IndustryWeek Summit (Tax Reform)

Nov. 20, 1998, Washington, D.C.

BRANDT: That is an interesting exchange in the article. Jack was grateful for something. FARIS: I think part of the thing, Tom, that you are saying is that some of the push back we have gotten has been from some big business. But it gets back to certain things our members tell us too. And that is I want to know what is going to replace it first. DONOHUE:: And that is a damn good question. FARIS: And it is a great question because the answer to that question is the same as sun-setting legislation in all the states. DONOHUE:: And what you lose is when you do it -- FARIS: Oh, yeah, but the only way you can have -- you look at (Wisconsin governor) Tommy Thompson and you look at (Michigan governor John) Engler), and you look at what they have done in their two states on education. They sunset -- they sunset the taxing ability for education. Now do you think if we tried that nationally -- and they totally changed it. I think for me, I -- one of the things I want to kind of thank you very much for the -- I just think that your membership, our membership, all the membership around the table, it is kind of like having a bear and now we don't know what to do with it. We are afraid to let it go, but we still hold onto this dumb thing. I'm a recovering banker. JASINOWSKI: Well, who is the bear? FARIS: IRS is the bear. We can't get rid of this sucker. I'm a recovering banker. I'm not over it yet. I spent ten years in the banking business and it affects you for the rest of your life. I'm sorry. We don't have a twelve step program. DONOHUE:: Yeah, but you have got a backwards accounting system, which is most interesting. FARIS: Well, we do. A debit is a credit, a credit is a debit, we have gotten along fine. I found out I was in the banking business and we are sitting here trying to get people to save money. You know, save with us. Save with us. I started interviewing people who had savings accounts with us, and I said of all the things you like to do, where is savings on your like to do list. I couldn't find it. I mean, I couldn't find it. Let me tell you what they would do. Very quick to tell me why they were saving in terms of what they were going to spend it on. Nobody wants to save money. Everybody wants to spend money. Now let me tell you what we are doing in this town. We are trying to make a duck, instead of just calling it a duck, we are making it a winged fowl of unknown origin. And folks at home do not understand that. So we look, in my opinion, the issues that we agree on that are good for small business, if properly framed and articulated. Just as Tom was talking about a while ago, if you frame it and articulate it so somebody on the street understands why a smaller government will help me, then I will save for that. If I understand the benefit. Because there are three things really important. They want to know what is in it for me. What is in it for me. And what is in it for me. And I mean it is the three most important things. And the real question is, unless we frame it that way, instead of saying minimum wage is for a family of four. No it is not. We are losing the framing of the debate issue. What I hope we will do, more important to me then any particular issue we join and link arms on. And I think we will have some strange fellows in the linking there, male and female. But I hope that we can come together to say how do we frame this real issue so people on Main Street can understand why this is benefit to me. I would suggest to you that the Democrats and the Republicans won't have any choice but to go with what is good for jobs on Main Street. Once somebody understands it. Well, this happened with health care. We couldn't do it nationally, so we went to about six congressional districts. I guarantee you our members in those districts knew and understood what this thing would mean in terms of lost jobs. And they got very upset about it. I think we, as a group that are strongly supportive of what is good in a free market economy, can't talk about cutting and reducing all the time. People don't go to Jenny Craig to lose weight. They go to Jenny Craig to be thinner. They want what is going to be the benefit and results of being smaller. I would suggest to you that if we can't frame the debate on what we really want us to look like three to five years from now as a nation. And then how do you fit into that picture. Then we can back off and say O.K., how do we get there. Like your discussion about -- in San Diego. You get everybody to agree that building a stadium for a ball team is important. And then you agree on that. And later on you start arguing whether it is going to be union labor or not or who is going to pay for the roads. I'm suggesting that as a business community, people that want the free market economy, we better come together with our friends on the Hill from both sides of the aisle to say how do we frame this discussion. Because we have been out discussion framed. Our -- once people understand what we are for and what we believe in that is good for small business, we have a great majority of people in America. Fifty-three percent of every American working in business works in -- everybody works in the small business. That is what they want. BRANDT: Lets build on that, though. FARIS: Yeah, sure.

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