Politics is not my favorite subject, and it's not my favorite activity. I get a little involved in local politics. I support a few local politicians. But on the national level I think the best scenario is real simple: a split government. That way nobody has control and nobody can enact too many laws. The Republicans have blown the last few years, and when one party does something not so good or doesn't listen--as now, with the war--things swing the other way. That was obvious in the last election when the Democrats took over both houses. There's still a long time before the 2008 election, but I think it's very scary. I think it should be scary to all business people.
I'm not anti-Democrat, but when one party takes over both houses, things can get out of whack. Now, it looks as though the Democrats will have both houses and the presidency. That's always scary to me but moreso when the Democrats do it.
Republican philosophy has been more that the people who run businesses can be expected to do the right thing and take care of their employees. I'm not saying this is right or wrong, but because of that underlying feeling, Republican views toward tax laws and business regulations are slanted in the favor of business people.
The Democrats, on the other hand, feel that business people can't be trusted to do what's right and that the government should be involved. Who knows who's right? I certainly don't. I like to think that business people will take care of their people--we try to at CitiStorage--but not everybody does. And that's why I like split government. (For more on the issues that entrepreneurs will be watching in the presidential race, check out The Entrepreneurial Agenda.)
If the Democrats do control Congress and the presidency, I feel the whole business climate is likely to change. Take taxes. A lot of the tax cuts sunset in 2010. I'm afraid that would stagnate growth. You know, years ago--a lot of people don't remember this--the highest income tax rate was 80 percent. That disincentivizes entrepreneurs. They feel like they're working for the government. The more money that's in the pockets of business people, the more they spend building businesses and creating new jobs.
Since I've been old enough to vote, every four years, someone's always said, This is the most important election ever. Maybe it's a sign of age, but I'm about to tell you, this is going to be the most important election ever. So who am I going to vote for? I'm going to try to vote so there won't be overwhelming control by one party. I'm not going to be voting for the person but for the idea of split government.
NORM BRODSKY | Columnist
Street Smarts columnist and senior contributing editor Norm Brodsky is a veteran entrepreneur who has founded and expanded six businesses.