In an era defined by political polarization, there’s one issue that unites most Democrats and Republicans: the importance of entrepreneurship to the long-term health and vitality of the U.S. economy. We know from experience how bipartisan agreement can spur growth and we remain hopeful that in the year ahead, federal and state policymakers from both parties will approve measures that can spark an entrepreneurial renaissance.
We both approach this issue with first-hand knowledge about the power of entrepreneurship. One of us comes from a family that owned and operated a full-service scrap metal business for more than 85 years. The other was the CEO of a company that grew to become a publicly traded entity on the New York Stock Exchange. We saw how entrepreneurship created attractive new opportunities for the people who worked at these companies – putting money in their pockets and strengthening the broader economic climate.
While innovative new companies seem to be popping up daily, the reality is that entrepreneurship is in decline. As the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation has pointed out recently, the rate of new business creation in the United States today is much lower than it was in the 1980s. This long-term slowdown can be self-reinforcing – the lack of experience with working in a start-up environment makes it less likely people decide to strike out on their own.
We have a few ideas for what can be done to reverse the disturbing decline in entrepreneurship. And we’re confident these common-sense reforms can win broad bipartisan support.
Commentary by Robert Bennett, a Republican and former U.S. senator from Utah, and Dan Glickman, a Democrat and former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. They are both senior fellows with the Bipartisan Policy Center.