HILLARY CLINTON: A Small Business Snapshot on the Issues

By at 25 September, 2016, 5:30 pm

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D) is the former U.S. Secretary State and Senator from New York. Where does Mrs. Clinton stand on key small business issues?

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says "I want to be the president for small business." She says

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says, “I want to be the president for small business.” In meeting with entrepreneurs she asserts the climate for small businesses has “become more difficult” with “more red tape, unnecessary regulation.” Will Clinton’s policy platform relieve these burdens and help small businesses grow and succeed? (Photo courtesy of Hillary for America, Facebook page.)

On the campaign trail Clinton said, “I want to be the president for small business.” She talks about the growth of regulation and red tape, as well as America’s poor competitive ranking (46th in the world, according to the World Bank) when it comes to ease of starting a business. Clinton says the climate for small business has “become more difficult, more expensive” with “more red tape, unnecessary regulation,” which has dampened economic growth.

Hillary’s Small Business Agenda

In August 2016, Clinton released a set of principles and policy ideas dedicated to small businesses. These policies would “level the playing field for small businesses,” according to the campaign.

Previously, the campaign released a brief blueprint, “Four Ways to Jump-Start Small Business,” on the website noting the importance of focusing on tax simplicity and relief, regulatory reform, export opportunities for growth, and expanding access to capital. On the other hand, Clinton also supports new regulatory policies that place additional burdens, costs, and requirements on the private sector – including small businesses.

Here is a quick rundown on some key issues:


Clinton notes the high costs faced by small businesses and proposes to expand and simplify the Affordable Care Act’s health care tax credit for small employers up to 50 employees. The campaign website notes that copays and deductibles have skyrocketed, and Clinton says she will work to lower out-of-pocket costs. The campaign website, also says “we need to demand lower drug costs.”

On her campaign website, she refers to “strengthening” the Affordable Care Act and lowering health care costs in general terms. She says she will defend the Act from attempts to repeal it. 

In the Past: While her husband was president, Clinton led the effort for extensive government control of the health care system. At that time, in response to charges that small businesses could not afford her plan and jobs would be lost, she declared, “I can’t be responsible for every undercapitalized entrepreneur in America.”

A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Health Care Reform:

Small Business and the Affordable Care Act at Five Years

Obamacare Ills Are Mounting

Repairing Obamacare for Small Business


With regard to small business taxes, Clinton say she will provide relief and “simplify the rules so small businesses can track and file their taxes as easily as filling out a checkbook.” The specifics do not go beyond that. She would quadruple the start-up deduction.

Clinton has provided other details on taxes.  On September 22, 2016 she proposed hiking the top death tax rate to 65 percent.  Clinton has not talked about fundamental tax reform, but this infographic outlines some specifics on taxes: “reforming the tax code so the wealthiest pay their fair share,” and “reform capital gains to encourage investing for the long term instead of the short term.” As noted previously, she has mentioned tax simplicity and relief for small businesses, but has not provided many details other than “targeted tax relief” and to “simplify filing.”

According to her campaign website, Clinton supports ending the “carried interest” loophole.  She would also enact the “Buffett Rule” to ensure that “no millionaire pays a lower effective tax rate than their secretary.” Clinton called for doubling the short-term capital gains tax rate to end the “tyranny of the short-term investor.”

In the Past: On a host of issues while in the Senate, including the death tax, capital gains taxes, and the alternative minimum tax, Mrs. Clinton voted against these tax relief proposals.

A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Taxes and Tax Reform:

Four Big Points on Tax Reform

Five Quick Rules on Tax Reform for Entrepreneurs and Small Business

Is Tax Reform Still Possible?


On reducing regulation, Clinton’s campaign website notes that she would undertake a nationwide effort to reduce red tape at every level of government. Specifically, she would leverage federal dollars to encourage localities to streamline licensing requirements and systems. To improve access to capital for small businesses, Clinton says she will reduce regulation on community banks.  Clinton says she will push federal agencies to be more “user-friendly” and more sensitive to small businesses in the rulemaking process.

On regulatory issues, her positions emphasize additional government rules for the American workplace. This includes her support for raising the minimum wage to $12 per hour. Clinton also supports the Obama Administration’s efforts that have changed overtime rules.

• Paid Family Leave: According to the NBC News report, Clinton said, “We are the last developed country in the world that has no national paid leave for parenting or illness.” The campaign website says businesses will not pay for Clinton’s leave proposal: “No new business or employee mandate. Hillary’s plan will not impose additional costs on businesses, including small businesses. There is no business or employee mandate to pay for leave, nor is there a payroll tax to pay for it.” It will be paid for by the wealthy paying “their fair share.”

• Equal Pay Mandates: According to the NBC News report, Clinton said, “We’re going to, I hope, continue to push legislation that would make equal pay more enforceable.”

• Wage and Financial Regulation.  According to The New York Times Hillary Clinton on the Issues page, Clinton supports the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, and favors an increase in the minimum wage. In the Senate, Clinton voted in favor of a higher minimum wage.

In a New York economic policy speech, Clinton said the current rules for the economy only “reward some work.” To be “paid fairly,” she said, “we do need to raise the minimum wage and implement President Obama’s new rules on overtime.”  The infographic on Clinton’s website, outlines these priorities and others, including: strengthening the Affordable Care Act, fighting “wage theft,” more support for unions and collective bargaining, earned sick days, fair work schedules, and encouraging companies to share profits with their employees.

A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Regulatory Reform: 

Fixing the Nation’s Broken Regulatory System

Stop the Empty Rhetoric on Regulatory Reform

Outsized Regulation Always Slams the Little Guy: This Time it’s the FCC’s Oppressive Internet Rules

Small, Community Banks Suffering Under Dodd-Frank

The NLRB vs. Small Business America


On the New York Times Hillary Clinton on the Issues page, it is noted that Clinton supports government action to deal with climate change, and favors a cap-and-trade regulatory system.  During her time in the Senate, Clinton regularly voted for increased government energy mandates and regulations, and against opening up oil exploration and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

Clinton announced her opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. She called it “a distraction to the important work we have to do on climate change.”  She is championing clean energy through government regulation and other policy incentives.

A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Energy Policy: 

Four Big Points on Energy Exports and Small Business

Energy: America’s Future and Competitive Advantage

U.S. Energy Infrastructure Needs

The Energy Outlook and the Agenda to Expand Opportunity 

Who Benefits from America’s Energy Revolution 

U.S. Energy Exports: A Big Economic Plus 


Clinton announced her opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, a deal she championed as U.S. Secretary of State. As she said to Judy Woodruff on PBS, “As of today, I am not in favor of what I have learned about it.”

CNN captured Clinton’s elusiveness on international trade. A May 19 CNN report noted:

“Hillary Clinton took aim Tuesday at two core components of a massive free trade pact that President Barack Obama is negotiating — signaling some agreement with the deal’s liberal critics. The Democratic front-runner in the 2016 presidential race said she wants to see rules included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would penalize countries for driving down the value of their currencies in order to give their exports a price advantage in the U.S. market. And she said she’s concerned about a provision that would give ‘corporations more power to overturn health and environmental and labor rules than consumers have.’ ‘I think that is a problem,’ Clinton said during a roundtable event in Iowa, when one woman participating in the event asked her about the deal. It’s as close to staking out a clear position on the trade deal that Clinton has come — though she left wiggle room Tuesday. ‘I want to judge the final agreement. I have been for trade agreements; I have been against trade agreements,’ she said.” Again, Clinton was one of the leading drivers of the TPP when Secretary of State.

In the Past: In addition to championing the TPP as Secretary of State, Clinton voted against the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) but voted for agreements with Oman, Singapore, and Chile while in the U.S. Senate.

A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Trade: 

Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs Benefit from Trade

Four Big Points on Trade and Small Business

Advancing Free Trade: Clear Upsides, Especially for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses

Free Trade Agreements, Small Business and Imports

Free Trade Agreements, Small Business and Exports


On immigration, the New York Times Hillary Clinton on the Issues page reports that Clinton supports President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.  According to the NBC News report, Clinton also favors a more comprehensive fix, and recognizes potential economic benefits of such a remedy.

She has noted: “We are really missing out on economic opportunity because we haven’t been able to agree on comprehensive immigration reform… We are saying to all these other people who want the same dreams and the same aspiration and the same willingness to work hard just like our families did that, ‘No, we’re not going to … make it legal for you.’”

Clinton provide additional information on the direction of her immigration reform strategy on her campaign website.

A sampling of SBE Council’s positions and views on Immigration and Reform: 

Entrepreneurship, Immigration Reform and the Economy

Immigration Reform and Entrepreneurship

Startup Visas and Strengthening Entrepreneurship

The U.S. Must Welcome Immigrant Entrepreneurs


SBE Council’s KEY VOTE Ratings of Congress

During her tenure in the U.S. Senate, Clinton scored 7% in 2001-2002, 21% in 2004, and 9% in 2005 on SBE Council’s Vote Ratings of Congress,

Sources:, Hillary Clinton’s campaign website, NBC News, The New York Times,, CNN (here and here), and C-Span (July 13 Economic Policy speech)CNN Politics, The Hill, New York Post.

SBE Council will update this profile as warranted.


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