PORTLAND, Ore. – Linda McMahon, the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, visited Portland on Tuesday as part of a nationwide tour talking to small business owners.
McMahon visited several small and medium-sized businesses, including Bob’s Red Mill and Breakside Brewery in Milwaukie, as well as Coava Coffee Roasters in Portland.
Before her tour, McMahon sat down on Tuesday morning with KGW’s Ashley Korslien for an interview that will air in full this Sunday on Straight Talk.
“SBA is one of the best kept secrets in the country because you hear SBA, you think loans for small businesses. But it’s so much more than that,” McMahon said.
She said the SBA offers mentoring for small business owners, business plan guidance, mentoring services and more.
McMahon also reacted to news that Senate Republicans don’t have the votes to move forward on a plan to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act.
She said she hears complaints from small businesses owners about the cost of insurance premiums going up.
“They want to provide health care for their employees and many of them now can’t do it,” McMahon said.
She cautiously endorsed a plan to simply repeal the ACA without offering a replacement.
“I certainly don’t feel the repeal portion will be ‘ok, today it stops.’ There will have to be some wind-down period and I think common sense will prevail on how to do that,” McMahon said.
“The President clearly ran on repeal and replace Obamacare. And I think it’s clear Obamacare is imploding on its own,” she added.
McMahon said she and her husband Vince have known Donald Trump for more than two decades. Trump famously appeared in wrestling segments with Vince McMahon.
Linda McMahon also donated millions of dollars towards the effort to elect Trump.
“I have found him to be an incredibly loyal friend,” McMahon said. “He does what he says he’s going to do.”
Despite low approval ratings for Trump, McMahon insisted she doesn’t hear concerns about the president’s performance when meeting with business owners.
“I’ve heard concerns about policy, I’ve heard concerns about health insurance, I’ve heard concerns about the regulatory environment and the tax environment,” she said. “What small businesses are telling me is ‘boy, we’d love to see tax cuts.’”
McMahon also said persistent questions about Russian interference in the 2016 election do not hamper her job at the Small Businesses Administration. She said a small businesses owner has never brought up concerns about Russia during her meetings.
Trump pulled the United States out of a negotiated trade deal with a dozen Pacific Rim countries as one of his first acts in office.
Many Oregon businesses had supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership because it would have removed barriers that make it difficult to export to Japan and other Asian countries.
“I think the president really has good people in place to evaluate trade agreements and see what is really best of the United States as a whole,” McMahon said.
“We want to find out what will make the best trade agreements for the United States,” she added. “That’s what we want. We want trade, we need markets to export to.”
McMahon said she’s interested in hearing from business owners in Oregon and Washington about the impact of minimum wage increases in both states, as well as new paid family leave requirements in Washington.
“States are in a better position to control the minimum wage laws because a really rapid increase in minimum wage can really affect small businesses,” McMahon said.
KGW’s full interview with Linda McMahon will air on Straight Talk this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. It can be seen on KGW Channel 8 in Portland or online or on the KGW News App.