Steve Forbes, prominent media executive and former presidential hopeful (1996, 2000) joined Inc. Business Owners Council Members last night to share insights into the challenges entrepreneurs face during the fragile economic recovery as well as his ideas for creating a robust partnership between business and government. The conversation was moderated by Lewis Schiff, Executive Director, Inc. Business Owners Council and the event was co-presented by Inc. Business Owners Council and Rothstein Kass.
Drawing on a message from his recent book, How Capitalism Will Save Us, Forbes' views come across most passionately on the subjects of free markets and their role in fostering competition, innovation and growth. Forbes believes there is an important place for the government in that mix: setting the rules and assuring safety. Beyond that, he believes capitalism should remain as unfettered as possible in order to bring about the best results for the American people.
Forbes had particular concern about some of the recent regulation that's come out of Washington, including the Dodd-Frank bill, which seeks to address some of the causes that led to the economic crisis of 2008, and the recent healthcare reform bill which he feels puts the government in a role of insurer that would be better served by competing health insurance companies.
With regards to fostering a more productive relationship between "Wall Street" and "Main Street," Forbes saw little chance for innovation in the capital markets which might lead to a more nurturing entrepreneurial environment. He pointed out that the Dodd-Frank bill, should it succeed in establishing "Systemically Important" institutions, would make it harder for smaller, more creative financial companies to swoop in underneath large ones in new, creative ways. In Dodd-Frank, the "Systemically Important" institutions (large money center banks) become a protected class--albeit a heavily regulated one--which acknowledges and codifies institutions that are "too big to fail".
With regards to the upcoming presidential election, Forbes said he was still investigating the field of Republican candidates. He remains committed, however, to a "flat tax," and a return to the gold standard for the U.S. dollar and the reduction of foreign aid except for disease and natural disaster and he hoped that these would be issues in the coming election cycle.