Florida has more than 2 million small businesses with over 3 million employees. I'm proud to be the President and owner of one of them, Total Wine & More. Small business is critical to the national economy, creating nearly two-thirds of American jobs. Starting and growing a business remains one of the main ways Americans are able to raise their economic status.
In recent years, however, small business has struggled. Nationwide, new business formation has declined 15% since 2007. One reason, of course, is that banks tightened their lending policies after the 2008 crash.
Other factors contribute to this stagnation. Large businesses are squeezing their small business customers with aggressive expansion and higher prices for the goods and services small businesses need. Meeting new tax and regulatory requirements raises the cost of starting and expanding a business. Competition for qualified workers has become more difficult and expensive than ever before.
In this environment, the person elected President in November is vitally important to people who own and work for small businesses, and people who hope to start one in the next four years.
Many of these people probably share the common perception that Donald Trump would be the best candidate for small business. After all, he's a Republican, has a college degree in business from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and has been a visible member of the business community for almost half a century.
My examination of the candidates' plans for the economy in general and for small business convinces me that this impression is wrong. Hillary Clinton is the candidate who offers the best plan to help small business. In fact, it's not even close.
Trump's "Economic Vision" includes lots of rhetoric but few details. It has no meaningful discussion of how he might pay for his plans. If you expect a self-proclaimed "business candidate" to provide at least the outlines of a budget, you'll be disappointed by Trump. And his website includes nothing - ZERO - about policies for small business. We don't even get vague promises.
But where Trump fails, Clinton excels. Her website dedicates an entire section to small business. On August 24, she released a detailed plan about how it would work, including concrete steps to
• Make it faster and cheaper to start a business.
• Make it easier to get financing and find investors.
• Make it cheaper and faster to file taxes and pay for tax relief.
• Make it easier to offer health care and other benefits to employees.
• Make it easier to work with the federal government.
• Make it easier to fight back when you're getting stiffed.
For each of these, Clinton provides specifics that make sense to people who operate in the real world. One caught my eye is her plan for tax relief. The average small business spends 20 times more per employee than large businesses to comply with federal tax regulations. To remedy this, Clinton proposes to create a new standard deduction for small business, permit "checkbook accounting" for businesses with less than $1 million in gross receipts, permit immediate expense deductions for up to $1 million in new investments, and expand the start-up tax deduction by five-fold.
Her plan includes similar commonsense specifics for every category.
In short, as a small business owner, I've studied the candidates' plans and concluded that - contrary to common perceptions -- Hillary Clinton is the best candidate for business. If you're a small business owner, work for a small business, or hope to start one, I hope you'll do the same.
* David Trone is President and owner of Total Wine & More, which has over 150 stores in 21 states nationwide, including 27 in Florida.