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The Exchange ft. Special Guest Steve Forbes

(Above: Yellowhammer News CEO Cliff Sims interviews Forbes Inc. CEO Steve Forbes)

Steve Forbes, two-time Republican presidential candidate, CEO of Forbes Inc. and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine, was in Auburn, Ala. Friday to be the keynote speaker at an event presented by the student group Auburn Conservatives for Tomorrow.

Before speaking to a large crowd in the Auburn Arena, Mr. Forbes sat down with Yellowhammer CEO Cliff Sims for the first ever episode of The Yellowhammer Exchange. In the months ahead, The Exchange will be a regular feature during which Yellowhammer will discuss current events and other topics with a state or national business leader or political figure, or notable Alabamian.

Is there someone you would like to see featured in The Exchange? Let us know HERE.

Here are some quick takeaways from this week’s sit-down with Steve Forbes:

— The economy under President Obama —

Forbes got right to the point when asked how the economy is doing five years into the Obama Administration. “Not very well,” he said.

However, he’s optimistic that 2014 will be the best year the country has seen in a while and feels like the economy is beginning to tick up. Forbes believes this is happening in spite of — not because of — the policies of the Obama Administration.

“It’s like a baseball hitter hitting around .180,” Forbes said of the economy in recent years. “Now we’re going to go to .250-.260, but we’re not hitting .350 as we should.”

Money quote:
This has been the worst recovery from a sharp downturn in American history. — Steve Forbes

— What’s holding us back? —

Forbes listed 5 main factors that he believes are slowing down the US economy and holding the country back from achieving the type of economic recovery we have experienced in the past.

1. ObamaCare
2. The Federal Reserve (Spoiler alert: he hates it) / Uncertainty about the dollar
3. Huge tax burden on job creators
4. Too much complexity in the tax code
5. “Crazy regulations coming out of the EPA” & other government agencies

Money quote:
We have the highest business taxes in the developed world. — Steve Forbes

— GOP Leadership in Washington, D.C. —

Forbes conceded that “a lot of effort has not worked out very well” when it comes to what Republicans have been doing in Washington recently, but said he sees a big opportunity on the horizon for the GOP. He expects Republicans to seize the majority in the senate this year, in part by offering a strong alternative to ObamaCare.

Money quote:
Republicans have come up with good alternatives to ObamaCare. So when the president says “They don’t have a replacement”… there [are] replacements out there — very positive things that put more power in the hands of patients. — Steve Forbes

— Slay the beast —

Forbes complimented Congressman Dave Camp, outgoing Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, for trying to reform the tax code, but quickly pointed out that his proposal was still incredibly long and difficult for anyone to completely comprehend.

“I give him credit for making an effort, but it tells you all you need to know about how bad the tax code is that his bill…runs 1,000 pages,” Forbes said. “1,000 pages simplifies the tax code?”

Money quote:
The best thing to do is just get rid of the monster. Kill it, bury it and hope it never rises again. — Steve Forbes

— The Forbes Tax Plan —

Mr. Forbes has been a proponent of a flat tax for decades, and ran on slightly different variations of it during his two presidential bids.

Here’s the plan he laid out for Yellowhammer:
1. Flat tax with a single rate of 17 percent
2. Exemptions for adults with children, but that’s it. For example, a family of four would pay no federal income tax on their first $46,000 each year.
3. No tax on savings
4. No death tax
Note: He believes serious tax reform will be a top-tier issue in the 2016 presidential race, with numerous candidates putting forward plans for “radical tax simplification.”

Money quote:
I’ve always believed you should be able to leave the world unmolested by the IRS. — Steve Forbes

— Putin Power —

Forbes Magazine named Russian President Vladimir Putin the most powerful person in the world in Oct. of 2013. Forbes said he believes recent geopolitical events have proven their assertion to be correct. However, Mr. Forbes says Putin has made a longterm error in judgement with the moves he is currently making. He believes America’s decision to seize the assets of Russian big-wigs and take away visas will “hit them in the gut.”

“These oligarchs have lived to feast on taking money and resources from the people of Russia and elsewhere,” Forbes said. “That’s why they love buying assets in Miami, in the French Riviera and elsewhere. You start taking those toys away and Vladimir Putin is going to be under a lot of pressure.”

Money quote:
Mr. Putin has underestimated the beehive that he’s punched his fist in. — Steve Forbes

— Next generation —

Ever the optimist, Mr. Forbes said he believes the United States will soon find itself in “a more hospitable environment” for jobs to be created and the economy to recover. His advice to the next generation of business leaders? Just do it.

Money quote:
Move forward. Don’t let circumstances get in the way… Don’t despair, go out and do it. — Steve Forbes

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