Taxes, Regulations Causing Business Uncertainty This Labor Day
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Uncertainty over taxes and regulations is stalling a strong economic recovery and a faster pace of job growth, U.S. Chamber officials said during an annual Labor Day briefing.
The Chamber’s Randy Johnson (right) and Marty Regalia give an overview of the economy and upcoming labor agenda during the Chamber’s annual Labor Day briefing on Sept. 2.
Chamber Chief Economist Marty Regalia said that Congress should extend the tax cuts adopted during the Bush administration to calm jittery businesses. “The most important thing Washington can do for the economy is to take action immediately to prevent massive tax increases on America’s consumers and businesses,” he told a room full of reporters at the September 2 briefing. The Obama administration supports allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for families with incomes over $250,000 or individuals with incomes over $200,000 at the end of this year.
Regalia predicted that in order to get the economy back on track in five years, employers need to create nearly a quarter of a million jobs every month. “We're not anywhere near that,” he said. Just 90,000 to 95,000 jobs were created per month during the first half of the year. “Every month that you go 95,000 when you’re supposed to go 240,000 means that you’ve got to make up that shortfall and grow even faster in the out years,” Regalia said.
Existing and potential labor regulations are also making businesses skittish about hiring. “I have never seen a more burdensome [labor] agenda for employers,” said Chamber Senior Vice President Randy Johnson. “Employers are saying, wow—if I hire a worker, who knows what I will be exposed to in terms of liability. Providing certainty for employers will go a long way toward restoring our economy and creating jobs for the American people.”
Employer mandates included in the health care bill, legislation to make it difficult for employers to justify legitimate pay differences, rules on the hiring of workers from abroad, and the continuing threat of card check legislation are all part of the labor and immigration policy landscape bearing down on employers, Johnson said.
Despite the difficult economic environment, employers are doing right by their workers, Johnson added. In 2008, the last year of available data, 176.3 million Americans received employment based health insurance. In addition, private employers spent $205.7 billion on retirement income benefits.