Can the New Congress Lift the Uncertainty?

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In recent days, the media has focused intensely on the wranglings in Washington as the lame-duck session of Congress deals with several key issues, predominantly the fate of the so-called Bush tax cuts. My guess is compromise will be reached and tax cuts for most, if not all, will be retained. No matter your view on the topic, resolution of this debate will be good news for the economy and, by extension, the hotel industry.

Many lodging industry leaders have been telling me in recent months the real issue holding up economic recovery is uncertainty, particularly when it comes to taxes, bureaucracy and the general direction of the country. The recent election and the imminent change in power in Congress should offer more clarity to corporations and entrepreneurs as they make plans and budgets for 2011. At least in theory, the new Republican-dominated Congress will provide comfort to businesspeople worried about additional taxes and regulations. And armed with this comfort, companies should start to hire again, which will be the only real solution to the economic funk in which we find ourselves.

Sadly, however, I think the business community won't react that quickly or rationally to the new Congress and its potential for stability. The foundations of our economy were rocked very hard in 2008 and last year, and I'm afraid it's going to take a while for widespread confidence to return. But I believe it will return, beginning slowly in 2011, and building over the next few years. And as a hotelier, that will be good news. More jobs mean more consumer confidence, which translates into more travel both for business and leisure.

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