Like most Americans, I didn’t vote for President Trump. But while we have too many differences to enumerate, as a fellow entrepreneur, he shows a willingness to slaughter sacred cows formed by norms and traditions, likely thanks to his own lifelong experience as an entrepreneur and innovator.
In 2014, I met face-to-face with President Obama (along with other entrepreneurs) to share ideas about startup businesses and to offer suggestions on how government could be more innovative. If given a similar opportunity to advise President Trump, I’d give him these three outside-the-box BIG ideas to tackle during his time in office:
1) Free America from regulatory capture. The political right insists regulation stifles free enterprise and business innovation, while the political left says strong regulation is necessary to protect the public interest against overly aggressive capitalists -- and they are both right. Rather than neuter the acronym soup of “independent" agencies (FCC, OCC, FDIC, FHFA, SEC, EPA…) or install hostile heads to these organizations, the President could instead work to free them from special interests and lobbyists that “capture” these agencies by wrapping their tentacles around them like giant vampire squids.
Like any innovative plan, it can be difficult, nuanced, and tedious work, but he may find an ally in Senator Sanders, who has a front row seat in Washington to these corrupting influences. In fact, he could make Sanders a new Czar for Regulatory Agency Independence and then truly “Drain the Swamp!"
2) Create an “Energy Innovation 2030 Agenda.” Current trends suggest Chinese and U.S. economies will be matching twin towers over the rest of the world by mid-century. These giants could coexist peacefully by forming a cooperative alliance to develop a new, innovative, and free to low-cost sustainable energy source. Let Elon Musk and the private sector lead on other big initiatives like the attempt to reach Mars; the American people have already paid for the foundational science to make that imaginable. Instead, co-opt China’s emerging leadership in energy innovation to massively fund a joint R&D “moon shot” program to create breakthrough energy sources. Free energy would be transformative and would “Make America Great” for the next 100 generations.
3) Drastically reform the IRS and Household Tax Code. Raze the tax code and, in its wake, leave a simple Flat Income Tax (e.g., 10%), preserve only the home interest deduction, and create a Consumption Tax on everything except food and education. Every year, Congress can propose a budget that raises revenue based on those Flat Income and Consumption taxes. If society consumes less as a result of the Consumption Tax, we reduce the conveyer belt of manufacturing to landfill (often for low-cost products made overseas) and create the unintended benefit of a more eco-friendly economy.
Trump could take this tax code innovation a step further by giving the American taxpayer direct discretionary power over some portion of their income taxes (e.g., Citizen A could direct 1% of their taxed income to the Pentagon while Citizen B could direct 1% of their taxed income to the EPA). This way, people won’t get out of the citizen obligation of paying their fair share of taxes, but they can “vote their dollars” on which units of government they believe best serve their needs. At the same time, they cut middlemen (Congress) partially out of the equation. Power to the People!
I could suggest plenty more ideas, but since focus is critical for success of any entrepreneur/innovator, Trump should start with these big three and, if in four years he has the opportunity to serve again, I’ll suggest more.
- Brian Christie is CEO and Chief Innovation Officer of Washington, D.C.-based Brainsy Inc. His venture backed company powers online knowledge sharing networks including patented Expert Calling Networks (ECN).