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Meltz and Schlein: How Democrats Can Improve Relationship With Big Business

3. Improve rhetoric about the role of business in this country. During the last campaign, speeches by the president and then-candidate Elizabeth Warren were taken out of context, particularly the line by the president: “you didn’t build that.” Republicans misleadingly said the phrase implied that the government built their businesses. But even if you took them at face value, it insinuates that businesses in this country should be thankful for government and Washington, D.C.

This sets the wrong tone. Yes, government regulation helps level the business playing field and facilitates honest competition while ensuring consumer protection and safety. And, yes, the government does build the transportation infrastructure, educates future employees and protects our national interests abroad. But, it’s businesses putting money into the federal coffers that allows the government to function. Not vice versa.

Over the past several years, everything has become more polarized in Washington, and nearly every special interest has been forced to align itself with one party or the other — and business groups are no different. Congressional Democrats can go along with that status quo, but, ultimately, we believe that is bad for both the party and, more importantly, the nation. If Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the White House want to lead over a successful economic recovery, they simply must find ways to work more closely with the employers.

Gary Meltz and Steven Schlein are former Capitol Hill staffers who serve as senior vice presidents at Dezenhall Resources.

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