What is the U.S. legislature doing to help business owners? A spirited debate among political strategists sought to flush out answers to this question and more during a panel discussion on the state of the economy at the 2017 ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America Trade Show and Convention in Las Vegas, NV.
Political commentator Frank Luntz moderated the discussion, leading off the debate by polling audience members about their greatest hopes and fears. Answers from the audience varied, touching on fears of conflict with North Korea and the Middle East and hopes for an improved universal health care program and continued financial recovery. But one recurring concern among both the panelists and the audience was apparent: that Democrats and Republicans would continue their legislative stalemate at the expense of the American workforce and business owners.
Republican political strategist Brian Beaulieu believes the stalemate in Congress has led businesses to become self-reliant. “Nothing is going on in Washington. Businesses are running things,” he said. “It’s a fantastic time to be in business, as long as we can get the labor.”
Karl Rove, republican political strategist, remarked that it’s not the first time in U.S. history political parties have refused to cooperate. “We’ve done this before; we’ll come out of this,” he said.
Democratic strategist Jim Messina was not as optimistic. He believes the death of moderate politics has been a problem for the last 20 years. “Politicians worry about two things: raising money and pleasing their base,” he said. “They care more about their base than working with the moderates to get things done, and it’s only going to get worse.”
However, amidst the criticism, panelists also shared their visions of how Congress could help businesses. Both Beaulieu and Rove spoke in favor of a lower corporate tax rate. “Think about all the companies that would locate here and provide great-paying jobs if we eliminated corporate taxes,” Beaulieu quipped.
Messina admitted the current tax system is very complex and needs to be rewritten. “I am optimistic we will have some form of tax reform this year,” he said. However, he cautioned against the cost of lowering the corporate tax code. “This would need to be paid for and it would blow the budget,” he warned. “People want Washington to balance the budget.”
Luntz asked the panel what business owners in the room could do to influence congress to pass business-friendly policies. The consensus: taking action and becoming politically involved.
Panelists urged business owners to do this by building relationships with their local politicians. Even if your legislators don’t represent your preferential party, it’s best to bring serious issues to the forefront now—such as health care and social security—instead of leaving them to be solved by the next generation of business owners. “You have more power than you think you do,” Messina said.