Carly Fiorina was in Manchester to talk about NH’s sputtering economy based on findings of a new IBC report, which you can read below.
MANCHESTER, NH – One takeaway from a Friday morning breakfast meeting of the Independent Business Council is that Republicans are already in strategy mode for the 2016 presidential election.
Center stage was a review of data from the IBC 2014 “Economic Policy Benchmark Report: Setting the Stage for New Hampshire’s Next Economic Boom.”
Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and 2010 GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in California, was on tap as special guest speaker – an interesting sidelight, particularly with the approach of New Hampshire Presidential Primary season.
Fiorina talked about key data included in the 36-page study, and the need for New Hampshire to support the growth and economic stability of its “small business engine.”
She noted that she has been a frequent flyer to New Hampshire as chairman of the Unlocking Potential Project, a national GOP initiative aimed at closing the organizational “gender and technology gap” that exists between Republicans and their Democrat counterparts by getting women engaged in politics.
At the same time, she bristled when asked how important is it for the GOP to have a woman on the presidential ballot in 2016.
“We need to move away from “identity politics,” said Fiorina, which she calls a “divisive” practice that compartmentalizes and isolates people instead of creating common ground.
Fiorina said she is focused on helping Republican candidates like IBC founder Congressman-elect Frank Guinta now that he’s heading back to Washington, D.C., and his efforts to act on the findings in the IBC report.
Her presence at the small Dec. 5 gathering at the Manchester Country Club of about 50 people prompted the direct question of whether she is running for president in 2016. Fiorina did not rule it out.
“In the course of those visits and travels many people have said to me I ought to consider [running for president in 2016], and so I’ll pause and reflect and consider it – but I have no announcements for you today,” Fiorina said, following the meeting.
Guinta introduced Fiorina as a “seasoned problem solver” and highlighted her accomplishments in business and politics and philanthropic endeavors, including her rise from a secretary in a small real estate business to CEO of Hewlett-Packard, as first woman to lead a Fortune 20 business.
She is also chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation and board chairman of Good 360, and serves as Global Ambassador for Opportunity International, a microfinance organization targeting women living in poverty around the world.
On a personal note, he also mentioned Fiorina’s bout with breast cancer in 2009, and the loss of her youngest step-daughter, Lori Fiorina, that same year.
Fiorina focused in on the importance of leadership to right a ship in the context of the report’s “very important” findings on New Hampshire’s current economic state.
“One of the things I used to say when I was at Hewlitt-Packard comes to mind as I listen to this report. One of the things that change takes is the ability to hold the mirror up. In order to change anything, whether it’s our personal diet or the state of our state, we have to be willing to hold the mirror up, see the truth, speak the truth, and act on the truth,” Fiorina said.
And it is the responsibility of leaders to hold up that mirror, she said.
She also acknowledged that New Hampshire needs to step up efforts to compete, and that good management isn’t enough.
“Leadership is about changing the order of things. In particular, the highest calling of leadership is to unlock potential in others, and that’s what this recommendation — that really focuses on entrepreneurship and small business ownership and creating and inventing new businesses — is all about,” Fiorina said. “It’s about unlocking the potential that exists in this state.”
She said the report should be a call to action for New Hampshire to support small businesses because they are the heart of innovation.
“Most people get their start in a small business, so it is of huge concern, not just for NH, it is a huge concern across the nation that we are for the first time in our nation’s history destroying more businesses than we are creating. Fewer small businesses are starting and more are failing than at any time in 45 years,” Fiorina said.
Small business owners are giving up because “it’s just too hard,” or put another way, the risks are too high and the rewards are too low, Fiorina said. And 70 percent of small business owners say that government is “hostile toward them.”
“Not neutral, hostile. Here’s the truth: Big business can deal with government,” Fiorina said, because they have lots of lawyers, accountants and lobbyists.
“So what’s happening is the leviathan of government … is crushing small businesses, and in the process, we are crushing the innovation, we are crushing job creation and we are crushing the job opportunity potential of this nation,” Fiorina said.
In summarizing things, Guinta said based on the report, it’s clear New Hampshire has much to do if it is going to find its way to an economic boom.
“We have a lot of work to do in our state. We all believe it’s a wonderful place to live and do business. But when we look at us, comparatively speaking, we are not hitting the mark, and we’ve got to do a far more effective job as business leaders and political leaders in our state to insure we have a path to prosperity in the long-term,” Guinta said.
He said the goal is that the report should become a catalyst for a bi-partisan cooperative effort in Concord to “make the legislative changes that are essential for us to meet our potential.”
Stephen Jordan of IO Sustainability, who co-authored the report, spent some time on the issue of corporate income tax. He presented highlights from the report and cited three other states with no corporate income tax, Washington, Texas and Ohio, as interesting case studies for New Hampshire. He noted that the national average corporate income tax is 6 percent, while New Hampshire has an 8.5 percent corporate income tax.
“The good news is, if we were to get to 5.5 percent corporate income tax, that would make us totally competitive,” Jordan said.
During the question and answer session, an attendee representing American Friends Service Committee, asked Fiorina as a CEO how she would thwart the threat of corruption from “corporate cronyism” to the U.S. government and its economy.
AFSC’s Presidential Campaign Project has set out to “bird dog” presidential candidates on their stance on “corporate influence over government policy” in the 2016 election cycle.
“Crony capitalism is a real problem because big business and big government feed off each other,” Fiorina said “There are some who would argue that the answer to corporate cronyism is more big government and I think the data is pretty overwhelming that more big government makes corporate cronyism worse not better, because only big business can deal with big government.”
Fiorina cited the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act as an example of a piece of “incredibly complicated” federal legislation weighed down by tens of thousands of pages of additional regulation.
“What’s the indisputable outcome of Dodd-Frank? That ten banks ‘too big to fail’ have become five banks too big to fail. Those five banks are now engaged in intensive, ongoing discussions with the government about every single aspect of their operation. They may not like that but there’s no question their competitive position has been strengthened, not weakened – there are five of them, not ten of them. And record bonuses have been paid for the last three years… in the meantime, the community banking system is on its back,” which is where 97 percent of businesses, families and family owned businesses get their credit, Fiorina said.
Highlights of the IBC Economic Policy Benchmark Report
The report was authored by Stephen Jordan, co-founder of Virginia-based IO Sustainability, and former Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center; and Dr. Susanne Trimbath, an economist and financial consultant.
The Executive Summary cites four principles to guide the process of positioning New Hampshire for competitive success followed by a step-by-step state policy agenda:
1. A Commitment to Being Competitive
2. A Commitment to Investing in People
3. A commitment to Continuously Improving Infrastructure and Reducing Business Factor Costs
4. A commitment to Strengthening an Enterprising Culture
- Reduce NH’s corporate tax disadvantage compared to the rest of the country by reducing the state’s marginal tax rate by at least 300 basis points which would set the state’s business tax rate below the national average of 6 percent.
- Streamline NH’s approach to regulations by reinstitution of sunset provisions and review of old and obsolete regulations.
- Promote entrepreneurship and investment in young businesses so NH grows its own economy by developing venture capital investment incentives while working with educators to promote youth awareness of business and skills development
- Support “Yankee ingenuity” by supporting existing innovators in the robotic, advanced manufacturing, medical technology, aerospace and maritime control industries while embracing tort reform, “right to work” legislation and new forms of work arrangements and compensation
It also looks at the need to restructure the state budget, citing entitlements and administrative costs currently accounting for just under 50 percent of the budget. At the same time, a larger investment in education, transportation, the environment and other “critical infrastructures” are recommended.
Below is the final draft of the IBC NH Economy Policy Report
Contact IBC at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 603-860-0474.