4. Political climate in Washington (7.5%)

Updated Jan 27, 2014

us-capitol-1The bipartisan rancor in Washington 
hit a low point in October when the government shut down over funding for the Affordable Care Act. The deal that ultimately got the government back up and running only lasted until Jan. 15.

It appears that the nation
has been spared the threat of
another shutdown with the
passage of a budget deal in
both houses of Congress 
that includes a spending 
plan for the next two years.
 That’s great news for trucking fleet executives, as well as
small business owners across the country, whose confidence was stymied during the 16-day shutdown in October.

But another potential crisis – the debt ceiling debate – still looms on the horizon. Feb. 7 is the date on which the deal struck by Republicans and Democrats to suspend the debt ceiling is set to expire. Whether both sides take up arms again or decide to call a cease-fire has yet to be determined, but the uncertainty and rhetoric leading up to the deadline certainly will make business owners looking to invest and expand more reluctant to do so – at least in the near term.

“[Washington leaders] haven’t been negotiating in good faith,” said Eric Starks, president of FTR, during his presentation at the 2013 CCJ Fall Symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz., in December. “It absolutely creates additional uncertainty. From a business perspective, all they want to know is if they can work within the framework to plant something in the stone and go from here.”