Here is how tonight’s Democratic debate should begin:
The American economy has always been driven by entrepreneurial energy — the creation and growth of new businesses. Today, however, entrepreneurship in the United States is in trouble. Business creation has stalled; overall economic dynamism is faltering. We are experiencing what some researchers call a “startup deficit.”
How would your administration address this?
Most of the seven debate participants would be speechless, at least momentarily, before quickly running through a litany of actions they would take — some of which are tangential to entrepreneurship. A few of them would talk about the virtues of small business before bashing the evils of big business. A few might actually say the word “entrepreneurship.” At least a couple of them would be able to talk coherently about how they would tackle the startup deficit.
In all likelihood, of course, this question won’t be asked and entrepreneurship will barely be mentioned. More attention will be paid to the labor issues that almost derailed the debate. Yes: unions and the minimum wage should be topics of discussion. But, without the businesses to employ union workers and pay higher wages, those issues are moot.