No modern president has really been good for small business. Or even fair for small business. Because all the provisions they made, with headline grabbing legislatiion, were overcome by the increased tide of regulation and big business subsidies.
The whole process became corrupted by the 1964 landslide victory of Lyndon Johnson. At that point, big business, seeing the coming election victory for liberal Democrats, began to donate to both parties in earnest. They have done so ever since. It is no longer accurate to refer to GOP as the party of big business.
With Johnson’s victory and a spate of new federal regulations many giant corporations stumbled onto a new way to achieve monopoly, namely, by supporting regulations that small businesses could not afford. Economic regulations, social engineering that included regulations for hiring, special tariffs, even environmental regulations could all be used to squeeze out small business competitors.
Right on its heels came the resurrected power of lobbies, stronger than ever before in American history, allowing big business to secure billions in government subsidies for various contrived purposes. Thus for years McDonalds got millions from taxpayers, claiming that it needed the money to compete with French hamburger chains who – you guessed it – had French government subsidies, while the small American business hamburger joint down the street paid taxes to support McDonalds, their big business competitor.
All of this came home to me in its full fury during my time as special assistant to the president in the GHW Bush White House. The American Disability Act was upon us and it struck me as odd that the reps of major corporations were in the Roosevelt Room of the West Wing, using their power and influence to urge a lower threshold for compliance. At one point they wanted businesses with only 5 employees to be forced to meet all the requirements, ramps for wheel chairs, special phones and all the rest.
Why? Were these big businesses concerned for the disabled?
No. They wanted to drive up costs of small business competitors by saddling them with burdens that only big companies could afford.
In the Robber Baron days, the monopolies would lower the price to drive off competitors and then raise the price when they had the market all to themselves. Today, they seek to drive up the price through government regulation and thus keep competitors out of their market.
Finally, to complete the triad and the corruption, big businesses began to hire large public relations firms who in turn hired former prosecutors, FBI agents and other government operators to use new laws and government agencies and editorial favors from media to destroy small businesses who posed a competitive threat. This process accelerated as the world went global and corporations found themselves operating in countries where the media and the government were for sale. But with enough money and advertising revenue, the process works even here.
Small businesses are tolerate as long as they remain small, very small. And even then if they get in the way, they will be crushed.
See Entrepreneurs list of the Top Presidents for Small Business.