Tallahassee, FL V. Washington, D.C.: A Tale Of Two Ideologically Opposite Cities
This is a tale of two cities.
One is Washington, DC.
The other, Tallahassee, Florida.
In Washington DC, new legislation and regulation are crafted every day. These laws and rules are both cumbersome and complex. They are enacted without a true understanding of the impact on Americans across the country.
For instance, healthcare. The new law is unwieldy, complicated, and may eventually force hundreds of thousands of workers into state-based government exchanges. The law’s implementation is, as retiring Montana Democrat Sen. Max Baucus described it, “a train wreck.” And just recently the White House announced the start date for this dreaded employer mandate is being pushed back for an indefinite period because no one has yet been able to figure out how to enforce it. Hopefully, this delay is the first step towards the dismantling of Obamacare, but I doubt it.
In the meantime, the American people and the businesses they own or work for cannot plan for their future under such uncertain circumstances. Big corporations may be able to manage the situation better, with the resources to navigate a complex world of regulations. But small businesses are at the mercy of what Washington decides. All the while hiring decisions continue to be put on hold as businesses wait for Washington politics to run their course.
In this city, no one, neither President Obama nor the Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been able to get a handle on the most serious problems confronting the nation: the lack of job creation and economic growth. The real June unemployment (U6) rate spiked to 14.3% from 13.8% just a month ago. The U6 rate is a true unemployment number. It counts people without a job who actively seek full-time employment. It also includes those who are discouraged and have stopped working, plus those who are working part time but who seek full time employment.
This unemployment rate spike occurs at the same time Washington holds up the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. The President says he will not approve Keystone unless it can first be determined that the pipeline will not lead to a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions. This is a fatal test now left to the vagaries of bureaucratic discretion of the EPA. Don’t bet the Keystone project will ever get started under the current Administration. In this city, job growth is subordinated to the whims of special interests.
The fundamental reason for this failure is a lack of cooperation between the two parties. Indeed, they’re unable to set aside differences long enough to embark on a real search for solutions. This divide has blinded both political parties to how economies grow. Simply put, economies grow when barriers to production are removed, but as the Obamacare and Keystone examples reveal, government is presently erecting as opposed to dismantling barriers to growth. This city is long on talk and short on solutions. As one famous resident of this city, President Ronald Reagan, famously declared almost 30 years ago, all too often “government is the problem.” Almost no one believes that more government is the solution. This is certainly true where the federal government is concerned.
And then there is the other city – Tallahassee. Under the stewardship of Florida Governor Rick Scott and members of the state legislature, Tallahassee has adopted a robust pro-business model. Industry leaders see the economic environment amplifying from Tallahassee as a welcome for small, medium and big corporations. Florida, shall we say, is open for business.
There is no state income tax. The regulatory climate has eased without compromising system integrity, and the workforce is among the best on the nation. We not only attract businesses and employees from other states where the business climate is poor, but we create jobs as well. Florida’s unemployment rate is 7.1% – lower than the national average – and continues to drop.
Florida ranked No. 2 in Chief Executive magazine’s eighth annual survey of CEOs identifying the best and worst states in which to do business. The 736 CEOs participating gave the state high marks in the areas of taxes and regulation, workforce quality, and living environment, second only to Texas.
“Florida moved up from number three last year to number two,” the magazine wrote in 2012. “Last year, Florida Gov. Rick Scott penned a tongue-in-cheek letter to Texas Gov. Rick Perry, warning him that Florida is coming after the Lone Star State’s top ranking. Since Scott took office, his administration in Tallahassee has enacted business tax and regulatory reforms that have contributed to the creation of more than 140,000 private sector jobs and an unemployment drop of 2.1 percentage points last year—one of the biggest decreases in the nation.”
Gov. Scott and the legislature in Tallahassee are continuing to keep the Sunshine State on a steady course, moving ahead by getting out of the way so business leaders, entrepreneurs and investors can thrive.
A tale of two cities. On one hand we have Washington, where almost every government agency employs masses of untested experts ready to tell every CEO who asks – as well as those who don’t – how to run their business, whom to hire and what to produce. Then we have Florida, where businesses come to grow and mature under the responsible leadership of a government in Tallahassee that encourages every citizen to pursue their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Depending on the government you look at, it is the best of times and the worst of times.
Ed Pozzuoli is the President of the law firm Tripp Scott in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Most recently, he served as a campaign advisor to Ambassador Jon Huntsman during the 2012 Republican Primaries.