Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but I often am asked what I want to see come out of Washington, D.C. I have a simple answer to that question: Please do not make life any harder for me and my company. This is not whining. This is not a tone-deaf CEO asking for his life back.
I love my job and my company and gladly put in every hour I work. However, whether well meaning or not, Washington impacts our lives and my company daily. This impact can be neutral, or it can make it harder or easier to operate a business. I have four simple requests of my government.
First, please don’t compete with me.
I fully accept and appreciate that there is an appropriate oversight role for governmental employees on public-works projects. After all, they are the project owners. However, study after study shows that the private sector is more efficient when it comes to developing and designing these same projects.
Contracting these services to the private sector has proved to be an efficient and effective way to deliver projects for the benefit of all taxpayers.
Unfortunately, there is a constant push by some forces within the government and their public sector employees to take back this work and provide it in-house. Some agencies have gone further and pursued work from other governmental agencies, in effect becoming a competitor with the private sector. This is a bad idea.
Please, let’s keep an appropriate and necessary oversight role for the federal government, but let the private sector do what it does best.
Second, follow a realistic tax policy. It is well known the U.S. corporate tax rate is the second highest in the world. Why?
Other countries have figured out that business creates jobs, and everything we pay in taxes deducts from what we can use to grow the company. Margins in our industry are generally not high, and after a hard year of work, we have to send a big chunk of our profits to the government. This outlay doesn’t even count the daily taxes levied on us by every city, county, state and federal agency under whose jurisdiction we operate.
A reasonable tax policy—and preferably a cut in the corporate tax rate—would allow me to use my firm’s profits to grow the business through investments in people and equipment. At a minimum, I could return more profits to the shareholders of our employee-owned company so they could benefit from their hard work and put their money to work in the economy. Cutting the corporate tax rate is not a giveaway to the rich, but a way to return growth and dynamism to the economy.
Third, deal with the issues at hand. America’s infrastructure is aging, yet we can’t get any coherent policy or direction from Washington. Take a look at the mess with the gas tax and federal highway funding. We continue to get short-term and even month-to-month extensions rather than a comprehensive plan to maintain this critical piece of our infrastructure. Without a plan and some certainty of funding, even state and local transportation spending comes to a grinding halt. And it is not limited to highways.For example, we can’t get a plan to deal with nuclear waste, which limits our nuclear industry and the drive for some sort of energy independence.
I know there are a lot of different pressures on our representatives in Washington, but I think I speak for many Americans who are tired of our inability to tackle the issues at hand.
I like to tell people that in America we have a looming choice: spend more on infrastructure or get ready to accept a lower quality of life. I like to think we will wake up and do the right thing.
Fourth, business needs some certainty. Many well-respected national publications have suggested that businesses are sitting on cash and holding back on hiring and spending because of the uncertainty in the economy and the political climate. I think this is exactly what is going on.
Specifically, with looming tax increases becoming effective on January 1, anti-business rhetoric coming out of the administration and economic signals suggesting that any “recovery” we have had will be short-lived, I would be crazy to go on a hiring spree. I don’t think we will see a meaningful economic recovery until we see some certainty and businesses feel confident in investing.