Although the presidential campaign is increasingly clogging the nation's news outlets with partisan tit-for-tat, there's a nasty political struggle in Europe these days that should be getting equal air time for it could affect Americans' lives even more than November's election results.
Across the Atlantic, some nations are facing bankruptcy. Unemployment is rising; banks are being seized; lenders are ducking good customers and protesters are taking to the streets. No one knows what might happen next, but it probably won't be pretty.
It was great that the president hosted a summit for the international Group of Eight leaders recently where they discussed Europe's impending stumble. But it would have been more productive had the attendees showed up at another summit in nearby Washington, D.C. conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business for small-business owners. There the G8 group could have learned from those who know a thing or two about fiscal responsibility, such as: control your spending, pay your bills on time, encourage employee productivity and always follow honest accounting practices.
Those practices should be considered a model of economic efficiency by America's political leaders who seem oblivious that we're on the same path as Europe. U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, addressing the small-business gathering, compared Congress' current decision-making to an impending calamity.
"I see us headed for a train wreck unless we get this turned around," Thune said, noting that crucial issues ranging from tax policy, to the debt limit, to regulatory reform are on hold until after the election. "We have to figure out a way to keep from doing harm to the economy. Unfortunately, too often, what happens in Washington, D.C., really does harm the economy."
If Washington fails to quickly make much-needed corrections to our economy and Europe's crisis spills onto our shores, we could suffer the same fate. Each passing day without action pushes us one step closer to sharing Europe's course of events and increases the odds that our economy will weaken further.
But the very people who could make significant contributions to restoring our economy — small-business owners — are hog-tied by their own government. They could be growing their businesses, creating jobs and building an economic firewall to insulate America from the inferno being fueled all across Europe. Instead, the Obama administration, as it has since taking office, consistently blocks Main Street with more complex regulations, loads of paperwork and cunning legal maneuvers designed to kill tax incentives essential to growth.
Washington, according to NFIB's latest small-business survey, is doing almost nothing to help entrepreneurs create jobs or bring much-needed financial stability. And if that isn't bad enough, the president's own class-warfare rhetoric vilifies those who dare take the risk of starting their own businesses.
Judging from concerns shared by the small-business group with members of Congress last week, the same causes of Europe's crisis are already gnawing away at America's economy. Only courageous decisions made quickly can prevent an economic train wreck for America.
Dan Danner is president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, which represents 350,000 small-business owners in Washington, D.C., and every state capital.