Bipartisan practices are necessary to help U.S. businesses recover from COVID-19
Business, especially small businesses, is trying to make a comeback from the COVID-19 pandemic that hampered them for the past couple of years.
But, holding it back, even more, is government gridlock, several speakers at The State of American Business conference said on Jan. 12, with many of them sharing their views on what lies ahead for the economy.
“Business cannot be the only thing that works in this country, we need a government that also works,” said Suzanne P. Clark, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
While she talked about the humbling effects of the impending recession on businesses of all sizes, she also emphasized that some of the strain could be avoided if the government, specifically the American government, could refocus its priorities.
Some suggestions she made included addressing the border crisis while reassessing the visa process for applicants with professional backgrounds, which would benefit the progression of the American economy. She also discussed the potential for implementing permitting reforms as well as new trade deals.
One concept that was echoed by Rep. David Joyce, a Republican from Ohio, and Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia, was the need for bipartisan cooperation in order to pass legislation that works for both parties as well as businesses across the country.
Both spoke about how the cyclical flux of new laws, followed by those same laws being repealed because of power switching between the parties every election period was bad for business.
Joyce spoke of the “speed of business” and the long-term planning that often goes into businesses as being thwarted by the lack of planning on the part of the government.
Spanberger conveyed the need to keep America’s economic outlook as positive and as resolute as possible on the world stage.
She continued by saying that the best way for the U.S. to do that was by cutting back on the infighting among the different parties and instead working on further collaboration in the future.
Adena Friedman, CEO of NASDAQ, also spoke adding perspective on how proud people should be of the strength of the U.S. economy.
“We’ve been able to withstand some very disruptive events over the last three years and we continue to demonstrate a lot of resilience in our economy,” Friedman said.
She went on to argue for the need to preserve America’s competitiveness on the world stage as a model of democracy.
“I think if we can really show that we can operate successfully, in a bipartisan way, we can demonstrate to the world how critical a democracy is to economic success and societal success,” she said.
Friedman also discussed the need for public and private sectors to utilize innovation.
As for industries that are in the process of making a rebound, Tony Capuano, CEO of Marriott International, was able to speak for the hospitality sector.
The past year showed the flexibility of the travel industry to adapt and recover.
At the beginning of the pandemic, industry titans in the travel sector believed leisure travel would lead the travel recovery, with business travel following closely and group travel lagging.
“Leisure continues to be exceedingly strong, and group [travel] has surprised to the upside. Business travel is perhaps the tortoise in this ‘Tortoise and the Hare,’ slow and steady recovery,” said Capuano.
He also mentioned the emergence of a new type of travel, that of “bleisure.” Business leisure is when someone goes on a business trip but once all their engagements are completed, they easily slip into vacation mode, donning a swimsuit by Friday mid-afternoon, he said.
Some important figures shared by the Chamber of Commerce in tandem with the seminar included a look at the ongoing worker shortage, with 10.5 million unfilled jobs in the U.S. and 6 million unemployed workers in the U.S.
This means that for every 100 job openings there are only 73 available workers. If the percentage of people participating in the labor force was the same as in Feb. 2020, the workforce would feature nearly 3 million more people than it does today.
The government could ultimately aid the ailing workforce by taking steps to increase legal immigration while securing the border as well as incentivizing work by financing training programs that lead to good jobs and providing improved public services, such as more accessible childcare.