My informal and definitely unscientific poll of US moldmakers indicates that Obama was not the first choice of the moldmaking industry. But the American voters, in their infinite wisdom, decided to stick with four more years of the status quo. They also decided to send a divided Congress back to Washington. So after two years of campaigning, and over $1 billion worth of negative ads, all we got was more of the same. But enough of the whining.
Despite all of the campaign promises to the contrary, I am convinced that there is very little that the politicians in Washington can do to stimulate the American economy. But it is well within their power to wreck the economy if they make the wrong choices. The good news is that if the policymakers perform their jobs in a competent manner, then economic growth will take care of itself. The bad news is that they have behaved most incompetently more often than not in recent years.
As small business owners and citizens we must demand competence. But what does that mean? What exactly is it that we want them to do? I have come up with a short list of immediate actions they should take that will restore the confidence of the American public and allow those of us that matter to get on with the business of building the economy.
The first thing the President and Congress should do upon returning to Washington this month is make sure we do not go over the "fiscal cliff." Every business leader in America currently has a contingency plan that they will use if Congress fails to act. This plan includes laying off workers and cutting back on capital expenditures. Another recession would be the obvious result of this course of events. This is obviously unacceptable. So that is the top priority.
But their work does not end there. The next priority must be tax reform. This will include lowering the corporate tax rate and simplifying the federal tax code by eliminating many loopholes and deductions. They must also harmonize taxation of foreign income. All of this will take hard work, and it is not the kind of legislation that will instantly generate a lot of new jobs. But it will make the United States a much better place in which to do business, and this will have a stimulative effect over the long haul. Tax reform has strong bipartisan support, and if it is successfully enacted it will do much to raise the confidence of consumers and business owners alike.
Once the confidence of the electorate is restored, then the President and Congress should enact legislation to invest and rebuild the country’s infrastructure. This will cost money, but it is the kind of government spending that will generate a huge payback in the future. It is a necessary and highly beneficial investment in our nation's long-term productivity. And it has the added benefit of stimulating the economy in the short term by creating a lot of jobs.
I did not vote for Obama, and I strongly believe that the economy would benefit from a much smaller federal government. That does not mean that there are not things the government can do to help the economy. And I do not like the strategy of obstructionism for the sake of trying to get somebody else elected sometime in the future. The campaign is over. The election is over. It is time for the rest of us to get back to work building a better future.