Small businesses are the backbone of our nation’s economy. Over 90% of businesses fall under the category of small and medium-sized businesses, and are responsible for nearly 2 out of every 3 jobs created. But small businesses are not only where we see the majority of job creation. It is also the area of the economy where the vast majority of key innovations are conceived and developed driving true sustainable growth, essential to maintaining our ability to compete and thrive in a developing world economy. Basically, protecting small businesses and nurturing an environment that encourages more and more Americans to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams is critical to ensuring a strong, dynamic economy for all American workers and employers. As a small business owner, I can attest that pursuing my dream of starting a mediation practice is one of the best and most fulfilling decisions of my life.
Larger businesses also play an important role in our economy, especially right here in the Fifth district. The Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area is home to 18 Fortune 500 companies, tying with San Francisco and far outpacing similarly sized areas. While small businesses drive innovation, larger businesses provide stability. These institutions tend to have a longer track record and a greater ability to weather the ups and downs of the market. They also can provide communities they choose to invest in with long term financial security.
The challenge we face as a nation is to nurture an environment that encourages business development, expansion, and innovation while at the same time improving wages, critical benefits, and working conditions. This demands a healthy balance of regulation but also partnership. It is the job of the government to set certain expectations for workers’ rights and compensation, and how a business must consider the communities, people, and environments they affect. It is the job of businesses to be successful, creating wealth, healthy work environments, and prosperity for their employees and stakeholders.
I’m determined to reform our national minimum wage. Simply put, when businesses like Walmart routinely report high profits, while their employees collect SNAP benefits, they are simply not paying a fair wage. I support creating a National Living Wage, tied to inflation, so a person can at least pay the bills with one full-time job. A national living wage will not harm businesses. Businesses need customers and customers need to be able to afford their products. This wage increase is a great way to expand the purchasing power of those on the lower end of the income scale, as well as those in the middle who would see a labor market-driven increase as well. A national living wage is also meant to level the playing field so that companies that have chosen to pay fair compensation already, aren’t competing against those that won’t.
It is also critical that we take immediate steps to correct the errors of the Trump presidency and reset our position on global trade. America First has become America Alone. Going it alone is not how we should lead the world and it does not serve our country’s workers and business’s best interests. A robust global trade network reduces costs and encourages innovation, but the key is everybody playing by the same set of rules, developed in harmony with our values. I support ending the costly and unnecessary trade war with China by removing current tariffs and restarting efforts to establish a Trans-Pacific trade agreement. By leveraging the trade of numerous economies on the Pacific Rim in a multilateral arrangement, we can improve environmental and labor standards globally, protect our intellectual property, and build stronger relationships with our South American and Pacific neighbors.
I believe we need to responsibly hold businesses more accountable for the real costs of doing business that the taxpayer has had to shoulder, while freeing up needed resources we can then use to invest in our workforce, public works, and more. For example, I support implementing a carbon tax principally for large businesses, the revenue of which can then be directly invested into overhauling our nation’s energy and transportation infrastructure to create a truly clean, green system for the 21st century. This not only will provide the funding needed for such a large scale investment, but accurately and fairly distributes the cost of the endeavor to now include businesses, not just individuals. It also provides stimulus to the overall economy through construction and expanding new sectors in energy and beyond, while the tax is gradually implemented to minimize disruption.
Lastly, the ability to start your own company, grow that business, and build wealth for your family and your community must be equitably distributed. Unfortunately, many barriers still exist that make this harder for women and people of color. I believe we need to invest resources specifically to encourage minority and women-owned small businesses to form and flourish. We can do this through government-driven business loans that push against the inequity already present in banking, but also by partnering with community banks in minority communities where folks are more likely to be approved. We also need to expand services that educate new entrepreneurs on how to open and manage their businesses, particularly in the area of financial literacy. Together, in partnership with businesses large and small, we can build a more just, equitable economy that works for everyone.