NEW YORK, NY: Democratic Presidential candidate Tom Steyer attends “Hot Mic with Brittany Shepherd” … [+]
Tom Steyer isn’t exactly lighting a fire at the polls. In fact, the billionaire investor won less than 1% of the votes cast in the 2020 Iowa Caucuses, far behind Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders, who were neck-and-neck at the top. However, small business owners might like what they see if they were to examine his financial success and support of entrepreneurship.
Steyer made his fortune with Farallon Capital, a San Francisco-based hedge fund firm known for taking high risks on distressed assets in volatile markets. When he left the company, Farallon was managing $20 billion in assets.
“I spent 30 years building a successful global business. To beat Trump, we have to beat him on the economy, and I have the experience and expertise to show that he is a fraud and a failure,” Steyer said during the January 15, 2020, Democratic debate.
Prior to declaring himself a candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination , Steyer was the co-founder and co-CEO of Beneficial State Bank (formerly One PacificCoast Bank, FSB & OneCalifornia Bank), grew from the vision of Tom Steyer, Kat Taylor and the team they formed in 2007 to create a bank and a supportive nonprofit foundation of the same name. The nonprofit community bank provides loans to people and small companies shut out by the traditional banking system, including businesses and nonprofits that are owned by people from under-served and historically oppressed groups.
Beneficial State Bank offers business checking accounts, SBA loans and commercial real estate loans, lines of credit, and online cash management tools designed for small business owners. By statute, the bank invests all profit back into the community.
Although he made a fortune in business, Steyer says he favors raising taxes on the wealthy and plans to “undo every Republican tax cut for rich people and for corporations.” He supports affordable healthcare and other progressive policies that pursue economic and environmental justice.
If he wins the presidency, Steyer says he would “enact comprehensive structural reform, so corporate lobbyists and special interests no longer control our democracy.”
Labor unions are a powerful check on corporations, and Tom will support their right to organize for worker protections, such as a $15/hour minimum wage, an increased earned income tax credit, and expanded retirement benefits. – TomSteyer.com
Unlike many of the candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination, Steyer’s experience and credentials are based on his success in business as an investor and his willingness to use his vast wealth to support progressive causes. While he has not passed legislation that targets small business, Steyer has direct experience in supporting entrepreneurship as a bank executive with Beneficial State Bank, which makes loans to small business owners in disadvantaged areas. For that, he has unique experience as a candidate.
However, some of his policies could be hurtful to small business owners.
For instance, the Economic Agenda page of Steyer’s website says: “Labor unions are a powerful check on corporations, and Tom will support their right to organize for worker protections.” The interests of organized labor and small business owners do not often align. Further, his support of a $15 federal minimum wage will increase the cost of doing businesses for small companies that may no longer be profitable as labor costs rise.
Steyer brands himself as “a progressive and a capitalist,” and believes that “unchecked capitalism produces market failures and economic inequities” and calls Donald Trump “a co-conspirator in perpetuating unchecked capitalism.” Specifically noting on his campaign website that “Socialism isn’t the answer,” Steyer stands in contrast to self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders.
Past Leadership: A
Future Plans: B-
Overall Grade: B