates, the first Democratic debate is likely to be more manageable. The other candidates include former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb, and former Rhode Island Senator and governor Lincoln Chafee.
Here are six key issues to look out for:
1. Incentives for small businesses
In May, Clinton released a four-point plan for small business owners. These are expanding access to capital, reducing tax compliance burdens, creating new markets, and reducing regulatory burdens. She’s likely to make a pitch about that. For his part, Sanders has a long record of backing entrepreneurship, including his support of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, which broadened the scope of many Small Business Administration loans. It also helped beleaguered car dealers with financing opportunities and expanded federal contracting opportunities.
2. The minimum wage
Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley have been vocal supporters of raising the federal minimum wage from its current rate of $7.25 an hour. While O’Malley and Sanders say they favor a $15 an hour wage all around, Clinton has hedged, saying she favors a wage that high in cities that can afford it, like New York and Los Angeles.
3. Trade deals
Although Clinton did much during her time as Secretary of State to grease the wheels for the current Transpacific Partnership, she’s recently done an about face and says she no longer supports it. Sanders has been somewhat more consistent, and has always opposed trade deals, starting with NAFTA in 1993, which he voted against while in the House of Representatives.
4. Equal pay for women
It’s one of Sanders' platform points, and Clinton has been an ardent supporter of women’s rights since her famous remarks in China in the 1990s. They are also likely to discuss the gender gap in Silicon Valley for top engineering jobs, as well as the need for more women and girls to enroll in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education.
5. Reining in corporate abuse
Sanders has said since 2008 that the big banks must be broken up to prevent a repeat of the financial crisis. Clinton reportedly aknowledged that critique last week when she called for upping the penalties for malfeasance in the financial industry, including prison sentences for wrongdoers.
6. Regulating startups
In a speech this summer at New York’s New School, Clinton said the so-called Gig economy--created by tech darlings Uber and Airbnb, among others--represented exciting opportunities. She also suggested that worker protections needed to keep up to make sure that those classified as contractors are not being taken advantage of. Sanders has suggested he’d push tougher regulations for such companies, and O’Malley has reportedly said he’d attempt to create a new safety net for gig workers.