Everyone’s complaining about our economy. The question is how to we move from negative criticism to positive action? George P. Schultz, former Secretary of Labor, Treasury and State, and former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, identified a number of things in an article called How to Get America Moving Again (Wall Street Journal, 8/4/2014). Most important, as he notes – most of us know these things need to be changed!
- Change the tax system. Eliminate many of the personal tax deductions, simplify the system and lower the marginal rate on a revenue-neutral basis. The 1986 Tax Act, passed by the Senate 97-3 offers a template.
- Change the corporate tax system. End tax inversion (see prior blogs on this topic). Lower the US tax rate so we’re more competitive; remember that our current rate is one of the highest among developed countries!
- Find ways to cut the regulatory octopus that is stifling the economy by creating an almost impossible maze to traverse and creates uncertainty to dooms action and raises costs. Here’s a goal to strive for: overhaul the complexity of regulations so small business can comply without having to hire compliance advocates that they can’t afford.
- Get control of spending. The burden of serving the government debt will continue to choke America’s ability to spend money for education, infrastructure and other key expenditures. And when interest rates rise, it will only get worse. This means creatively finding a way to reduce entitlement spending while still serving people who really need it. Many ideas have been offered over the decades, but the political parties have put their own government job security and party interests ahead of what is needed in the long-term.
Mr. Schultz notes one example of an area where creative solutions are within our reach. Noting that Singapore has some of the best healthcare facilities and health care outcomes in the world, it spends only 4.7% of GDP on health care, compared to 17.9% in the US. Careful analysis of best practices seems needed so we can adopt them as part of our overhaul.
It’s important to note that America will only get moving if WE do something about these issues. It’s up to us to influence decision makers and/or become the decision-makers to take these actions. Americans, led by our President, have decided to withdraw from taking a leadership role in public policy; hence we “lead from behind” which is an oxymoron. Increasingly, the public seems apathetic about tackling the really important, fundamental issues that require system/rules changing and creative new statesman-like long-term solutions.
The two political parties increasingly are giving up on trying to offer new solutions to well-known challenges (preferring to blame the other side). Yet the incumbents keep getting re-elected! So if you really want to get this country moving forward – it’s up to us to speak up in meaningful ways. How are you getting involved? Are you voting? Are you sharing your ideas with others? Are you speaking up in at forums? Are you even voting in most elections? Share with us what you’re doing and what you think others should do to move us forward.