The new administration through the business lens

2016 Election - The new administration through the business lensDonald J. Trump is our 45th president. Now the real work begins.

In Washington, things were at a virtual standstill for the better part of the past year. With so much riding on the election, lawmakers, lobbyists and everyone in between switched to campaign mode. But outside the Beltway, it was a different story.

For entrepreneurial midsized businesses, who wins and who loses in Washington, D.C., evokes a certain amount of indifference, mainly because CEOs feel politicians are indifferent to corporate America. There’s a palpable disconnect. The business leaders I’ve spoken with say it is in large part because the laws and regulations that come out of Washington don’t facilitate growth. In fact, one CEO described it as “suffocation by regulation.”

No one denies that the actions of Congress and the administration serve legitimate purposes and address valid concerns. The frustrations stem from years of cumulative regulatory actions layered one on top of the other. Some of the adjectives I hear most often are excessive, overreaching, impractical and counterintuitive. For far too long, Washington has taken a one-size-fits-all approach toward an important segment of our economy. And it just hasn’t worked.

What middle-market businesses need is the freedom to focus on what they do best — create, innovate and grow. This can be achieved by placing all businesses on a level playing field. Congress could ensure that their reforms do not benefit one segment of our economy at the expense of another. Or do not benefit other countries’ economies over ours, as happens with family-owned pass-through entities competing with multinational corporations that enjoy a more favorable tax position. Leveling the playing field is an issue we at Grant Thornton LLP have been following closely, particularly as it relates to tax reform, and it’s one that gives our clients a great deal of concern.

Another welcome legislative approach would be more narrowly tailoring regulations so the ends would justify the means. Many middle-market businesses cannot afford to allocate an undue portion of their human and economic resources to compliance. One CEO lamented he spends three days a week attending to compliance and only two days a week focusing on his business. CEOs want to invest more of their hard-earned capital back into the business and its people. High on the wish list would be Congress streamlining the number of tax filings in those states in which an employee worked 30 days or fewer.  

It will take helping leaders and members of Congress understand the needs of the middle-market businesses that employ their constituents and contribute so much to this country’s economy. It will take working with Congress to shape policy that supports innovation and drives growth. These are the efforts to which Grant Thornton has dedicated professionals like me.   

One of the things that makes our economy great is its diversity — the interplay between businesses of all sizes, organizational structures and industries. As a new Congress and administration arrive in Washington, we hope they will embrace this diversity and craft balanced policies that give all businesses an equal opportunity to succeed.

So let’s get started.

Mary Moore Hamrick
Mary Moore Hamrick is the national managing principal of Grant Thornton’s Public Policy practice. Based in Washington, D.C., she leads Grant Thornton’s public policy initiatives and government affairs efforts.
@   linkedin/marymoorehamrick

Most businesses define themselves by their industry; see Industry: What We Want from Congress for what Grant Thornton industry leaders would put on their wish list for the 115th Congress. See also Top 10 Takeaways in 2016 Election Results for policy decisions and regulations of the next two to four years that will determine the environment for business.

For more on prospects for legislative change, see Will tax reform help your business? See Predicting the realities of a Trump presidency: An Oxford Economics analysis for illustrations of potential changes in the political environment; the head of U.S. Macroeconomics for Oxford Economics assesses the promises of candidate Trump and forecasts how they might play out.