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President Donald Trump often spoke about supporting small businesses during his campaign. But has he been fulfilling those promises? And what would those promises, fulfilled or not, mean for your business?
Small businesses certainly feel under the gun. The National Federation of Independent Business said in Forbes that “the extraordinary costs and complexity of regulations falls hardest on America’s small and independent businesses.” The group also said that regulations have been in their top three concerns in the past 8 years for business owners.
But small-business owners may be divided on whether Trump will have a positive impact, with different results from several surveys giving mixed results.
Forbes surveyed small-business owners in January. 40 percent of respondents said in the survey that they believed Trump will positively impact their business. 33 percent believed his administration will have a negative impact; 27 percent say they were not sure yet. When the survey was conducted in January, only 27 percent of small business owners had approved of Trump’s performance so far.
But another survey from January said small- and medium-sized businesses are more optimistic. The survey from JPMorgan surveyed 1,400 executives, 80 percent of whom “said they were optimistic about the national economy,” Business Insider reported.
And yet another indicator seems to show that “small and medium-sized business owners are giddy,” as CNNMoney says, pointing to the National Federation of Independent Business Index of Small Business Optimism being at its highest level since 2004.
“The data reflects the expectation among small business owners that things are about to change for the better,” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg said in the NFIB’s monthly report. “Now it’s up to the president and Congress to follow through—our data will quickly reveal whether small business loses faith.”
Even a prominent Trump critic had had some praise for him. “Trump is trying to do some things right,” billionaire Mark Cuban said in a tweet in mid-February. “Taxes, lobbyists, bureaucracy, FCC, SEC. If he can get the changes passed, they are positives.”
Here’s a look at some of Trump’s business-related actions and promises since he took office.
One of Trump’s first moves in office was to sign an executive order aimed at decreasing regulatory costs for small and medium enterprises. On Jan. 30, a Trump tweet accompanied a photo of Trump surrounded by small-business owners in the Oval Office. “The American dream is back. We’re going to create an environment for small business like we haven’t had in many, many decades!” he tweeted.
Roughly, the order says that for every new rule implemented, at least two other rules have to be eliminated “to the extent permitted by law.”
The Hill said the order “is an important first step in easing the regulatory burden weighing down America’s small businesses.”
And a small-business owner said that people in her situation would definitely benefit from less red tape. Construction business owner Joy Weatherup Anthis told NPR, “If there was one regulation in the process that we would be able to somehow get through it, but there’s one on top of the other on top of the other. You feel like you’ve gotten to the end of the requirement, and then there’s – oh, by the way, one more thing to do, which, frankly, is what the president, I believe, is trying to do – is to make only the regulations that are in place essential regulations.”
But skeptics say there are holes in the legislation.
“The fact that the president has said you have to sacrifice two rules for every new rule you’re adding is certainly not going to be an adequate reason for eliminating a particular rule,” Environmental Defense Fund lawyer Sean Donahue told Forbes.
Trump has vowed to slash the federal corporate tax rate. As Inc. said, “business owners across the U.S. are following Trump’s tweets, speeches, and executive orders closely–eager for any indication that he’ll make good on campaign promises to cut the federal corporate tax rate in half.”
Trump has not yet released details on what his tax cut will look like, other than telling a group of airline CEOs that there will soon be an announcement that is “phenomenal in terms of tax”. On the campaign trail, he said the federal corporate tax rate should be lowered to 15 percent or 20 percent from the upper range of 35 percent.
“Doing large-scale tax reform is still a difficult thing, and it does involve winners and losers.” — Joseph Rosenberg, senior research associate at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center
Inc. speculates that tax bills may drop. Or they might just stay the same, depending on whether Trump is able to enact the tax cut. Import taxes might go up to make up for the shortfall in federal taxes, and federal business tax credits may also go bye-bye to make up for that shortfall.
The Affordable Care Act
Trump has called for the ACA to be dismantled, claiming it is a burden on small and medium businesses. As Forbes claims, small businesses’ relationship with the ACA “has been love-hate depending on the size of the business.”
The Forbes survey of small businesses found that slightly more than half (52 percent) don’t want the ACA to be repealed and replaced, however. The reason? Fifty-five percent of those respondents told surveyors that they believe health insurance should be widely available, and 52 percent said they don’t want anyone to lose health insurance. Forty-eight percent want the ACA gone, and 43 percent of those respondents said they think it does not work.
After only a couple months in office, the jury is still out on how Trump will impact small- and medium-sized enterprises. Trump still has much to prove. He faces the challenges of enacting his campaign promises, and then must see if his actions actually help or hurt SMEs.
But for now, some believe that it will all turn out OK in the end. As one business owner said in Inc., “I’m excited about whatever Trump’s tax plan is. He’s a businessman.” Only time will tell.