After Election, America Needs To Focus On Innovation
By Jared Meyer
Since the rise of the Internet, the world has witnessed exponential levels of technological innovation. While this progress was quick to transform the American economy, Washington has struggled to keep pace. Business owners and consumers alike are frustrated with bureaucrats’ attempts to apply decades-old laws to regulate emerging technologies and new industries that could not be imagined when these laws were written.
Everyone recognizes that innovation is necessary for America to remain competitive in the 21st century global economy. In this interview, Representative John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) talks about barriers to entrepreneurship and how the government can work with innovators to amplify—rather than inhibit—their progress.
Jared Meyer: Despite booming technological advances over the past few decades, the rate of new businesses entering the U.S. economy has fallen to a 30-year low. Why is this happening?
Representative Ratcliffe: This trend has been heavily influenced by the countless rules and regulations churned out by the federal government. The idea that expanding government’s role in the economy is necessary for economic growth does not fit with the core principles that must be employed to get ahead in the 21st century.
As Ronald Reagan famously said, the government must “foster productivity, not stifle it.” Right now, instead of opening the door of opportunity for innovators trying to create the next generation of American jobs, antiquated federal policies seal that door shut with thick layers of red tape. This is why I introduced legislation such as the All Economic Regulations are Transparent Act (H.R. 1759) and the Separation of Powers Restoration Act (H.R. 4768), which both passed in the House and would combat federal overreach and excessive regulations.
Jared Meyer: You mentioned principles that are necessary for entrepreneurship. What are these principles?
Representative Ratcliffe: They are free enterprise, limited government, and the right to self-determination. To see these principles in action, just look at the business models of sharing economy companies like Uber and Lyft. Because of technological innovation, people can now work for themselves and turn their underused assets and free time into earnings opportunities. Yet the heavy hand of government regulation continues to threaten independent work’s growth.
Additionally, the overtime rules pushed out by the Obama administration are about to go into effect. These rules will stifle opportunity for those who need it the most. Because of the Department of Labor’s push to make people punch time cards, younger Americans will have a harder time acquiring critical skills and start-ups that could become the next Microsoft or Google may find themselves unable to expand.
Pushing back against a changing economy contradicts the foundational principles of America . We should be rewarding those who take risks and start their own business. Then the rest of us can reap the benefits that come with entrepreneurship, such as new jobs and a heightened competitive edge on the international playing field. Simply put, if the United States doesn’t make it competitive to innovate here, some other country will take our place. I’m committed to making sure that doesn’t happen.
Jared Meyer: In addition to your work to limit regulations, you introduced the Support for Rapid Innovation Act and the Leveraging Emerging Technologies Act, which both passed the House earlier this year. These bills would help form government partnerships with the private sector when it comes to cyber security. How do you view the government’s and the private sector’s roles in solving today’s policy challenges?
Representative Ratcliffe: Protecting Americans—and our businesses—from the threats posed by cyber criminals and other bad actors is a critical national priority. With that said, one of my legislative philosophies has always been to remember that the government doesn’t have all the solutions.
Right now, the private sector is leading the way with innovative cybersecurity technologies that defend our networks, safeguard Americans’ personal information, and protect our critical infrastructure. As chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s cybersecurity subcommittee, I’ve put an emphasis on empowering and facilitating private sector innovation, rather than stifling it with onerous and potentially ill-advised mandates.
While the bills I’ve introduced focus specifically on collaborative cybersecurity efforts, they’re part of a broader plan my Republicans colleagues and I are supporting called the “Innovation Initiative.” The legislation included in this plan aims to allow the government to work alongside folks in the private sector as a partner rather than a regulator.
Jared Meyer: Your point about the value of “innovation, not regulation” being promoted as a cornerstone of the GOP reminds me of my testimony before the House Republican Policy Committee last year. I argued that the political party that can brand itself as the party of entrepreneurs, innovation, and economic growth is the party that will attract millennial voters . Do you see your emphasis on innovation as a way to win over potential constituencies—such as millennials—that do not traditionally lean Republican?
Representative Ratcliffe: I fully believe Republicans have the winning ideas our country needs. But Republicans have been out-messaged by our counterparts on the other side of the aisle. While some have advocated for watering down or moderating our principles to enhance the message, I firmly disagree with this approach. Republicans must remain unwavering in our strong support for the key principles that I mentioned earlier—free enterprise, limited government, and the right to self-determination. Though these ideas need to be discussed in ways that fully recognize the realities of the 21st century economy.
Republicans can accomplish this by clearly demonstrating how conservative solutions will provide real opportunities for Americans who need it the most. For example, just look at the opportunities that Uber has created despite government overreach. Just a few years ago, summoning a private car was a luxury reserved for a select few. Now, many Americans across all income levels have access to affordable on-demand transportation.
Millennials value entrepreneurship, as two-thirds of them want to work for themselves or start a business. If Republicans show that we are in tune with millennials’ concerns, millions of young people will be receptive to the benefits that free-market policies offer. By articulating just how much the Obama administration’s rules and regulations have hurt entrepreneurs, we can shed light on why free-market principles are as important today as they ever have been. “Innovation, not Regulation” is more than an election cycle soundbite—it’s an enduring and forward-thinking priority that Republicans must continue to embrace.
- See more at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jaredmeyer/2016/11/07/after-election-america-needs-to-focus-on-innovation/2/#235978685a55