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A businessman’s take on Washington.

May 19, 2017

Many people who voted for the President did so based on his economic vision for America, not which party’s banner flew over him.

One of those voters is “Dan.” He is the owner of a comparatively small real estate development company in one of the Midwestern fly-over states. Here’s his take on the craziness in Washington.

“As a businessman, I can’t afford to be partisan. I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool anything. I didn’t like or trust Barack Obama’s policies because he was so anti-business, not because he was black or a Democrat. Same with Clinton and Sanders. It wasn’t what they look like that cost them my vote.

I voted for Trump because he seemed to understand that Main Street has to thrive for the country to thrive.

Here’s something else. I don’t follow Trump or anyone else on Twitter. I just don’t have time to waste on that.   

I watch a couple of news shows at night, and I have someone who tries to keep track of legislation that affects me and my business, but that’s how interested I am in the daily gossip.

Even so, I’m disgusted by the personal attacks on Trump’s family, and I can’t imagine or remember any President that has ever been treated so disrespectfully.

Here’s what I do care about.  

I don’t think that anybody in Washington understands or cares about the business cycle, except maybe the President. I need certainty for the next decade, not the next year.

As a developer, I have to first identify what people are going to need and want, and then create a property that meets those needs. Just getting the first house or commercial building finished has a three to five year lead time.

That means I have to plan sometimes 10 or even 20 years out. Where will the business centers be in 10 years? What size houses will people want then? Do I need to push for zoning changes? What about utilities and municipal services? What effect will higher energy prices have on how far out I can go from a city limit to build a subdivision? All that takes time.

And even after all that, I have to plan for my costs. What will lumber cost in five years? What will interest rates be in 2020?

There is only one measure of success in business, and that’s the balance sheet. Either you stay in business or you don’t.

As taken as I was with the President’s vision, I was worried that he couldn’t make it happen. He’s a big idea guy, not a day-to-day manager, so who he picked to work with him, his Cabinet you know, and how he gets along with Congress absolutely matters.

So far I don’t see that part of it working. It isn’t all his fault.  They say that 30% of Republicans don’t want him, and by extension businesspeople, to succeed. And of course we could see early on that he was never going to get any support from Democrats. He can’t do all this alone.

Some of it IS his fault, in the sense that he gets in his own way.  When he popped off about being able to be President and still have time left over to run his companies, it bothered me. I knew he didn’t understand what he was getting into, from a political standpoint.

I was a city councilman for one term. I guess you might say I wanted to see things from the other side. I didn’t like the view.

Politics is not like business in that there is no loyalty to anything but what will get you elected again.  Lies and half-truths are a professional politician’s stock in trade, and if you think you can change that, you are dreaming.

Anyway, that’s why what happens in Washington matters to me. It affects the general health of my business.  In the larger sense, I know that for me to do well the country has to do well. People have to make money in order to buy houses or open new businesses.

Do I have any hope that Washington will ever really change? No.

Trump getting elected did affect my planning, my outlook, I guess you could say.

I hired a 20% larger crew this year than I have for the past six years. Getting out from under all the mandates and regulations of the past eight years IS a big deal for me. Taxes matter because every dollar I can keep in my business is going to go to someone’s paycheck, or the local lumber or concrete company. I bought some new equipment. That helped pay some salesman’s wages.

So, all the crap going on, it’s important only because its damn personal for me. I don’t give a whit about the FBI director, or who’s offended because Trump cusses.

I do care about the things the President ran on. I like what he’s done up to now on keeping his promises, but more has to happen. If he can’t get the big stuff through Congress then we all lose, not just him.

I am astounded by how viciously Democrats have attacked him, but after the campaign he should have been prepared for it. Crying about it now, unless he can stop it, is a waste of time.

I’ll tell you one thing though.  If it negatively affects my business, then all this nastiness will affect how I vote in two years, and it will damn well matter to me who runs for president in 2020.



From → op-ed

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