Two years ago, Republicans were licking their wounds after getting romped at the voting booth. On Tuesday, it was the Democrats’ turn.
Conventional wisdom says Republicans will bring a more business-friendly atmosphere to Washington.
Almost every business owner I’ve talked to in the past two years has felt like he or she has been on the outside looking in as “job-killing” legislation – their words – promoted by the Democratic-controlled Congress and White House.
At the top of the list was health care reform, signed into law as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The White House and Congressional Democrats promised an open and transparent process. But they chose to ram the legislation through, never mind that few people read the bill.
Small businesses – the backbone of the economy and providers of most jobs – didn’t know then and don’t know now what health care “reform” will cost them.
It’s not that businesses don’t want to provide health care. But when you add 30 million uninsured to the system, somebody has to pay. Businesses are afraid theirs will be the biggest burden.
Having four years to figure out the law is not a good answer.
Obama had a plate full coming into office, no doubt. The financial crisis was in full bloom; something had to be done. It can be argued that the bailouts and stimulus started by President Bush and continued by Obama perhaps mitigated a bigger global disaster.
But instead of concentrating on reviving the economy, the Obama administration saw opportunity in a crisis and rolled out its health care reform, tried to push through cap-and-trade legislation and over-expanded financial industry regulation.
After the election, Obama took a more conciliatory tone.
He admitted that he hadn’t found “the right balance” between increasing regulation to protect consumers and setting “the right tone publicly” to encourage businesses to expand.
Few would argue that the Wall Street bankers and investment firms didn’t need better oversight. But community banks felt as if they were unfairly lumped in with them and Washington created additional unnecessary and expensive regulatory burdens.
Obama took notice of business’ concerns last week.
“I’ve got to take responsibility in terms of making sure that I make clear to the business community, as well as to the country, that the most important thing we can do is to boost and encourage our business sector and make sure that they’re hiring,” he said.
Then there’s the matter of the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire on Dec. 31. Obama said he was willing to compromise.
“We’ve got to provide businesses with some certainty about what their tax landscape is going to look like.”
Republicans aren’t off the hook, however. They’ve promised smaller government, less spending and more accountability, but they failed to do that in the eight years before Obama.
Democrats got the message last week. Republicans need to remember it, too.
Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DENNIS SEID / NEMS Daily Journal