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How Shutterfly’s CEO Deals with DC Uncertainty

Kevin Chupka
Executive Producer/Writer

There's a lot of uncertainty in corporate America today as questions abound about regulation and as the fiscal cliff approaches. It's easy, if not entirely accurate, to point a finger at Washington, DC, but pointing fingers doesn't help businesses make money. With that in mind Breakout welcomed Jeff Housenbold, CEO of Shutterfly, to offer his thoughts as a real live business leader.

Housenbold points to specific uncertainty involving the R&D tax credit, repatriation of foreign funds, and overly complex government regulations as issues that "stifle innovation and growth in America." With his company looking to hire somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 new employees in the coming months, it becomes even more important to know what the rules of the game actually are.

In general, Housenbold says the solution to the problem is cooperation between government and the private sector. "We have to stop demonizing American companies and CEO's," he says, "because I think we need to provide a social net for people. But giving them a job is more honorable than giving them a handout. Giving them a path to rising up."

Housenbold was given that path up. He cites a combination of "hard work, education, and luck" for getting him from a life of welfare and food stamps to one as the CEO of a company with a $1.12 billion market cap. That American dream has been living on the knife-edge for years, and Housenbold says elected officials worrying more about their constituents than re-election will bring us back from the brink.

So when will this return to civility happen? Housenbold, along with most Americans, hopes that once November's election is behind us those who are elected can begin focusing more on compromise. It's no surprise that the key issue for that compromise, at least for Housenbold, is job creation. "It creates a tax base so that we can do more things in helping out education, our health care, our foreign policy, but it all starts with putting Americans to work."

While the Shutterfly chief has a clear vision of what it would take to fix the country's fiscal problems and make life easier for those running a business, he still admits that anything is better than nothing. "It's the uncertainty that's holding back both American businessmen as well as Wall Street."

Will corporate America get more clarity after November's election, or are we in for more gridlock? Let us know on our Facebook page.