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AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson's Letter to the White House on the 2014 BRT Growth Agenda

January 15, 2014
The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
America’s business leaders believe that there is no greater domestic priority for Congress and the Administration than getting our economy growing faster. Business Roundtable would like to share with you our 2014 growth agenda “Invested in America.” If we want to control the deficit, preserve key entitlement programs, educate our children, grow jobs, and offer upward economic mobility for everyone, we have to return the U.S. economy to its full growth potential.
Economic growth does not happen absent private sector investment. Where there is investment, be it in a new factory or distribution facility, a new store about to open, or new software being installed, there are jobs created. Despite the recent gains we are seeing, the U.S. economy continues to experience sub-par growth, due, in part, to private-sector capital investment as a percentage of our economy being at post-World War II lows.
A growth agenda designed to drive investment into the United States has four basic elements.
  • Fiscal Stability: We have spent the past few years stumbling from one fiscal crisis to the next. As a result, businesses large and small find themselves with no ability to plan beyond a single quarter; it’s not an environment conducive to investment. That’s one of the reasons the two-year Murray-Ryan budget deal approved last month – while not perfect – is a breath of fresh air. It offers some predictability for businesses to invest over a longer planning horizon. It also provides some breathing room for Congress and the Administration to now tackle the other three urgent priorities to get our economy growing faster – tax reform, expanded trade and immigration reform.
  • Tax Reform: Congress should enact comprehensive tax reform for all businesses – large and small – with competitive tax rates and a modern system of taxation for overseas earnings. Tax reform also means removing barriers to bringing overseas earnings back to the United States. Research shows that a one-percentage-point decrease in the average corporate tax rate would result in an increase in real U.S. GDP of between 0.4 to 0.6 percent within one year.
  • Expanded Trade: Congress should enact Trade Promotion Authority legislation to strengthen the hand of U.S. negotiators and help complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and Trade in Services Agreement, as well as future U.S. trade agreements. Today, we need to ensure that consumers, workers and businesses can all benefit from opening more foreign markets in Asia and Europe for U.S. goods and services.
  • Immigration Reform: America’s unique competitive advantage has always been its ability to attract the best talent. Congress should fix the broken immigration system to create a larger pool of visas for higher-skilled workers, enact a new visa system for lower-skilled workers, offer a path forward for undocumented workers already living in the United States, and allocate greater resources to strengthen enforcement and secure our borders. Done right, reform can increase our economic growth rate, reduce our deficit, and contribute significantly to America’s future.
​Economic growth isn’t a Blue State/Red State issue – it’s an American issue. The 208 chief executive officers who are members of the Business Roundtable believe it is important to act swiftly on the important success of the December budget agreement – which helped promote much-needed fiscal stability – and act on the three other growth priorities outlined above. It’s within our power to create the investment, the jobs and the opportunities our country needs. Attached please find a copy of “Invested in America.”
We stand ready to help in any way possible.
Randall Stephenson
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T Inc.
Chairman, Business Roundtable