National Press Club

Fiorina: Bureaucracy chokes life out of entrepreneurs, economy

July 1, 2013 | By Monica Coleman | monicacolemanjd@gmail.com

Carly Fiorina, chief executive of Good360 and former chairman of Hewlett Packard, said that Washington regulations hamper entrepreneurs at a July 1 National Press Club luncheon.

Carly Fiorina, chief executive of Good360 and former chairman of Hewlett Packard, said that Washington regulations hamper entrepreneurs at a July 1 National Press Club luncheon.

Photo/Image: Marshall H. Cohen

Rules and regulations emanating from Washington are choking America's potential entrepreneurs, Carly Fiorina, former chairman of Hewlett Packard, said at a July 1 National Press Club luncheon.

Fiorina pointed to "alarming" small business statistics that show there are more new and small businesses failing and fewer starting than at any time in the last 40 years.

“This depressed state of entrepreneurism, I believe, is why our economy is underperforming,” Fiorina said, noting that the U.S. economy is growing only 1.7%-2.5% annually.

Fiorina, chief executive of Good360, said federal mandates hamper innovators and entrepreneurs who are busy building their companies and don’t have the time or resources to navigate regulatory complexity.

“The U.S. tax code is tens of thousands of pages long and way too complicated for any entrepreneur to wade through,” Fiorina said. “It is a bipartisan comment to say that our regulatory environment has become so complex.”

She asserted that there are innumerable laws added every year, but rarely, if ever, is one repealed.

“Bureaucracy, whether business or political, is a rule-based, tradition-bound institution that seeks to preserve itself and over time rewards playing by the rules rather than rewarding judgment and initiative,” Fiorina said. “Entrepreneurs and innovators are disruptive to the bureaucratic order.”

But only large corporations have the ability to handle Washington's rules and regulations.

“Washington [bureaucracy] works well for big businesses who can afford the legion of attorneys, accountants and lobbyists,” Fiorina said. “If you represent a large constituent base it works, as you have the time and resources to wade through the complexity.”

Politicians who create the bureaucracy can also benefit from it by helping businesses clear the rules thicket.

Fiorina, who has created several new businesses and has been ranked as a top corporate leader for six consecutive years by Forbes, said entrepreneurship and innovation must be fostered because they are fundamental to the American Dream.

In fact, the founding of the United States in 1776 was an entrepreneurial effort itself.

“Entrepreneurism and innovation are the secret sauce that makes [the United States] a special place,” Fiorina said.

Although Fiorina expressed serious concern about the state of entrepreneurship and innovation, she also acknowledged that the United States provides entrepreneurs and small businesses opportunities that are not available elsewhere.

“What makes this country great? I have traveled all over the world and it is true still to this day [that] it is only in the United States of America that a young women typing and filing in a nine person office can become the CEO of one of the largest companies on earth,” Fiornia said, alluding to her own background. “It is only possible in the United States.”