Arianna Huffington, one of the original founders of The Huffington Post and current president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, told Mashable on Wednesday that politicians aren’t doing enough to help entrepreneurs.
As more people of all ages decide to strike off on their own and start a company, lawmakers have taken some steps to support them.
The Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, for example, was signed into law by President Obama in April with the backing of such high-profile entrepreneurs as AOL founder Steve Case. Silicon Valley has become a hotspot for lawmakers around the country to come and discuss the importance of startups to the economy as a whole. And Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), himself an entrepreneur, made it a point to highlight that fact in his opening lines of a speech delivered Tuesday evening to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, a sign that he, at least, considers it a badge of honor.
For Huffington, who Mashable interviewed following a discussion about America’s job crisis, those efforts a good start, but it’s not enough.
“I think they can be talking about [entrepreneurship],” Huffington said when asked what she believes politicians can do to further support entrepreneurs.
“Politicians talk about it very little,” she added. “We look at all these great people on the panel, America doesn’t know about them and yet they’re really significant in helping young entrepreneurs — and when I say young I don’t just mean age-wise, but new entrepreneurs. And I think politicians have the megaphone. Even if they can’t help in other ways through grants or tax credits or policy, they can help by using their megaphone, which is also what we in the media can do.”
Rep. Polis, who responded to Mashable via email, generally agreed that politicians can be doing more for entrepreneurs. Lawmakers can use “the bully pulpit to encourage people to create their own job as a viable alternative to being hired by someone else,” he said.
“Also, our Workforce Investment Act programs should help provide entrepreneurship training and also through [the U.S. Small Business Adminsitration] we can help link would-be entrepreneurs with networks and resources,” added Polis.
Huffington’s belief was echoed by many of the other entrepreneurs who participated in the event.
Andrew Yang, CEO of Venture for America and panel participant stressed to Mashable that politicians should focus on finding ways to make sure people are educated with the skills they’ll need to be in demand in the startup economy or create a startup of their own.
“I’m of the mind [politicians] could always be doing more,” said Yang. “What I would want politicians to focus on is the human capital aspect, trying to find ways to incubate and cultivate the talent that has the potential to develop companies and create opportunities for others.”
Meanwhile, Allen Blue, the LinkedIn co-founder who was also on the panel, offered up to Mashable the theory that entrepreneurs by nature are the first to jump in the pool, while politicians and policymakers tend to wait longer before embracing a particular trend, such as entrepreneurship’s recent spike in popularity as a career field.
“The startup culture is going to become a gigantic part of the American picture,” said Blue. “I hate to say it but I feel like politics follows more than it leads. So it’s really hard for campaigns to talk about entrepreneurship as something they want to create. Entreprenuers go first, policy makers see that it’s effective and something they actually want to do. I’m glad policymakers are leaving the space open for entrepreneurs to do what they need to do.”
What do you want your politicians to do to promote entrepreneurism? Share your thoughts in the comments.