Presidential Candidates and their Small Business Platforms

Entrepreneur Magazine has an excellent article in this month’s issue about the two presidential candidates and their views on helping small businesses thrive. It is surprisingly well balanced, and has a good summary of the small business views of Kerry and Bush.

Senator John Kerry (who has served most of his 20 year career on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship) said that the biggest issue facing small business today was access to health care:

<blockquote>John Kerry: **“…[health care costs] shot up 47 percent under this administration and prevent small businesses from expanding their work forces. On the Senate small-business committee, I have consistently supported allowing self-employed individuals to deduct 100 percent of their health-care costs, [and] I also worked with Sen. John McCain [to] give small businesses a health-insurance expenses credit.”</blockquote>*

Although the President did not provide Entrepreneur with an interview, his top small-business advisors did. They echoed Kerry’s assertion of health care as the top issue, but left out any policy specifics:

*<blockquote>
Megan Hauck, Deputy Policy Director of Bush/Cheney ‘04:** The rising cost of health care—costs are borne more by small companies. Our solution is not just government help; it’s doing things to empower the private sector. We want to give more [health-care] options for more people. There isn’t one panacea [for health-care costs]—there isn’t going to be one approach that works.</blockquote>


One of the interesting tidbits: Kerry used his time on the Small Biz committee to increase small firms’ access to federal contracts, and this year he introduced legislation that would increase the federal government’s requirement for the amount of contracts they must provide to small companies to 30%. As President, he says he would improve on this by forcing a reduction of “bundling” of smaller contracts into a single large contract that can only be handled by larger businesses.

The Bush team, on the other hand, focused their discussion around tax cuts (cuts in the dividend tax, for example, have been well-received by small business for obvious reasons) but also echoed Kerry’s remarks about bundling, although they stopped short of saying that the President would attempt to pass legislation to limit the practice.

As for taxes (an area where Kerry is weak in comparison to Bush’s record) Kerry is on the record with a recommendation of a 5% cut in corporate taxes. Bush has said that he favors lower corporate tax rates, but has not offered specific proposals for cutting them. (Based on his past performance, however, one can assume that his cuts would be at least as deep.)

Whether or not you’re undecided in this election (and I know almost nobody who’s undecided this time around) you should check this article out. Again, it’s well-balanced and unbiased, and presents a clear view of each candidate’s views on how to re-invigorate small businesses.