Washington Doesn’t Get It: Why We Need Business Experience in Congress
I recently met a painter named Jeff, and as he leaned against his paint-splattered pickup truck, he told me about his struggles as a small business owner. Jeff started painting houses after high school and grew his small business over the last 20 years. Recently, he was offered a large commercial contract, but had to turn it down because he didn’t have enough employees to complete the job.
Why didn’t Jeff have enough employees? His business is certainly successful enough to hire additional help, but he won’t. Jeff is wary of expanding his staff due to the uncertainty created by recent federal regulations.
Jeff tries to do the right thing by offering his employees full benefits, but those costs are rising dramatically. Since his competitors only hire temporary contractors or pay them under the table, Jeff is already at a disadvantage. Unfortunately, too many employers like Jeff face these choices—play by the rules and postpone hiring in order to avoid regulatory uncertainty, or skirt the rules to remain profitable.
The problem is that too many people in Congress just don’t get it. Politicians who haven’t had to think about business incentives or manage employees seem unable to grasp that businesses must respond to change. Recently passed regulations are creating uncertainty. The business response to that uncertainty is to simply not invest or create additional jobs. In fact, some have estimated that 2.5 million jobs have not been created in the past four years due to regulatory uncertainty.
One of the largest sources of uncertainty is the influence of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. A recent survey showed that two-thirds of small business owners simply don’t know how the ACA will affect them. The extensive number of tax increases, as well as the unclear timing of the implementation of new requirements, has created even more doubt about America’s economic future.
Additional factors contributing to this uncertainty are the tax increases that may go into effect at the beginning of 2012. These tax hikes include a capital gains tax increase, taxes imposed to cover the costs of Obamacare, such as a 3.8% Medicare tax on wages, the expiration of Bush tax cuts, and no slowdown of expansion of the alternative minimum tax (AMT).
We are experiencing the slowest economy recovery since the Great Depression. This is not the time to take large amounts of money out of economy through tax increases. In fact, tax cuts are more efficient way to stimulate the economy than government spending.
America wasn’t built on a foundation of extensive government intrusion into the economy. Too many politicians don’t know what it’s like to be the owner of a small business. They think that they can solve any problem if they only create enough laws and regulations. What they don’t see is that all of these changes create uncertainty and make it harder for businesses to succeed.
Unlike most members of Congress, I’ve spent the majority of my professional career in the private sector. I’m a former management consultant, a previous manager of a $100 million product line at iRobot Corporation, the current CEO of an online startup, and I hold an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.
I’ve spent my working hours thinking about growth and profitability, and pulling the levers that create jobs. This experience provided real world evidence that the government cannot create jobs; only businesses can create jobs. To enable growth, government’s economic role should be as minimal as possible. This is not to say that government intervention is never required, but it should be as limited and predictable as possible.
We need more people in Washington with business experience to create the right economic policies, rather than more people who desire to become career politicians. As an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, I know that times of crisis are the times that most demand leadership, but our leaders in Washington have failed us.
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Why should we send more of the same types of people to Congress to pass the same kind of laws that got us into this economic mess?
It’s time for new leadership. It’s time for change. I ask for your vote in the Republican primary this Thursday. Help ensure that we elect a candidate who “gets it” and who can win in November. We must change Washington to change the direction of this country.
Paid for by Bielat for Congress 2012