JP Morgan CEO, Jamie Dimon, is not happy with politicians in Washington, D.C. Speaking Friday, he lamented the political failure to boost America's attractiveness for doing business.
"It's almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to this stupid shit we have to deal with in this country," he said. The U.S., Dimon went on, has become "one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet."
Dimon is right. The U.S. has lost its sense of political purpose.
Where the nation's politicians once put consensus and the common good before narrow partisanship, today, too many play to ever-narrowing bases of support. The sense of national responsibility has abandoned Congress.
Just look at what happened on Thursday, when the House of Representatives blocked a Pentagon request that would have allowed it to close unnecessary bases. The House decided that the military should serve as a jobs program rather than a war-fighting power. Or when, on Friday, the House passed a defense bill that does nothing but serve the Defense Department's bureaucracy.
Still, what's most tragic about the malaise of Washington politics is the active stupidity it entails. It would be one thing, for example, if Congress didn't do anything. But most of the time, Congress is actively making it harder for Americans to get ahead.
On healthcare, Republicans are so screwed up that they cannot even form a consensus to get rid of Obamacare. Yes, Obamacare. That which has driven up premiums, killed jobs, and reduced access to quality care. That which they have complained about constantly since 2009.
On tax reform, we know what needs to be done: simplification. The current tax code is so long no one actually knows how many words it has. But we do know the figure is in the millions. That's a very expensive joke. Every dollar we spend on tax lawyers and accountants is a dollar that cannot produce anything worthwhile. Yet instead of pushing for bold reforms to eliminate loopholes, deductions, and waste in return for lowered tax rates, Congress seems set to make easy choices. They wallow in stupidity while most of the world is cutting corporate taxes and attracting the world's wealth.
At the same time, White House budget director, Mike Mulvaney has said it doesn't really matter if tax reform blows up the deficit. The message to younger Americans: get lost.
Even then, business leaders like Dimon would probably settle for basic reforms such as reduced regulation and efforts to stop wasteful, expensive litigation. But while President Trump has made some positive steps in this direction, a massive effort towards deregulation is nowhere on the horizon. And be under no illusions, regulations cost the lowest-paid workers the most in terms of both income and opportunity.
In the end, this is basic stuff. Basic, at least, to business leaders who know that if they don't manage their companies effectively they will go out of business.
In Washington, however, "stupid shit" remains the rule of the age.