Well first let me thank all of you in particular our round table participants for being with us today and thanks to Bike Tech for welcoming us to this amazing facility. I'm delighted to have this chance to talk more about small businesses. But I want to begin with what's happening more broadly with America's economy and America's families. Because I've always believed fundamentally that when our families are strong, our country is strong.
And we've come back from very tough economic times. I don't need to tell anybody here that. Our economy and our country are in much better shape today, and in large measure because families worked so hard. They took extra jobs, they skipped vacations, they scrimped and they postponed going to college they saved and made it work.
But the deck is still stacked for those at the top.
People aren't getting a fair shake. Something is wrong when CEOs earn more than 300 times than what the typical American worker earns and when hedge fund managers pay a lower tax rate than a truck drivers or nurses.
I'm running for president because everyday Americans and their families need a champion and I want to be that champion. I want families to do more than just get by — I want you to get ahead and stay ahead. I want to make the words "middle class" mean something again.
Now, small businesses like Bike Tech and the ones you'll here about today have to be at the heart of that effort — creating jobs, driving growth, and giving millions of Americans the chance to live up to their God-given potential.
Now, I did not learn this from politics — I learned it from my father who was a small business man. He had a very small business, printing drapery fabrics and then went out and sold them. My mother, my brothers and I and occasionally a few day laborers would help out with the actual printing process. That's what put food on the table and gave us a solid middle class home.
Today, small businesses all over our country have worked their way back from the perfect storm of the crisis, when sales and credit, together, dried up at the same time. Businesses are finally starting to sort out how they can grow again, add jobs, and planning for the future.
But the deck is stacked here as well. Ask any small business owner, as I have, and they'll tell you: It is wrong that it is so easy for big corporations to get a break but so hard for small businesses even to get a loan. It shouldn't take longer to start a business in America than it does in Canada and France! But that is the fact.
I want to be a small business president. A president who does make it easier to start and run a small business in this country, so it seems less like a gamble and more like an opportunity. We have to level the playing field for our small businesses.
First, we need to cut the unnecessary red tape that costs small businesses time and money and keeps new entrepreneurs out. We should scrub federal regulations to find responsible ways to make life easier for small businesses, and we should offer new incentives to state and local governments to do the same, because that's where many of the obstacles still lie.
Second, we need to simplify tax filing and provide targeted credits and deductions for small businesses, not just the big corporations that can afford the lawyers and lobbyists to find every single loophole.
Third, we'll use technology to expand access for small businesses into new markets, whether it's across town, across the state, or across the world. That's what I did in partnership with eBay in Upstate New York when I was a Senator. We started a public-private partnership to help small businesses that had never sold beyond their local community reach customers very far away.
Fourth, and I want to emphasize this today, I will fight to level the playing field for small businesses so they can get the financing they need to build and hire… including women and minority entrepreneurs who face extra barriers. And this morning when I was reading the Des Moines Register — big head line: REPORT: Iowa Ranks Last for Women Owned Business. This could not be a more timely article for our discussion today and although it says Iowa has made some progress it says Iowa has seen the lowest growth in the most businesses owned by women from 1997 to 2015 and women owned companies have the least economic clout in Iowa and all the states and the District of Columbia. So this is a very important issue for our whole county but I think it is especially important for our friends here in Iowa because access to credit can be as important to growing a small business as it is for the big ones.
And you shouldn't have to be a Fortune 500 company to get a loan.
For many small businesses these loans have always come from community banks with deep local ties. But today those same local banks are being squeezed by regulations that don't make sense for their size and mission. Like endless examinations and paperwork designed for banks that measure their assets in the many billions. And when it gets harder for small banks to do their jobs it gets harder for small businesses to get their loans. We can ease these burdens for community banks without harming consumers — and without easing up one bit on the Wall Street. We should not apply the same restrictions on community banks as those needed by the big banks.
Let's be clear about this: It's not the big banks that need relief from Washington — it's small banks and small businesses. We should be doing more to rein in risky behavior on Wall Street and "Too Big to Fail," banks not less.
I fully support the regulations in Dodd-Frank on the big banks but we should pass common sense community banking reform right now, however, the republicans in the congress insist on using this issue to give relief to community banks as a Trojan Horse for rolling back the protections for consumers and rolling back the rules for the big banks — as we're seeing right now in what Republicans are introducing — we should call it what it is: a cynical attempt to game the system for those at the top.
Our goal should be helping community banks serve their neighbors and customers the way they always have. To make it easier to give our responsible loans to responsible small businesses so they can do what they do best, create jobs and help families get ahead.
So I'm eager to hear the ideas from everyone around the table. And I see some elected officials in the audience and am eager to hear your ideas. What are the obstacles you've faced and how can you overcome them? What more can we do to help small businesses grow?