WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said Democrats must work to curtail the “entrepreneurship gap” at the Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday, clashing with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on how to build business equity.
“That is a gap between white entrepreneurs and black and Latino entrepreneurs,” Warren said. “And the principal reason for this is they don’t have the money for equity to get the businesses started.”
Minority-owned businesses have been growing, with the number that have paid employees rising by 4.9% from 2014 to 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There are currently 7.9 million minority-owned firms in the United States. Still, the U.S. Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency found minority-owned businesses are less likely to be approved for financing than white owned firms, receiving smaller loan amounts and higher interest rates — all barriers to financial success.
Warren said she wants to end that disparity in part by implementing a two-cent wealth tax on those whose net worth is more than $50 million.
“It’s about a $7 billion gap,” Warren said. “We want to have real entrepreneurship and a level playing field. I have a plan to put the $7 billion in to have the fund managed by the people who are routinely cut out. It can’t just be about taxes.”
Bloomberg said the federal government should encourage banks to build branches in low income or predominantly minority areas. As mayor of New York, he said, he helped implement mentoring programs for young business owners and seed capital programs.
“There’s ways to fix this and it doesn’t take trillions of dollars,” Bloomberg said. “It takes us to focus on the problems of small business.”
Hannah Oliver Depp, owner of Loyalty Bookstore, an independent chain in Washington and Maryland, said the government should make equity and credit more accessible for minority business owners.
“If you look at where small businesses thrive internationally, the governments are heavily involved in regulation,” Depp said.
For more on Depp’s experience founding Loyalty Bookstores, check out the video below.
The debate, the last before voters in New Hampshire cast their ballots in the state’s Primary Tuesday, came in the wake of a disappointing Iowa Caucus for the Biden camp which saw the former Vice President finish fourth, behind liberal Democrats such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
For months, Biden supporters have argued the former Vice President is the only candidate in the race with the political capital and recognition to defeat President Donald Trump in a general election.