Private businesses, which create more than 65 percent of new jobs, operate in a very simple way: Owners look at what revenues are going to be over the next 12 or 24 months, and they look at expenses. If those are good and seem stable, and owners have a good idea of what taxes are going to be, they will hire people. Business owners would prefer to have a bad policy identified early than to have a good one put in place at the last minute, leaving them no time to plan to hire people and invest in growth.
It's popular to blame Washington for everything, but from a private-company perspective, it seems as if both sides in this case are doing more bickering and posturing than proposing options. If you look over the past 200-plus years of American history, we are in an unprecedented time where members of each party are so convinced of their moral correctness, that they're unwilling to compromise. For centuries, cooperation has traditionally been the fulcrum of our ability to get things done.
At the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton and Jefferson had deeply divergent views regarding the role of the federal government, the assumption of debts incurred during the American Revolution, and even where the Capitol should someday be located (aptly later put in a swamp in northern Virginia). Yet, they came together to find solutions for the greater good. Even Ronald Reagan, the iconic conservative figure, was able to work out deals with Tip O'Neill, the House Democratic majority leader.
Today, if I'm a politician in either party, and I don't agree with you, my view is that you are fundamentally wrong, not just a person who might have a different set of beliefs from my own. If I can label you as unreasonable or perhaps even evil, then I conveniently eliminate the need to hear you out and work with you. Some people reading this might contend that working with others leads to a kind of moral relativism, where there is no right and no wrong. My view is that people of good will with strong views can vehemently oppose one another's views, and still be able to compromise on most issues, certainly on fiscal ones.
The message to Congress is simple: Adapt. Figure it out. Make the tough choices. It's what business owners do every day, and it's what Americans have done for centuries – even when it comes to really hard problems. Tackle the problem instead of each other. Give businesses as much time as possible to plan ahead so they can do what they want to do: Generate more income (which can be taxed) and hire more people.
Edward Burke wrote that "all government—indeed, every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue and every prudent act—is founded on compromise and barter." We need to heed these words now more than ever.
The opinions here are those of the writers and not those of ABC News.
Mary Ellen Biery, Research Specialist at Sageworks, contributed to this article.
Brian Hamilton is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Sageworks and a noted expert on privately held companies. He is an original architect of the company's artificial intelligence technology, FIND, which is used by approximately 700 financial institutions and 5,000 CPA firms to perform financial analysis of privately held companies. He is currently a guest columnist for Forbes and Inc.com. Brian also oversees Inmates to Entrepreneurs, a community outreach program focused on teaching ex-offenders to start low-capital businesses.