February 14 2017
Patrice L. Onwuka
Wrestling’s first lady Linda McMahon was just confirmed by the Senate to lead the Small Business Administration (SBA).
In a majority vote of 81-19, McMahon becomes another major Trump appointee to be confirmed this week. Women and the business community have reasons to cheer.
McMahon said of the role for the SBA:
“Even entrepreneurs with the best ideas sometimes need a little wind beneath their wings.”
McMahon has business credibility. She was the co-founder and former CEO of the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., (WWE) before running two unsuccessful Senate bids in Connecticut. She helped grow the WWE from a dozen employees to an empire employing more than 800 people. Her comments demonstrate an intimate understanding of small businesses and the day-to-day decisions they make:
McMahon said she and her husband started out sharing a desk. She recalled questioning whether she had enough money to continue leasing a typewriter or whether they could purchase it.
"Like all small-business owners, I know what it's like to take a risk on an idea, manage cash flow, navigate regulations and tax laws, and create jobs," she said.
McMahon’s nomination has flown under the radar compared to other nominees. Senators on both sides of the aisle expressed support for her ability to give small businesses a boost. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., for example, supported McMahon because she understands the agency’s role in the economy through loans, disaster assistance and educational services.
Not everyone was so easy on McMahon. A sports reporter at the Huffington Post took issue with the easy pass that senators gave McMahon during her hearing. He said they didn’t probe past issues at the WWE, including potential steroid abuse, wrestler deaths, and the “near monopolistic control” of the WWE over professional wrestling.
However, she was qualified enough to sail through the bitter partisan battles over President Trump’s cabinet nominees to-date.
McMahon listed two top priorities during her hearing before the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee: strengthening disaster relief programs for small businesses and advancing women-owned companies. She’ll have her hands full with the first goal just given the current flooding in California. However, the second goal may take time and intentionality. Women-owned businesses make up 38 percent of U.S. businesses, but generate only 4 percent of revenue and 8 percent of employment. They also received 14 percent of the SBA’s largest loan program, which was valued at $24 billion in 2015.
Small businesses owned by women and men have been under tremendous pressure thanks to an onslaught of regulations from the Obama Administration and Washington. From ObamaCare to overtime regulations, the amount of red tape and cost burdens hoisted onto the shoulders of small businesses has not be negligent. McMahon has an opportunity to work with the rest of the Trump Administration and a unified Congress to turn the tide for the sake of the backbone of our economy – small businesses.