STRATEGISTS at the Clinton-Gore campaign headquarters are very
proud to call Bill Clinton a pro-business Democrat, a label that
has long been a contradiction in terms for presidential politics.
Gene Sperling, the campaign's economic policy director, runs
down a list of new endorsements from Fortune 500 leaders and from
high-tech business leaders who support the Clinton-Gore economic
But Governor Clinton has yet to win over smaller United States
firms, which account for well over half of US employment and
output. Moreover, these small companies have been responsible for
the lion's share of job creation over the last decade. Wary of
being targeted by more taxes and regulations, these businesses are
uneasy about what a Democratic administration would bring.
William Dunkelberg, chief economist of the National Federation
of Independent Business (NFIB), has no doubt that, under a Clinton
administration, businesses will be hit with a host of new
government-mandated costs that eat into their bottom lines. Eighty
percent of NFIB's 600,000 members have less than 40 employees.
"Absolutely, there will be more regulations if Clinton wins," says
Mr. Dunkelberg, who is also dean of Temple University Business
If Clinton occupies the White House, "Congress will be heaping
on the mandates - from health care to day care, to elderly care, to
care for the environment," he asserts.
The critical difference between Clinton and President Bush,
Dunkelberg says, is that "Bush has used the veto 30-odd times, and
All the costs that businesses incur from government regulations
will more than offset Clinton's proposed business tax breaks that
are designed to create jobs, he adds.
"I call it `sneak a tax on business,"' says conservative John
Cregan, president of the US Business and Industrial Council.
"Because government can't afford to pay for social costs, due to
its $400 billion deficit, it tries to make business foot the bill."
Mr. Cregan says his members are unhappy with both candidates.
"They feel burned by Bush," who signaled both the Environmental
Protection Agency and Congress that his administration "was a
kinder and gentler time for regulations," says Cregan. He applauds
Clinton's "very hands-on approach" in promoting US competitiveness.
And while he differs with much of it, Cregan is also impressed
with the amount of work Clinton has put into "his detailed economic
By contrast, he says, Bush is "so disengaged, he obviously
doesn't care about domestic policy. …