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Renegades-in-waiting: Why big business is wary of Trump’s potential 2020 rivals

November 18, 2019, 9:30 AM UTC

As much as Trump’s on-the-fly policymaking scares business leaders, many are more frightened by some of his Democratic rivals’ stated positions. Indeed, the four highest-polling Democratic candidates have laid out policies that would profoundly affect business. A big unknown: Michael Bloomberg. If the billionaire entrepreneur and former New York City mayor enters the race, big business might switch sides.

Joe Biden

Would strengthen labor unions in multiple ways—denying federal contracts to union-unfriendly companies, holding executives personally responsible for labor law violations, giving the National Labor Relations Board new powers, making union organizing easier, allowing independent contractors to organize and bargain collectively, and much else. Would rescind the corporate tax cut in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Favors a $15 federal minimum wage and would eliminate noncompete clauses.

Energy and climate

Would mandate net-zero emissions for the nation by 2050.

Health care

Would keep the Affordable Care Act and would give everyone the option of choosing government-provided health care “like Medicare.”

Trade

Would write “rules that protect our workers, safeguard the environment, uphold labor standards and middle-class wages, foster innovation, and take on big global challenges like corporate concentration, corruption, and climate change.”

Pete Buttigieg

Would restore the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement authority. Would further regulate “predatory lenders,” strengthen antitrust standards, and give consumers rights to their own data. Would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 “and beyond.” Would mandate paid family and medical leave and would expand laws regulating pay and benefits to workers not currently covered. 

Energy and climate

Would reach “100% clean” electricity by 2035; deploy one gigaton of CO2 removal capacity by 2040; reenter the Paris Climate Agreement.

Health care

“Medicare for all who want it”—would be sold on the exchanges along with commercial insurance.

Trade

No specific policies proposed.

Bernie Sanders

Would enact a federal jobs guarantee for everyone. Would require that all companies with at least $100 million in annual revenue give at least 2% of their stock to workers annually until the company is at least 20% employee-owned; employee-owned shares would be controlled by an employee-elected board of trustees and could be voted like other shares. Employees would elect 45% of the corporate board of directors. These companies would be required to get a newly instituted federal charter requiring boards to consider the interests of all stakeholders. Would ban stock buybacks. Would give the Federal Trade Commission the power to halt mergers without challenging them in federal court. Would rescind the corporate tax cut in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

Energy and climate

Supports the Green New Deal.

Health care

Medicare for All.

Trade

No tax deduction for expenses of moving production outside the U.S. All trade agreements must include “strong and binding labor, environmental, and human rights standards.”

Elizabeth Warren

Would require all U.S. corporations with annual revenue over $1 billion to obtain a newly instituted federal charter “which obligates company directors to consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders, not just shareholders.” Workers would elect at least 40% of corporate board members. Corporate political spending would require approval of 75% of shareholders and 75% of directors. Would rescind the corporate tax cut in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Would break up big technology companies and big agribusiness companies. Would tax corporations on profits reported to shareholders under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles rather than on profits as calculated under current IRS rules. Would regulate the pay of corporate executives. 

Energy and climate

Supports the Green New Deal.

Health care

Medicare for All.

Trade

Would negotiate trade deals only with countries that meet specified standards on labor rights, human rights, environmental regulations, and other criteria.

A version of this article appears in the December 2019 issue of Fortune as part of the cover story, “Why Trump Is Bad for Business.”

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