In Uncertain Times, An Agenda for Growth and Jobs

Jan 12, 2012

With America facing a still sluggish economy and great uncertainty, Washington lawmakers must not take the election year off but, rather, get busy working with business to achieve everyone’s highest priority—putting Americans back to work, said U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue during his annual State of American Business address.

“As we begin 2012, we can say that the state of American business is improving—but it is doing so weakly, slowly, and insufficiently to put our nation back to work,” Donohue said at the January 12 event.

While the most recent jobs numbers have been positive—unemployment has inched down to 8.5% —there are still more than 23 million Americans who are either unemployed, working part time, or who have given up looking for jobs.

To put Americans back to work, the U.S. economy must grow much faster than it currently is. However, Donohue predicted that the economy may actually slow down in the early months of the year. “We expect growth to average about 2.5% in the first half and then work its way back to about 3% by the end of the year.”

Donohue outlined the Chamber’s 2012 policy agenda to expand the economy, create jobs, and boost America’s competitiveness in the global economy:

Produce American Energy and Rebuild Infrastructure. Approve the Keystone XL pipeline to put up to 250,000 Americans to work over the life of the project while preventing the EPA from enacting new regulations on fracking that sabotage a natural gas revolution. Complete Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, which is more than four years delayed, to strengthen our aviation system and deploy the NextGen air traffic control system. Renew surface transportation funding legislation before it expires in March and invest in water infrastructure.

Expand Trade, Investment, and Tourism. Renew Trade Promotion Authority for the president to expedite a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement with eight of the United States’ best commercial partners in the booming Asia-Pacific region. Grant permanent normal trade relations with Russia and move on trade deals with Brazil, Egypt, and India. Advance bilateral investment treaties and expand visa-waiver programs to restore America’s share of the international travel market to 2001 levels, creating 1.3 million new jobs in the process.

Advance Regulatory and Legal Reform. Pass the Administrative Procedure Act to restore sound science, quality data, and common sense to the regulatory system while curbing regulatory overreach by EPA and the National Labor Relations Board. Stop the expansion of liability at home and abroad that is sucking the vitality out of our nation’s job creators.

Develop an Innovation Agenda. Protect America’s intellectual property-related industries and its 19 million workers by passing legislation to cut off rogue websites from the U.S. marketplace. Reform our failing schools, enact a globally competitive tax system, and fix our broken immigration system.

Control Spending and Reform Entitlements. Make reasonable, phased-in changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in order to save these programs and keep our commitment to the sick and elderly for generations to come.

Government policies and conflicts among political leaders have created significant uncertainty—undermining business and consumer confidence, slowing down the economy, and putting the brakes on new hiring, Donohue said. He pointed to a recent Chamber survey of small business members in which more than 80% said they are very concerned about the prospect of new regulations, mandates, and higher taxes.

But the real roadblock to stronger economic growth, more jobs, and better opportunities for all Americans is a lack of leadership, according to Donohue. “What we can plainly see is an urgent need for leaders in every sector and at every level who are dedicated to meeting the country’s challenges, solving problems, and helping America achieve her full potential,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the business community, Donohue said,

We’re ready to invest, eager to compete, and want to hire. In many instances, despite all the uncertainties, impediments, and risks, our companies and entrepreneurs are forging ahead. Business is leading the way. If government starts removing the impediments that we have long identified as stifling growth and jobs, then it will be incumbent on business to start taking a few more risks and making some new investments.

The full text of Donohue's speech can be found here.

Subscribe for Updates

Email:
First Name:
Last Name:
Frequency
 Daily   Weekly

Trending Now

This Infographic Shows What Atypical Jobs Pay College Grads Well and What Cities are Affordable

1,519 views

Citing Economic Benefits, Report Ranks U.S. Cities by Walkability

1,458 views

Drawing on her Mexican Heritage, Chef Fany Gerson Presides Over a Growing New York City Dessert Empire

1,161 views
The Challenge Cup: Follow the Global Tournament

Join the Discussion