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TheStreet Open House

Here's How to Survive D.C. Dysfunction

By Lewis J. Walker

NEW YORK ( AdviceIQ) -- What can you do if you can't trust our national leaders to make good forward-looking decisions and keep the government running properly? Do everything in your power to achieve financial independence.

The feckless politicians playing the game of "kicking the can down the road" say to themselves: Why make tough decisions today when you can procrastinate, obfuscate, torpedo your opponents and hope that the problem will go away -- and that later someone else will make the decision? That's what Washington did in the deal it struck Oct. 16, which postpones the problem until next year, when we may have to live through the mess again.

For the nation that supports the world's reserve currency, operating without a budget and avoiding age wave implications relative to entitlement spending is a dangerous game that affects your future well-being.

The buying power of the dollar that you will spend tomorrow, the interest rates you get on certificates of deposit and bonds, the value of your stocks and the dividends corporations pay and the money you can count on from taxpayer-funded benefits -- all these hinge on prudent government policies. The immediate future does not appear confidence-affirming.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution interviewed two corporate chief executives on the recent government shutdown. Their comments prompt sober reflection. Marty Flanagan, head of investment giant Invesco (IVZ), emphasizes the need for pro-growth business policies that encourage hiring, capital investments and strategic mergers and acquisitions that would boost employment, growth and equity returns. Hope springs eternal.

Flanagan noted that Invesco got retail clients' calls during the government shutdown asking to convert accounts to cash. He emphasized that the number of calls was not great, but even a small number was "not healthy." People "need to have the confidence to invest for the long term." Key word: confidence.

Marty Richenhagen is CEO of AGCO (AGCO), the world's third-largest farm equipment manufacturer. With factories in North and South America, Europe and Asia, Richenhagen has trouble explaining U.S. budget and debt policies to business and political leaders around the globe. Sadly, he noted, U.S. citizens "seem to be less proud to be Americans than they have been, maybe, 10 years ago. They're uncertain. They struggle. Many people I know have financial issues. Life is not as easy in America as it has been."

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