Although policy and politics never seem to take a break in Washington—think the ongoing debate over additional Russia sanctions, the first Federal Reserve interest rate increase in three years, and Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings to name just a few—the conclusions of the Democrat and Republican Congressional issues’ retreats and the upcoming release of the President’s budget offer something of a spring reset before Congress begins its sprint to the month-long August recess and mid-term election campaign. The reset is akin to the symbolism of rebirth associated with the cherry blossom, which reached peak bloom in Washington earlier this week.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to present to the latest group of Sumitomo-sponsored Tomodachi scholars. Although this year’s presentation had to be virtual, in year’s past this group of students has visited Washington, touring such iconic landmarks as the White House, the Capitol complex, and the Pentagon, where each was presented with a Challenge Coin by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter himself. It was refreshing to be in front of such a curious, idealistic group again being challenged and questioned on a range of public policy issues. In brief, their questions revolved around the difficulty in passing legislation, the purpose of lobbying, and the role of consultants; with the brief answers being legislation is difficult to pass by design; lobbying is largely education; and even lobbyists need to build their networks continually…
I’ve never been to war, but that doesn’t mean that parts of my life haven’t been shaped by it. My mother’s side of the family, the Italian side, immigrated to the U.S. as a matter of life and death at the outset of World War II. A first cousin, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to his tours of duty in Vietnam, eventually took his own life. And my own connection to veterans stationed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center led me to co-found a non-profit to support those American service men and women wounded or injured in support of the global war on terrorism. While the remainder of this blog concentrates on some of the economic and policy issues associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, we, as a company, should not lose focus that there is a very real human component to war that should not be forgotten.