Here Are The Issues Important To Women Entrepreneurs Voting In The Midterms
We’re four weeks out from the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. While many reporters and polls are (cough: rightly) framing the November 6 contests as a referendum on Donald Trump and the Republican party, or a potential sequel to 1992’s Year of the Woman, there are some lesser-talked about storylines that are of particular importance to female entrepreneurs.
Here are key issues for our startup community, as well as a few non-partisan resources for you to read more about specific candidates and ballot initiatives in your area.
Many women have student loan debt, as we’ve reported on here at Spinster. That’s the bad news. The (very tiny) silvery lining is that the issue is getting to be so critical that politicians can’t ignore it anymore. So, they’ve started talking about possible changes to the existing education finance structure. There’s the Trump Administration’s proposal to update the repayment system - which could impact your monthly payments. There’s the Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act, which would make student loans eligible to be included in a bankruptcy filing - something that you currently aren’t able to do. And there are several proposals around the idea of incentivising employers to help pay their employees’ student loans (whether this would just apply to your employees, or if there is a way to apply to your own loans as an owner remains to be seen). Plus, there are always various conversations around how to finance higher education - especially important for you boss ladies who want to get another degree, or brush up your skills at community college.
This one is, as they say, a “biggie.” The Affordable Care Act - which was signed in 2010 - allowed employees to break free from the “job lock” the need to stay in a corporate jobs without losing benefits like health insurance or retirement savings, and spread their entrepreneurial wings. But, as we know, the ACA remains a huge dividing line between the left and the right, and access to quality healthcare in the US is closely linked to your employment status. Though the law has become more popular with time, many Republicans still want to - and have - chipped away at its effectiveness, often citing an unnecessary and unfair burden on small businesses. It’s a tough issue - as an employer, it certainly can be more costly, but access to affordable health insurance outside of a corporate job can be a deal breaker for someone looking to make the leap into entrepreneurship. Wherever you stand on the ideology, it’s important to know where your candidates stand too.
Paid Maternity Leave
The U.S. is one of only a handful of UN member nations that doesn’t have a national paid paternal leave law - meaning that there is no required financial assistance from the government or employers for new parents. The issue has been bubbling up in Democratic platforms for years, but the Trump administration was the first Republican ticket to include paid parental leave in their budget. It seems like this might be a rare area of (almost) bipartisan consensus, though the policy specifics need to be hammered out before anything comes to pass. This means we likely won’t see a national law signed for… awhile. A national parental leave policy could, in theory, work in a number of ways. It could be enacted like the minimum wage - something that companies will need to build into salaries and overhead. Or it could take the form of a subsidy that comes from the government - meaning that even entrepreneurs would be eligible. However, it’s important to know where your state and national candidates stand, as this is a debate that is likely to continue in the near future.
While taxes touch almost every part of American life, the corporate tax code is of particular interest to entrepreneurs. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was considered by many experts to be favorable for business owners, as it cut the corporate tax rate and adjusted the types of deductions that can be taken. However, some of those breaks aren’t permanent - meaning you’ll see the impacts this year, but maybe not next.
This one is especially important for entrepreneurs who import or export materials and/or final products overseas. The Trump Administration - trying to protect US industries, like steel - has imposed a series of tariffs on certain goods from other countries. Those countries have, in some instances, retaliated with tariffs of their own on goods like alcohol and textiles. And while the tariffs in theory benefit the industries they’re meant to protect, the costs inevitably trickle down to consumers and other small business owners. Unlike larger companies, small businesses - with razor-thin profit margins - often cannot absorb the increased costs.
Finally, vote with the knowledge to be confident in your decision. The first step is making sure you’re registered to vote (note: the deadline has already passed in some states). Then, learn more about the candidates in your area, and issues on the ballot in your district (check out Ballotpedia and Vote-USA, both non-partisan resources to get facts about positions with no spin). Finally - get out there and VOTE on November 6. Democracy - and maybe even your business - depends on it.