Shifting to a business focus
As President-elect Trump continues making his selections for Cabinet-level and other senior administration posts, some voices have expressed concern that the choices for some positions had a decidedly pro-business tilt. For them, this represents a shifting away from a more traditional approach to staffing Cabinet level positions with those who have had more traditional political backgrounds.
Good for business, good for the country
Such an emphasis on business isn’t unknown from our nation’s history. President Calvin Coolidge, speaking in 1925, famously told his audience that “ [t]he chief business of America is business.” Faint echoes of this spirit could be seen not three decades later, when Charles “Engine Charlie” Wilson, President Eisenhower’s choice to be the Secretary of defense and the former head of General Motors was asked about divesting himself of GM stock during his government service.
He answered that he didn’t see any problems with keeping his interest in GM “because for years I thought what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa.”
As of the time of this writing, key Cabinet nominees for the Departments of State, Labor, Education, and Commerce were from a business background that signaled both a return to an era of business-first approaches in government, and a possible extension of that approach beyond what any have ever seen.
While all must pass through extensive confirmation hearings in the Senate, which are bound to become politically charged, each does have business acumen that may prove to provide a different spectrum by which to view and execute the responsibilities of their offices.
An interesting appointment
Although the Small Business Administration isn’t a Cabinet post, per se, it is accorded Cabinet-rank within the government. Mr. Trump’s selection of Linda McMahon to lead the SBA was regarded as surprising by some, although it shouldn’t be.
As a co-founder of pro wrestling juggernaut WWE, formerly WWF, she has overseen explosive growth in a company that 30 years ago was a small regional company, without television or licensing deals. Now a publicly traded company with a current market share of more than $1.5 billion, the WWE grew through innovation and a dedication to making sure what began as a family business in local gymnasiums didn’t leave their family personally bankrupt.
While a background of professional wrestling certainly adds grist to the conversation mill, and will prove to be easy fodder for comics should her leadership falter, growth of small businesses and entrepreneurs is at the heart of the SBA’s mission.
Slashing business regulations
With offices in every state, the SBA provides financing and training opportunities for small business owners and those who want to be. In campaign statements, Mr. Trump proposed rolling back corporate income tax rates by as much as 20 percent and drastically reduce regulations that many perceive as burdensome when opening a small business, especially for the first-time business owner.
“Our small businesses are the largest source of job creation in our country,” McMahon said in a statement issued upon her selection.
“I am honored to join the incredibly impressive economic team that President-elect Trump has assembled to ensure that we promote our country’s small businesses and help them grow and thrive.”
Preparing for change
As we enter into the next presidential term, the landscape for business is sure to change. The economic landscape will be shifting alongside the governmental oversight and regulation that are applied to businesses, both large and small. This is common when transitions between political parties occur in the White House, and we should expect no differently at this point. Things will change, as they always do in business, and, on this front at least, we must hope that the business experience of those selected to lead and advise the President comes to bear.