BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Congressman Ed Case, D-HI (2002-2007) said on Wednesday, January 11, at the Smart Business Hawaii Annual Business and Investment Conference there is a “yawning chasm” between business and government, a gap the private attorney hopes to bridge if he is elected to U.S. Senate this year.
“I join you this morning wearing two hats. One is as a thirty year lawyer and businessperson who has advised businesses through all manner of challenge, who has run both of my law businesses, and who knows firsthand what it’s like to balance a budget, make payroll, pay excessive and confusing taxes and deal with burdensome government.
“The other is as a candidate for the critical position of your United States Senator, following years of service focused on helping small businesses as your U. S. Congressman and Hawai’i Representative. A candidate who believes deeply that Congress is not providing us with strong effective leadership.
“Very few elected officials in our Hawai’i and no other candidate in this critical race has lived and worked in these two very different worlds. No other candidate in this election has walked routinely through the ‘Valley of Death’, as I always call it, the route between the worlds of business and government where neither has a clue about the other.”
Case, a Democrat who served on the Smart Business Hawaii board of directors, said small businesses are the economic engine of our community, but most government officials don’t support this important sector of Hawaii and the nation’s economy.
Speaking to a room packed with small business owners at the Ala Moana Hotel, Case said: “All in this room would agree that growing our economy and preserving and creating good jobs for all Americans must be our top priority. And all of us would agree that our government is too often the obstacle rather than part of the solution.”
- “Focusing in on specific business initiatives but squarely face all of our other challenges, especially balancing our federal budget.
- “Focusing on the Four Ts of tax reform, technology, trade and talent in the workplace.
- “Focusing on Hawaii’s ‘bread and butter’ industries like tourism but promising new export industries such as green energy, health care and education.
- “Focusing always on the engine of growth, small business.”
Today’s Washington is the obstacle to business, Case said, saying leadership is needed in Washington to truly grow the economy.
“Here the lessons of the world of business in which we all live and work are all over the place. It comes down always to strong effective leadership. That matters in both government and business: both thrive when they are led decisively and effectively, and both flounder when they are not,” Case said.
The former Congressman, who was elected in 2002 and entered Congress in 2003, said at the time, the national debt was about $6 trillion and on a “completely unsustainable path”, something he and other Republicans and Democrats warned against as a member of the U. S. House Committee on the Budget, but their warning was met with a “wall of denial.” Today, national debt has exceeded $15.2 trillion, Case said. “Would that our federal government been strong then, we would not be in this puka (hole) today.”
Case said business people look for “every opportunity, every way, every idea to get things done” and that those business owners who do things because they’ve always been done that way, “seize up and fail.”
“In the real world of business, success is about breaking down barriers, about reaching across differences, about forging partnership, about compromise where possible and reasonable. Why should government be any different?” Case asked, reiterating the importance of leadership.
Case, a former “Blue Dog Democrat”, will have to beat the considerably more liberal Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, D-HI, a favorite of Hawaii’s powerful U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye and the party insiders, in the primary. If he does succeed, he would run against former Gov. Linda Lingle in the general election.