The central question for the upcoming election is: “How would the candidate, as President, bring our country together around a common vision for where we need to go as a nation and how we can get there?” (“Stop Fighting, Start Fixing,” by Jon Huntsman Jr. and Joe Lieberman, Fortune, May 2016, pgs. 63-64). As authors Jon Huntsman Jr., former governor of Utah, and Joe Lieberman, former US senator from Connecticut, admit, healing the rift in Congress will take more than a wish list or a set of promises.
Economically, the country is on the mend. After the 2008 debacle, safeguards have been put in place, intended to prevent a similar crash from occurring. What’s more, we’ve weathered the aftermath of the financial global storm that continues to affect other nations. Jobs are coming back, employment statistics continue to climb as does housing and the stock market. Still, Americans are suffering an angst about the future, one the country hasn’t faced since the Depression. Our anxiety is reflected in a Congress afraid to make decisions, preferring to churn out regulations that strangle the innovation we rely upon to get us out of our morass. As a result, more start ups are dying than being born, “a first for the nation in modern history.” (Ibid, pg. 64.) Daunted by the new regulations, banks have become afraid to make loans. That’s bad news for entrepreneurs, particularly minorities. (Ibid pg. 64) Worse, the cost of grinding out the paperwork to satisfy the government requires an additional $10,000 per employee per year. (Ibid 06 64). No wonder businesses are eager to automate.
Huntsman and Lieberman have a few ideas that could bring the nation together. They begin by suggesting Congress review regulations older than 15 years on a regular basis and sunset those that no longer make sense. In addition, they propose the following: a) to simplify the tax codes for corporations and individuals; b) to turn the country’s attention to repairing the infrastructure and c) to create an agency dedicated to working with those whose jobs are about to become obsolete. By way of example, Hillary Clinton proposed retraining coal miners in West Virginia where the industry is fading. She got shot as the messenger though she should have been credited for thinking ahead.
Huntsman and Lieberman’s proposals are so rational, one wonders why they haven’t been implemented. But there’s still time. In this upcoming election we need to let the candidates hear from us about these modest proposals.