5 Ways Washington Can Help Workers This Labor Day
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Labor Day is not only the last unofficial day of summer; It presents an opportunity to assess the state of the American workforce. Sadly, it’s not in good shape. The unemployment rate is too high, millions of people are either out of work or underemployed, and the economic recovery is tepid. Many of us know people who have been struggling to find a job but to no avail. We know that this isn’t right; we don’t accept this “New Normal.”
In an op-ed appearing in local newspapers across the nation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President for Government Affairs Bruce Josten outlines five recommendations for putting Americans back to work:
Avoid the Fiscal Cliff, Extend Tax Rates, and Reform the Tax Code
If Congress allows the tax provisions of 2001 and 2003 to expire and the blunt cuts of sequestration to take effect in 2013, things could get a lot worse for workers and businesses. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently echoed the warnings of leading economists that if the fiscal cliff is not averted, a new American recession is imminent.
[O]ur antiquated tax code must be reformed to lower rates for individuals and corporations while broadening the overall tax base.
Protect Intellectual Property, Educate Our Workforce, and Welcome Immigrants
To create jobs and keep America's economy humming, it is imperative that we advance our competitive edge. We can't allow our ideas, innovations and jobs to be stolen by foreign rogue websites. Nor can we allow our workforce to fall behind. A competitive workforce requires major improvements to our public K-12 education system and high-skilled visa reform to ensure that foreign nationals educated in America put their skills to work in our economy.
Expand Trade, Investment, and Tourism
America should expand global commerce through trade, investment and tourism. Ninety-five percent of the world's customers live outside the United States. We'll lose access to lucrative global markets - and sales and jobs - without a bold, forward-looking trade agenda.
Congress must approve Permanent Normal Trade Relations for Russia - an instant jobs bill that would significantly improve U.S. access to the world's ninth largest market. Completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership would greatly expand America's presence in the fastest-growing region in the world.
Produce American Energy and Rebuild Our Infrastructure
[L]et's remove barriers to our vast domestic resources and strengthen our supply through key energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone XL pipeline.
At the same time, we must modernize our overall infrastructure system and knock down roadblocks to $250 billion in private capital.
Enact Regulatory and Legal Reform
If businesses are to thrive and hire, we've got to modernize a regulatory system that is currently suffocating business expansion and stifling job creation. Likewise, we've got to rid our legal system of lawsuit abuse that undermines job creation.
If Washington acts on these policy areas, businesses of all sizes and types will have more certainty about the future and be more willing to invest and create jobs. These ideas will enable us to shed our collective angst and move down the path of greater prosperity.