Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a small businessman who opened brewpubs in Denver and across the Midwest, is unveiling his plan to boost the U.S. economy by embracing what he sees as the power of private industry.
“We can make the private sector into a stronger engine of opportunity and innovation, rather than having it continue as America’s favorite political piñata,” he will say Friday in a speech in New Hampshire.
How would it work?
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Hickenlooper proposes raising the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour. He also wants to tackle college affordability by cutting the federal interest rate on all student loans to 2.5 percent. Additionally, he pledges to make community college free and “launch the biggest expansion of apprenticeships and training in American history.”
His proposal calls for creation of an “entrepreneurship tax credit” for small businesses and a “micro-enterprise tax credit” for businesses with five employees or fewer and up to $10 million in revenue. He also calls for creating incentives for startups “in rural and distressed areas,” doubling the federal earned income tax credit, taxing capital gains at the same rate as ordinary income and ending tax loopholes for “very wealthy” Americans who pass portfolios to their children.
He wants to pursue a trillion-dollar federal investment in infrastructure with an emphasis on clean energy and rural broadband service. He would pay for it in part by a partial repeal of the tax cuts that Trump signed into law in 2017.
Hickenlooper pushes for “an expansion of open and fair trade” and stronger anti-trust enforcement.
The plan includes “universal” health care while maintaining private insurance for those satisfied with employer-provided coverage.
What have other Democrats proposed?
Elements of Hickenlooper’s plan overlap with other candidates’ proposals. Several others, for example, have endorsed the idea of a $15 minimum wage.
But Hickenlooper, a centrist, stands in stark contrast to candidates such as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who are offering more dramatic proposals to achieve economic equality. Sanders, for example, has proposed a federal job guarantee.
Hickenlooper makes clear he opposes ideas like the job guarantee and a government takeover of health insurance, which Sanders and other supporters of Medicare for All have backed.
“These are certainly big ideas; they are also not good ideas,” Hickenlooper says. “They would bloat the federal government. They would massively raise taxes. They would depress economic growth. And let me assure you, in the end, they would hurt working people.”