While many lament that the world is in an era of slower economic growth, Steve Forbes sees brighter days ahead.
|Watch Forbes' Presenation|
These are self-inflicted wounds. There’s no reason why we should be stagnating. It’s because of policy errors, and the good news about errors is they can be corrected,” said Forbes, the chairman and editor-in-chief of Forbes Media and a respected thought leader who spoke at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Wednesday.
Forbes, a Republican presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000 and coauthor of Reviving America: How Repealing Obamacare, Replacing the Tax Code and Reforming the Fed Will Restore Hope and Prosperity, was the featured speaker during an event hosted by The LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic.
During his hour-long presentation Forbes touched on both politics and the economy, and he outlined four areas where he believes reform is coming that will help move the economy out of the “self-inflicted rut that we’ve been in for almost 15 years.”
The first area is taxation, said Forbes, who believes a flat tax should replace the complexities of the current tax code.
Regarding tax reforms now under discussion and expected to go before Congress, “they’ve got to go big and go bold,” he said. “If you get this economy vigorously growing, that solves a lot of problems.”
While he doesn’t believe a flat tax will pass during this round, he believes that it has a good chance of approval in the next few years.
He also warned against the border adjustment tax, a sales tax on imports that he believes could result in Americans paying higher prices for goods. “Putting in a new tax is a dangerous thing, even if they think it’s for a good purpose,” he said.
The second area where Forbes sees potential for reform is healthcare. He noted that while the growing demand for healthcare is considered a crisis, “growing demand for anything else is considered a great opportunity,” he said.
There are no true free markets in healthcare, he said. “It’s the way the system has evolved.”
Steve Forbes (left) responds to a question from former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux in the DeSantis Family Chapel at Palm Beach Atlantic University.
He expects there to be more transparency in hospital pricing and disclosure of infection rates, nationwide shopping for health insurance and patients having more choices with regard to their insurance policies.
The third area that is ripe for reform involves government regulations. Forbes said excessive regulations cost the American economy $2 trillion a year.
President-elect Donald Trump plans to start deregulating, starting with the Keystone XL Pipeline and instances where regulations are “crushing” small businesses, he said.
In addition, he said he expects Congress to begin the process of repealing certain regulations and making it more difficult for regulatory agencies to institute new rules without Congressional approval.
The final area where Forbes sees reforms coming is in monetary policy. He noted that money is not wealth. “Money measures wealth. Money measures value,” he said.
Money works best when it has a fixed value, said Forbes, who advocates a return to the gold standard.
“We did it for 180 years of our country’s existence,” he said. “What we achieved in that 180 years is the highest average rate of growth of any nation or state in history. If we’d maintained those growth rates the last four years that we did for 180 years through all that turmoil, our economy today would be 50 percent larger.”
He said the right reforms could set the nation on a course for success.
“If America gets in trouble, the rest of the world is in trouble. If America gets it right, the rest of the world has a chance to get it right,” Forbes said. “That is our faith and our opportunity.”
During the question-and-answer session with former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux that followed, Forbes was asked about the rhetoric about trade that was debated during the presidential campaign.
In terms of trade, there are abuses out there “but the remedies are already there” and just need to be enforced, Forbes said.
In response to a question about the challenges the president-elect faces as a businessman in Washington, Forbes offered this advice: “You want to understand the system, but you don’t want to go native.”
Prior to the public lecture, Forbes met with a small group of students as part of PBA’s President’s Lyceum.
One student wanted to know how, with instances of fake news on the rise, Forbes is able to ensure the truth and accuracy of the work of the 1,800 contributors to his publication.
Forbes said the temptation to gain website traffic can be great. But in addition to employing channel editors, he said that the readers themselves provide feedback very quickly, he said.
In the end, “you need a strong identity. You need a strong brand,” he said. “Trust is key.”
The LeMieux Center for Public Policy has announced that its next public event will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15. The guest speaker will be Mark Halperin, managing editor of Bloomberg Politics and host of Bloomberg TV's With All Due Respect.