Another Roadblock to Capital for Entrepreneurs

Access to capital is the lifeblood of a small business if it wants to grow and hire. Yet, increasingly the U.S. government puts roadblocks in front of entrepreneurs who, with a little financial help today, could be tomorrow’s Apple. For example, let’s take Dodd-Frank, which is forcing our community banks out of business. For more than a hundred years, community banks have been the economic drivers for small business, communities and the nation. But they have been replaced by megabanks that are getting bigger, fueled by the flawed perception that they are “too big to fail.” Our community banks have just 12 percent of all banking assets, compared with megabanks’ 70 percent. The real tragedy is when community banks fail, local businesses no longer have access... Read More

Exports Must Be Freed From Partisan Politics

I am a die-hard advocate for supporting U.S. exports, so it concerns me that exports have been taken hostage during the ongoing Congressional infighting. Exports are vital, considering that more than 38 million American jobs depend on trade. One in three manufacturing jobs depends on exports, and one in three acres on American farms is planted for hungry consumers overseas. U.S. exports set another record in 2012, growing 4.4 percent ($66 billion) and reaching $1.56 trillion, despite significant economic headwinds from abroad. So we should all be concerned about the latest Congressional battle revolving around granting President Obama fast track negotiating authority, or trade promotion authority (TPA), which gives the president the authority to negotiate international agreements... Read More

Look to States – not the White House or Congress – for Economic Innovation

If your perception of this country’s economic outlook is based on the depressing news coming out of Washington D.C., you’re missing the big picture. Innovation, job creation and statesmanship aren’t coming out of the White House — they’re coming out of states like Wisconsin and North Dakota, which are unencumbered by flawed federal policies and uninspired leadership. I recently chatted with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on my radio show “Made in America,” and I came away with renewed respect for his leadership. Editor’s Note: Get These 4 Stocks Before 399% Stock Market Rally! Walker’s “Blueprint for Prosperity” has turned a $3.6 billion deficit in Wisconsin into a $2 billion dollar surplus. The word “surplus” has disappeared from our federal government... Read More

American Innovation Better Than Ever

Writing from Chicago at the annual Housewares Show, it reminds me how many American entrepreneurs are in this industry. From booth to booth, new entrepreneurs mingle with entrepreneurs who have been in this industry for decades. What they have in common is a vision and the inner drive to make their ideas a reality and risk everything to grab a piece of the American Dream. No nation can out-innovate the United States of America. Measured as patents per capita, the United States takes first place by a large margin, followed by Japan, Switzerland, Finland and Israel. The late Steve Jobs at Apple held 317 patents himself. So it’s not surprising that people attending the show represent nations throughout the world who are drawn to American innovation and product quality. They understand... Read More

Our Disappearing Labor Force

The year 2014 is turning out to be a reincarnation of 1978, when we had an out-of-touch Democratic president who failed to spur the economy and help create jobs. In fact, the labor force participation this year equals that of 1978, when only 62.8 percent of American civilians 16 or older had a job or actively looked for work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is estimated that more than 11 million people have dropped out of the labor force under President Obama, either because they can’t find a job or lack the skills for employment. Essentially, people have just given up. Ironically, these people don’t figure into the unemployment rate. So despite the fact that October 2013 marked the 59th straight month of a 7-percent-plus unemployment rate in the United... Read More

Obama Is Manufacturing His Manufacturing Numbers

Most presidents surround themselves with cabinet and staff members who have the skill sets required to handle the daunting tasks that they face each day. President Obama has taken a different approach. He hires fiction writers. If you spend any time looking at the unemployment numbers, for example, the Obama administration puts the national unemployment rate at just under 7 percent. That sounds very manageable, unless you take into account the 11 million Americans who have dropped out of the labor force and are no longer actively seeking a job. Conveniently, they aren’t accounted for in the unemployment numbers. If you counted them, the unemployment rate would be near 16 percent. So the Obama fiction writers understand that if you can’t actually improve the economy, you... Read More

American Trade Policy Stuck in Neutral

For a president who vowed to double exports in five years, you have to wonder why President Obama has been unable to make any progress in expanding U.S. trade. This week, Obama met with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to reaffirm their support for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) estimates has grown the U.S. economy from roughly $290 billion in 1993 to more than $1.1 trillion in 2012. Today, according to the CFR, the United States trades more in goods and services with Mexico and Canada than it does with Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Russia, India and China combined. So it would make all kinds of economic sense for the United States to support NAFTA. Except if you are in the Obama... Read More

Cronyism Steals Taxpayer Money and International Prestige

The Constitution gives Congress the power to raise funds (tax) and appropriate (spend) those funds to check the power of the executive branch by controlling the resources of the president. The thinking was that it would prevent the president from abusing the means to serve his own ends. Somewhere along the line this process has gone terribly wrong, especially under the Obama administration, which gives its “friends” enormous amounts of money and privileges without any semblance of oversight. The administration treats taxpayer money as if it was a credit card for the Democratic Party — with no spending limit. Cronyism, or “pork barrel” politics, was not invented under President Obama, but he has taken it to new heights. The term pork barrel politics traces... Read More

College Degree No Longer the Solution to Good Jobs

More than 40 percent of recent U.S. college graduates are unemployed, underemployed or need more training to get on a career track, according to a poll released last year by global management consulting firm Accenture. The online survey of 1,050 workers who finished school in the previous two years and 1,010 who received their degree in 2013 also found that many graduates, some heavily in debt because of the cost of their education, say they are in jobs that do not require a college degree. In fact, just 53 percent of the graduates found full-time jobs in their field of study. Based on this data, it’s hard to understand why President Obama keeps promoting the benefits of a college education. He recently unveiled a plan to rate colleges by the tuition they charge, and favor those... Read More

A Culture of Dependency

In most wars a victor is declared. Yet, there is one war that has raged for more than half a century and there is no winner: the war on poverty. It started under the Lyndon Johnson administration with the best intentions. Now 50 years and $20 trillion later, poverty in this nation has actually grown worse. How can the richest nation on earth have 50 million people living in poverty? The answer is that we have substituted a path to employment for a path to dependency. Entitlements that were originally meant as a brief stopover to a better life are now considered career destinations. We have created a culture of dependency. The American Dream itself is under attack. It is being undermined and redefined. For millions of people, it is no longer about hard work and sacrifice, but access... Read More