Sometimes you have to recharge your batteries.
As the father of three young boys who just received several electronic gadgets and gizmos this Christmas season, I have been changing and charging batteries nonstop the last few weeks. I have no doubt that stock in AA batteries increased recently, and I can assure you I had a direct impact on that. As annoying and expensive as that can be, there is no doubt that we also have to find ways to recharge our professional or personal “mental” batteries from time to time.
Well, this week I traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit with our congressional delegation, meet with officials at the U.S. Chamber, and catch up with some old friends working on Capitol Hill who I had not seen in years. For the most part, I come home recharged and ready to fight for policies that will help improve our economy and the quality of life for our citizens.
On Wednesday, we worked throughout the day with folks from the U.S. Chamber as Tom Donahue, the president of the chamber, rolled out their 2014 jobs agenda. It hits the mark. Donahue explained how the chamber would focus on proposals to increase international trade, advance America’s energy revolution, and improve our country’s infrastructure. He also spoke about the need to rein in the cost of ever-growing entitlement programs, target for extinction the harmful mandates and stealth taxes in Obamacare, control the regulatory explosion flowing uncontrollably out of federal agencies, and finally, to simplify the tax code to encourage investment. It is all red meat. These are obvious issues that we have to address as a nation.
The next day we visited with members of our state’s congressional delegation to highlight the issues important to our members back home. I made it clear that the number one thing I hear from Louisiana businesses is that we must address the workforce challenge. This includes ensuring that workers have technical training to do the job, soft skills to be reliable employees, and the ability to pass their drug test. Our workforce challenge, while daunting, is a good problem to have since it comes with economic growth. The more than $70 billion in new job announcements will require more than 250,000 skilled workers, with each job representing opportunity and a path to prosperity for each of our citizens. All we have to do is get those workers ready to seize the moment, and in most cases, all we really need is for government to stay out of the way.
Sure, there were some setbacks and disappointments in the trip. The Senate was anticipated to take up legislation to provide relief to our citizens from crushing flood insurance increases, but unfortunately, that vote failed to materialize. Hopefully, the vote will happen soon. Also, in talking to old friends on Capitol Hill, there is a real sense of frustration and disappointment that D.C. is simply overcome with gridlock and partisanship. Too many hallways were filled with talk of much-needed policies that unfortunately were destined for demise in a broken legislative process.
It is easy to focus on the plentiful challenges we face in D.C. Obviously, the American people need to start seeing solutions, rather than rhetoric, from our leaders. However, it is hard to drive by our nation’s capital and monuments without getting inspired. It is hard to hear and discuss focused policies that will stimulate economic growth and not be reminded that there is a blueprint for success. It is hard to see old friends dedicating their time and talents to make a difference and not be reminded why I once worked in Washington myself. I see the many challenges in D.C. like we all do, but I also see the great opportunity we have as citizens of the greatest country in the world. My batteries are charged up and ready to go, now let’s get to work.