2017 D.C. Fly In

Kent OylerLast week, I had the honor of leading 35 business leaders on GLI’s annual D.C. Fly-In. For those of us who don’t visit or work in Washington on a regular basis, this trip was an eye-opener, and for me, a positive one.

We met with Indiana and Kentucky’s senators, six members of Congress, the U.S. Chamber, the White House political and workforce staff and senior staff at the Department of Transportation. We were fortunate to be there as Sen. Mitch McConnell unveiled the new health care proposal and some of our group even ran into Ivanka Trump and U2’s Bono.

Despite the speed of the daily news cycle, the wheels of government continue to turn. When you get up close, some important facets are evident: Competent adults are running both sides of Congress and collegial relationships continue to be the norm in governing. Grandstanding, loud protests, innuendo and ugly sound bites seem from afar to define Washington.

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However, they are not the true show. Thousands of very smart and dedicated people in Congress, the White House and multiple government agencies are still doing their jobs and doing them well.

President Donald Trump is engaged. Several elected officials we met with pointed out how many calls and invitations they had received personally from the president. While the president’s public persona is perplexing to many, privately he is working closely with members of Congress.

Business issues such as workforce, taxes and trade are top of minds for our elected officials. While health care reform is the headline today, other game-changing legislation like the Choice Bill, which reforms Dodd-Frank, have advanced through the House and into the Senate.

The people we met with in Congress and the White House understand that developing a skilled workforce (a top priority for GLI) is vital to bolstering the economy. They are working on real plans to reform existing programs and bring forth new ones that will strengthen the country’s workforce.

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Federal tax reform is a priority for the administration. Many people we spoke with expressed optimism that some form of it will pass this year. With tax reform also a top initiative in Kentucky, major changes to the tax code appear imminent and I’m grateful that GLI has a seat at the table both on the state and federal levels.

The bottom line for me after our D.C. Fly-In was a renewal of hope. I came away realistically optimistic in the chance for improvements for both business and citizens. In Washington, checks, balances and competent people remain and they are working to move the nation forward. I’m told that everything isn’t always how it appears in politics. Perhaps, but I’m betting on the best outcomes with the system we have in place.

-Kent Oyler, President & CEO of Greater Louisville Inc. 

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