A Recession Waiting to Happen: New Jersey Member Takes on Donald Trump in New Web Ad

A Main Street Alliance of New Jersey member appeals to undecided voters

Today, Main Street Alliance released its first political web ad, featuring MSA Executive Committee member and small business owner Kelly Conklin.  

“Donald Trump is a recession waiting to happen,” Kelly says. “And on November 8th you have a choice, whether we are going to go ahead on a steady course or whether we are going to plunge the country into one of its darkest eras ever. The master of disaster or a proven entity who can do the job."

Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of MSA, said Trump’s behavior and business practices inspired the group to speak up.

"Donald Trump's rhetoric throughout the election has been toxic and dangerous. His almost glib explanations for his tax avoidance and bad business practices, and shirking small business owners he works with shows a misunderstanding of what it takes to make our economy thrive," said Ballantyne. "For that reason, we can no longer sit on the sidelines. We worked with our members to produce this video expressing the concerns of real small business owners who have earned their success by doing business the right way."

Transcript of full ad:

Kelly Conklin: When my wife and I started this business in 1978 we didn't get a million dollar loan from our parents. We bought a whole bunch of old machinery and worked our tails off. We built our business dealing honestly, and we didn't do it alone. We did it with our employees from all over the world. Immigrants from Europe, South America, Central America, and refugees from Vietnam. And those folks, many of them, have gone on to own their own businesses.

We've survived any number of ups and downs in the economy over the last 38 years. Unlike Donald Trump, we couldn't take a $900 million loss, not just monetarily, but ethically or morally. Given Donald Trump's shady business practices I'd be afraid to do business with him, let alone let him run the country.

His incoherent, inconsistent, and ignorant proposals and his proposal to yet again cut taxes for the wealthiest people in the world will further plunge our economy into uncertainty. Donald Trump is a recession waiting to happen. And on November 8th you have a choice, whether we are going to go ahead on a steady course or whether we are going to plunge the country into one of it's darkest eras ever. The master of disaster or a proven entity who can do the job.


Main Street Business Owners: Trump Got It All Wrong

When it comes to driving local economic growth and putting small business owners in the best position to succeed, Donald Trump missed the mark. 

On taxes, Mr. Trump couldn't be further from the views of Main Street small businesses. He brags of his massive and phenomenal wealth while skipping out on his taxes for decades due to manipulation of the tax code following nearly $1 billion in losses. 

“Trump has exploited the tax system for decades and threatens the safety nets in place to help struggling business and families. Taxes are a cost of doing business and are essential in funding the infrastructure my business depends on”, said Doron Petersan, the owner of Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats and Fare Well Diner Bakery Bar, in D.C. “Skipping out on your taxes year after year doesn’t make you qualified to rewrite our tax code, it qualifies you for an extended visit from the I.R.S.”

"Trump's recently released tax plan would only worsen the unfair U.S. tax system by disproportionately benefitting the highest-income earners and putting a strain on the rest of us. We need to move away from a system that has been manipulated by greed and self-indulgence to create a tax code that levels the playing field, said Matt Birong, the owner of 3 Squares Café in Vergennes, Vermont.

On immigration, Mr. Trump continued to lob insults calling many undocumented immigrants "bad hombres" and doubling down on the need to use tax dollars (to which he does not contribute) to build a wall to keep our customers, future business owners, and innovators out. 

“As an immigrant and the owner of an architecture firm, the walls I build are on homes, designed to keep families safe. We don't build walls designed to keep good people out. It's not how our country or our economy works. Trump's idea of an immigration policy would be a disaster for our country," said Francisco Garcia, the owner of The Building Workshop in San Diego. 

“This country depends on a strong immigrant community. Any ‘business’ person who uses these hard-working employees to make millions, but turns on them for political gain, is no leader to fit to hold our nation's highest office," said Alma Rodriguez, the owner of Queen Bee's Art and Cultural Center.

On access to capital, Mr. Trump shrugged off Mrs. Clinton's claims that he borrowed $14 million from his father to start his business. He corrected her, stating it was ONLY $1 million. For small business owners struggling to get the capital they need to start a new business or keep their business afloat, $1 million is not a sum to be shrugged off. 

"I lost my father at a young age, so getting a loan to start my business from him wasn't an option. I built my business from the ground up, the right way. By honoring my debts, investing in the community that supports me, and treating people with dignity and respect," said Ethel Taylor, the owner of Doggie Washerette in D.C. "Donald Trump could learn a thing or two from business owners like me."

On the issues facing small business owners, the businesses responsible for 2/3 of our nation's job growth, Mr. Trump struck out. Perhaps he should have formed his Small Business Advisory Council before this week.

Wait, the Trump Campaign Didn't Have Small Business Advisers Until This Week?

Just three weeks before the election, the Trump Campaign forms a Small Business Advisory Council. 

On Sunday, a mere three weeks ahead of the November election, the Trump Campaign announced its formation of a small business advisory council tasked with providing advice on the issues and solutions most important to small businesses.

“I think it’s great that Mr. Trump is interested in hearing from small business owners, but it's unfortunate that he is reaching out to us now, just weeks before the election,” said ReShonda Young, the owner of Popcorn Heaven in Waterloo, Iowa and Main Street Alliance Executive Committee Member. “We would have loved to help ensure his tax policy wasn’t just another giveaway to large corporations and the rich, and we would have put our foot down on his immigration stance. Instead, we have more of the same on taxes and an immigration policy that tears apart our communities and threatens our businesses.”

Mr. Trump has boasted his wealth and business acumen since entering the race last year, but he has lacked coherence on policy aimed to help small businesses. His small business tax cut was on the table, then off the table, and his immigration policy lacks even the most basic understanding of what fuels and drives our local economies.

“To the Trump Campaign, this council’s formation was probably better late than never, but to me, to real small business owners on Main Street, it shows the utter disregard he has had for us throughout his campaign and career,” said Paul Heroux, a retired painter in Orlando, Florida and Main Street Alliance National Action Committee Member. “Donald Trump made a business of screwing over small business owners, like The Paint Shop, in Doral, Florida”

Economy-boosting investments have largely been missing from Donald Trump’s policy platform, a shining example of why he should have put an advisory council together months ago. The tax breaks and regulatory lifts that motivate large corporations don’t work for Main Street. A 2015 report from Main Street Alliance, “Voices of Main Street” surveyed over 1100 business owners on the issues impacting their businesses. More than half of respondents noted customer acquisition as their most significant concern, more than double those concerned with taxes and four times the respondents that answered ‘regulations.’

“The Trump Campaign’s formation of a small business advisory council at this point in his campaign is hardly a gesture of good faith. The reality is that Mr. Trump thinks he is a business genius and that he can speak for us,” said Chris Petersen, independent family farmer and Main Street Alliance of Iowa member. “What he hasn’t realized is that the way we do business on Main Street couldn’t be further from his cut-and-run business tactics. He has a lot to learn over the next three weeks.”

Despite his big business experience, Donald Trump is out of touch with the needs of Main Street. If he prioritized small business success, he would have built our issues into his platform months ago. Instead, he offers the empty gesture of forming a small business council weeks before the election.

“I’m honestly shocked that the Trump Campaign just thought of forming a small business council, his opponent has had one for months,” said Megan Baker, co-owner of Orange Blossom Jamboree in Brooksville, Florida, and Main Street Alliance of Florida member. “Forming the council now seems more like an empty gesture than a real focus on the issues important to us. His policies are already written. His tax policy skews towards large corporations and the rich, his immigration policy is a mass deportation of members of my customer base and his position on raising the federal minimum wage won’t put more money in consumer’s pockets.”

Donald Trump Responds to North Carolina GOP Firebombing with Vitriol and Divisiveness

Main Street leaders campaign to stem the tide of hateful rhetoric consuming the national political dialogue and threatening local economies

Donald Trump chose to drive a wedge between us, following a violent act of vandalism at the Orange County North Carolina GOP Headquarters. With the identity of the perpetrators still unknown and their motives unclear, Mr. Trump took to Twitter calling them “animals” who “represented Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.”

Main Street Alliance believes the actions taken in North Carolina are un-American, and so too is the dehumanizing language and swift form of social media justice deployed by Donald Trump in response. In choosing to make such a statement, Donald Trump doubled down on the vitriol and fear mongering that helped secure him the nomination, while only adding to racial and political tensions.

Name-calling and publicly casting judgment on entire groups, based upon the actions of a few, have become a cornerstone of the Trump campaign. It’s a problem Main Street Alliance leaders have taken head on during the 2016 election with the #HateHasNoBizHere campaign.

The campaign encourages small business owners to make clear statements of principles to stem violence we saw this weekend in North Carolina. Business leaders in Minneapolis started the campaign from their restaurant, Common Roots Cafe, which caters to a diverse clientele, including the nation’s largest population of Somali-Americans.

Soon, the campaign stretched across the country, with business owners from Seattle to Burlington, Vermont, taking lead. The campaign aims to shed a light on the swell of hate and fear permeating our national dialogue as dangerous and bad for businesses and our local economies.

“Just being able to say, you know, hate has no business here is a good reminder to people that they should second guess this rhetoric when they hear it. They should say ‘wait a minute, this is just not correct.’ It’s all too easy to get sucked into the angry politics and not think about what it really means,” said Diana McLeod, the owner of Tradewinds in Burlington, Vermont. 

When a simple statement of condemnation and gratitude towards law enforcement conducting the investigation would have sufficed, Donald Trump resorted to insults and blame. Appearing incapable of exercising restraint, Mr. Trump once again chose to fan the flames of hatred. It’s that kind of hatred that Main Street small business owners should and will challenge at every turn, for the good of our businesses and our country.

"America must be a place where people from all nations, races and creeds seeking freedom and opportunity feel welcome and can build safe, prosperous lives for themselves and their families,” said Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of Main Street Alliance.  “When politicians and pundits target people in our communities for political gain, when they fan the flames of hatred and fear, it must be met head-on with clear statements of principle from local business owners as leaders in their communities.”

Despite Mr. Trump’s hateful and misguided reaction, North Carolina Democrats circulated a donation page via GoFundMe that has already raised over $13,000 from more than 500 donors, with the goal of getting the office back up and running. That is the spirit of community and camaraderie that makes America great.

“As a member of the Main Street Alliance Executive Committee, I can tell you that members are deeply disturbed by the rising tide of hateful rhetoric and violence aimed at members of our community, at refugees fleeing violence, at immigrants and people of color,” said David Borris, Owner of Hel's Kitchen Catering, Illinois. “We want to make it very clear that we do not share in this hateful rhetoric, and our businesses thrive from diverse populations."

Minneapolis Members Speak Out Against MN Chamber Lawsuit Challenging Earned Sick and Safe Time

Main Street business owners Support Earned Sick and Safe Time, call Chamber-led lawsuit frivolous

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce filed a lawsuit today taking on the recently approved ordinance to provide paid sick leave to employees of all businesses operating in the city. When presented with a diverse set of opinions from the business community, the council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance, slated to go into effect in July of 2017.

Despite hearing the will of the small business community and witnessing the unanimous support of the Council, the Minnesota Chamber has elected to take legal action in a move that further delays implementation of an ordinance critical to the success of our small and mid-sized businesses, our employees, and our city.

“The ordinance that was passed represents a compromise that was negotiated and supported by a vast majority of our community, including small businesses like us,” said Andy Pappacosta, Events Coordinator at Gandhi Mahal and Main Street Alliance of Minnesota member. “This lawsuit is being led by a select number of businesses, and does not represent many small business owners who have deep roots in our community.”

“It is no surprise that the Chamber is throwing in a last-minute legal challenge,” said Danny Schwartzman, the owner of Common Roots Cafe and Catering and Main Street Alliance of Minnesota member. “Since the beginning, they and their allies including the Downtown Council, have tried to do all they can to stop paid sick time from moving forward.  They have even been hesitant to acknowledge the reality of the problem that all too many residents in Minneapolis face -- with no access to even a very basic level of paid sick time. This a public health issue, an equity issue, and an economic justice issue and is a pressing one for our community. The Chamber presents no solution beyond the idea that businesses could voluntarily provide sick pay benefits, which is suggesting exactly the system we have now that fails so many low-wage workers and is bad for our community.”

“It’s unfortunate that the City will now have to fight a frivolous lawsuit to stop implementation of earned sick and safe time, rather than investing the necessary funding for outreach and communication, and technical support for businesses, which we need” said Jason Rathe, the owner of Field Outdoor Spaces and co-chair of the Main Street Alliance of Minnesota.

“Cities across the country have passed similar sick time legislation, and we were glad to be a part of that movement,” said Kagalee “KB” Brown, the owner of Wolfpack Promotionals and co-chair of the Main Street Alliance of Minnesota. “It is unfortunate the Chamber sees this as ‘unworkable and unlawful.' It’s clearly very workable, legal, and has been created to be flexible, not ‘one size fits all’.”


Main Street Alliance Applauds Treasury Department for Strong Rule to Curb Multinational Tax Avoidance

After shocking Wall Street in April with proposed rules that ultimately halted the Pfizer-Allergan inversion, the U.S. Treasury released its final rule.

The U.S. Department of Treasury on Thursday finalized a rule aimed at curbing earning stripping, an abusive practice that multinational companies use to avoid taxes. The Main Street Alliance applauds the Treasury Department for taking this critical step.

The rule aims to discourage inversions by making it more difficult for multinational companies to engage in earnings stripping--when companies load their U.S. subsidiaries with foreign debt,  and impose artificially high fees and interest on the debt, to reduce their US tax burden. The Treasury’s final rule is expected to raise an additional $7.4 billion in revenue over ten years.

The US Chamber of Commerce and other large business associations strongly opposed this common-sense rule and filed a lawsuit to halt it in August. Meanwhile, the real small business owners on Main Street overwhelmingly support laws that aim to close loopholes taken advantage of by large multinationals. Main Street Alliance submitted comments in support of the rule in June.

“For too long, large corporations have exploited tax gimmicks to dodge their financial responsibility while small businesses are left to pay the tab,” said Michelle Sternthal, Deputy Director of Policy and Federal Affairs for Main Street Alliance.  “This behavior, which costs an estimated $134 billion a year, not only erodes the U.S. tax base but undermines businesses who pay their fair share of taxes. Nevertheless, there is a limit to what the Executive branch can accomplish."

To truly address corporate tax loopholes, Congress must act. Main Street Alliance calls on Members of Congress to close these and other tax loopholes that enable companies to shift their profits overseas as a means of corporate tax avoidance.

Donald Trump's Revised Tax Plan Won't Work for Main Street

CBPP Finds Trump Tax Plan Heavily Tilts Towards the Wealthy–Away from Small Business Owners and their Customer Base

The latest version of Donald Trump’s ever-changing tax plan is facing scrutiny from the Center on Budget and Public Policy and Main Street Alliance leaders. The plan, one that features across the board tax cuts, disproportionately benefits the highest-income earners, those grossing more than $1 million annually.

The self-proclaimed business genius and master of the tax code has failed to produce a tax plan that would not prompt a chain reaction of budget and service cuts, and he has ignored the most significant key to a small business owners successcustomers with money to spend.

A 2015 report released by the Main Street Alliance, “Voices of Main Street,” surveyed over 1000 small business owners and found that 52% of respondents cited “more customers” as the most important key to increasing small business success. Doubling the number of respondents that said “lower taxes” and more than quadrupling the number that responded “fewer regulations.”

Tax cuts skewed towards the wealthy elite starve our communities of much-needed resources while further tilting the scales towards large corporations and the rich. What Hillary Clinton coined “Trumped up trickle-down economics” is at play in the Trump proposal, one that ignores history in favor of policy that aims to put his family and families like his in the driver seat of our economy.

Small business owners and our customers are the real economic drivers and to succeed we need a fiscally solvent tax plan that maintains essential services while proportionally distributing tax cuts across the bottom and middle tax brackets.

“To level the playing field for Main Street businesses our tax code must no longer skew in favor of large corporations and their shareholders,” said Deborah Field, the owner of Paperjam Press in Portland, Oregon, and a former corporate tax accountant. “Without holding multinational corporations accountable to pay what they owe and first providing relief to low and middle-income earners we shouldn’t begin to consider tax cuts for the rich.”

"Mr. Trump's tax breaks would deprive the government of badly needed funds for investments in infrastructure, transportation, education, and social services. The resulting budget cuts hinder the types of investments that drive local economies and put small businesses in a better position to succeed,” said Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of the Main Street Alliance. “A tax policy that works for the shops and restaurants on Main Street is one that supports our customer base and our communities. In that regard, Trump's plan falls flat."

 “The vast majority of small business owners don’t support a tax system that augments their piece of the pie by cheating their fellow citizens out of theirs. When we contribute our fair share of taxes, those dollars get reinvested in our local communities,” said David Borris, the owner of Hel’s Kitchen Catering in Chicago and Main Street Alliance Executive Committee member. “Local communities that support tens of millions of small businesses nationally.” 

Casey Thomas Joins Main Street Alliance as National Development Associate

Join us in welcoming the newest Main Street Alliance staff member, Casey Thomas. Casey will serve as the National Development Associate. 

This week, Casey Thomas took on her new role with Main Street Alliance as the Development Associate. Born in New York, Casey grew up in Zimbabwe, India, Bangladesh and Northern Virginia. Her family is from South Carolina and Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands. She is an avid fan of the New York Mets.


Currently residing in Greensboro, North Carolina, Casey serves on the board of the Renaissance Community Cooperative, a community-owned grocery store that will open this month in a neighborhood that has been without a grocery store for 18 years.

Casey recently finished a Master's in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and completed her undergraduate study at Guilford College. For the past five years, she has worked in administrative positions in higher education.

Working closely with the MSA National Director and national and state-level teams, Casey will focus on program planning, organizational development, campaign strategy, and coordinating and aligning fundraising plans. She will be responsible for reporting the work and advocacy of our leaders and members to our funders and allies.

Main Street Alliance staff and leadership are excited to welcome Casey Thomas to our team and look forward to the great work we will do together. 



Main Street Businesses Reject Trump's Plan to Remove 70% of Regulations

Addressing a crowd in New Hampshire, Mr. Trump claimed he could eliminate 70 percent of regulations, many of which small business owners on Main Street view as necessary protections for employers and consumers. 

Just hours after a Trump campaign advisor told members of the media that his candidate could quickly remove 10 percent of regulations on businesses, Donald Trump took the stage in New Hampshire and amplified the claim stating he could remove as much as 70 percent of regulations. The rules that keep big businesses in check, ensure product safety and protect our environment could be lifted under the Trump administration in favor of a free for all for large corporations and the wealthy elite. 

Among the regulations Mr. Trump promised to target is the Department of Labor's new Fiduciary Rule that demands that wealth managers and financial advisors act in the best interest of their clients. The regulation was deemed necessary by the DOL earlier this year and would prevent advisors from taking advantage of small business owners and our customers with high-fee investment plans and advice motivated by bonuses and incentives. 

“When small business owners make investments they need to be confident that the advice given by professionals is in their best interest. Advisors chasing bonuses and incentives lead investors down the path that is most profitable to them, putting their profits ahead of their clients’ interests. It is this type of chicanery that led us to the market collapse in 2007 that devastated small businesses and communities, and the Fiduciary Standard shakes up business as usual on Wall Street and promotes a fairer and more equitable investment process,” said Amanda Ballantyne, National Director of the Main Street Alliance. 

The GOP candidate took aim at the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act claiming it stifled the growth of American businesses. The act is designed to rein in the Wall Street abuses and deception that led to the mortgage and financial crisis, which seriously impeded growth. The very financial crisis Mr. Trump boasts about profiting from when making a case for his business genius. Meanwhile, small business owners on Main Street know that real genius lies in the ability to turn a profit while protecting homeowners and creditors and refusing to repeat the same mistakes of decades prior. 

“Formed as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) acts as the first and last line of defense for consumers and borrowers,” said David Borris, the owner of Hel's Kitchen Catering in Chicago and a member of the Main Street Alliance National Executive Committee. “That is why financial regulations are so important in their potential to stem the tide of financial ruin for millions of local consumers throughout the country.”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an agency Mr. Trump's promised to abolish, a promise he has since reframed, protects the solvency of our businesses and reduces the significant impact large companies have on our environment. We have seen countless instances of lax regulations and in cases when disaster results, small businesses often suffer. Take, for example, the restaurants and cafés in Charleston, West Virginia that had to close their doors for weeks following the 2014 spill that released MCHM into the Elk River, or the hotels, charter fishers and gift shops devastated by the ongoing fallout from the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.

Mr. Trump's proposals are the latest in a series of indications that his policies fall in line with his personal interests. They are policies designed for large businesses and real estate moguls like him that fail to consider the needs of small business owners and their employees. To ensure that our financial interests are put before our advisor's profits, to protect our businesses and our customers from a repeat of the financial meltdown, and to reduce our impact on climate change and risk for eco-disaster, we must reject the notion that regulations are bad for business. Instead, we should embrace the regulations that keep companies in check and look for new rules that provide a safer and more consistent climate to conduct business. 

"We want a regulatory system that works for all of us and does not give the advantage to the largest corporations and trade groups that employee huge lobbying staffs for the purpose of rigging the system to their benefit–at the expense of the rest of us. Most of all, Donald Trump must stop using small businesses good name to justify his self-serving attacks on the regulatory safeguards that keep his company in check and ensure the safety and well-being of our employees and customers," said Kagalee "KB" Brown, the owner of Wolfpack Promotionals in Minneapolis and a member of the Main Street Alliance of Minnesota. 

Alternative D.C. Paid Family and Medical Leave Bill Hurts Small Businesses

A coalition of business organizations and associations is backing a weakened alternative to the D.C. Council’s paid family and medical leave bill that cuts out small businesses.

Today, a consortium of business organizations and universities presented an alternative to the D.C. Council’s proposed paid family and medical leave policy in a letter to Mayor Bowser. This weakened bill fails to meet the needs of small businesses, and, if passed, would fail to help Main Street businesses match the offerings of their larger competitors and ensure coverage for their staff members.

The D.C. Council’s initial bill proposed a paid family and medical leave policy that was accessible to all employers--large and small-- in the District. This bill relied on a citywide insurance pool as its funding mechanism, requiring employers to contribute 1 percent of their payroll costs to the pooled fund. Using this funding mechanism allows small businesses to provide their employees with a paid family and medical leave policy that was previously out of reach. The alternative plan, in contrast, shifts the funding source to an employer mandate model. Under this model, each employer is responsible for absorbing the cost of their employees’ paid leave, rather than utilizing the insurance pool.

While some large businesses may prefer this model, an employer mandate is simply unaffordable for the small businesses that sit at the heart of our communities. D.C. small businesses want to offer their employees paid leave, but they cannot afford to. An employer mandate does nothing to change that reality. If enacted, large employers would retain a competitive edge, while the employees of small businesses would remain without coverage.

Touting their plan as one that takes D.C. government out of the picture and preserves the sanctity of the employer-employee relationship, the business coalition insists their proposal is better for both employee and employer. But, for the thousands of in-district businesses with fewer than 50 employees, the plan falls flat. No large businesses embrace the employee-employer relationship more than a small business, and few are as closely tied to the wellbeing of their communities and their customer base.

To level the playing field for all businesses, and to equip small companies to match the offerings of their competitors and to ensure all employees in the District have access to paid family and medical leave the D.C. Council’s plan must move forward without an overhaul.

“With a paid family and medical leave policy on the books, one funded by employer contributions of just 1 percent of payroll, we will all have the opportunity to provide a benefit that helps our employees, our businesses, and our community,” said Doron Petersan, the owner of Sticky Fingers Sweets and Eats in Columbia Heights and a member of the DMV Small Business Alliance, a project of Main Street Alliance.  “Policy that is socially conscious, accessible and cost effective is a no-brainer for small business owners in the District.”

“The business lobby’s proposal for employers to pay directly for their employees’ leave may sound nice, but it’s motivated by a desire to save money for the city’s largest employers and corporations, hanging small and medium size business owners like me out to dry,” said Fatima Nayir, the owner of Mama’s Pizza in Anacostia and a member of the DMV Small Business Alliance, a project of Main Street Alliance.


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