By Tim Pawlenty
November 17, 2016 at 5:00 am ET
The election of Donald Trump is obviously a political earthquake.
But make no mistake: An aftershock will follow if dysfunction in Washington continues. Americans are tired of gridlock and they understandably want results from the 45th president and congressional majorities from his own party.
During the campaign, I certainly had my differences with President-elect Donald Trump, including statements he made about women and minorities. But I’ve also had thoughtful conversations with him on policy matters, including how to get our economy growing again.
He has clearly heard the voice and frustration of so many Americans who lack hope and have felt economic pain or stagnation over the last 8 years. It’s time for leaders to come together and help ensure President Trump’s administration is inclusive, thoughtful and successful for all Americans.
President-elect Trump’s top priority should be to enact policy changes needed to turbocharge our economy, including: pro-growth tax reform, replacing Obamacare, addressing our menacing level of debt, unleashing American energy, modernizing regulation, fixing our infrastructure, and investing in key innovation and research. We all need to put aside the stale fights of yesterday and find common sense solutions to these very real challenges — and time is of the essence.
By 2030, 100 percent of tax federal collections will be needed just to fund entitlement programs. If we don’t make changes soon, funds urgently needed to fund key priorities such as the military, cancer research, veterans programs, homeland security, services for the poor and more could be in real jeopardy.
The situation is not hopeless and it’s not too late. Following World War II, America’s debt exceeded 100 percent of gross domestic product, but we were able to right the ship through robust economic growth. We simply can’t settle for a “new normal” of 1 percent to 2 percent annual GDP growth. That anemic level of growth will never allow us to retire our debt or even make real progress toward that goal. It is not a Republican or Democrat issue, it’s a math exercise. The key facts are not even in dispute.
The clock is also ticking on further fallout from Obamacare. The flaws of Obamacare are now plain for all to see. Crushing insurance premium increases are now being heaped upon millions of families and more of their hard-earned money is going to pay for their healthcare. Those families could instead be using that money to buy a house, pay-off student debt, increase retirement savings, fund their children’s education or for something else they need or enjoy. To make matters worse, more Obamacare taxes are set to kick in next year. But, just being opposed to Obamacare is not enough. Americans want real comprehensive health care reform that reduces cost, increases options, improves quality and maintains access. President-elect Trump has said he will tackle these issues and get health care reform right this time. We need to collaborate, compromise and see that it gets done.
There is also an urgent need to strike a better balance between the understandable need to use regulation to protect consumers and not going so far with regulation that miles of red tape is created that suffocates innovation, investment, entrepreneurial spirit and desperately needed job growth.
PayPal founder Peter Thiel recently said, “It would be kind to say government software works poorly because, much of the time, it doesn’t work at all….We don’t accept such incompetence in Silicon Valley and we must not accept it from our government.”
The American people sent a strong message to Washington that lack of results is no longer acceptable. Smart people with good ideas, like Thiel’s colleagues in Silicon Valley and others, should put their differences aside, step forward and help President-elect Trump’s team improve his view of government by making it more accountable and work better for the people it serves.
We live in the greatest country the world has ever known. Our new president-elect and Congress have a historic opportunity to make it even better. We should all work together to make sure that happens.
Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota, is chief executive officer of the Financial Services Roundtable.
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