Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies working to promote a thriving economy and expanded opportunity for all Americans through sound public policy.
Russia will join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2012—after agreeing to open its market through tariff reductions and the removal of other trade barriers. Congress needs to pass Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) legislation to help U.S. exporters and workers compete for sales of their goods and services in Russia. Failure to pass PNTR would make it harder for them to compete.
We, the CEOs of Business Roundtable have a plan to revitalize U.S. economic growth and job creation. We believe that America’s business leaders have an obligation to bring their real-world experience on economic matters to public policy, especially in a time of widespread joblessness and economic distress. Job creation depends on economic growth, which cannot occur unless businesses are free to innovate, invest and grow. Taking Action for America is a comprehensive plan to jump-start new business investment and knock down barriers to economic growth.
In the late 1930s, when Social Security first started, roughly half of the U.S. population lived to be at least 67 years old. Today, more than 80 percent live to be at least 67, and half the population will reach the age of 82. As America continues to age, promoting prudent retirement saving and ensuring a fiscally sustainable Social Security safety net become ever more essential public policy goals.
Business Roundtable CEOs believe maintaining an affordable, innovative and efficient health care system is a critical factor to ensuring a better quality of life for all Americans and a more productive and competitive U.S. workforce. Although the United States is recognized as a leader in medical technology, research and quality of care, the costs of its health care system are quickly becoming unsustainable. Constituting almost 18 percent of GDP in 2010 and rising at more than twice the annual rate of inflation, soaring health care costs place a growing burden on family, business and government budgets.
Education attainment is the lynchpin of a productive and prosperous society. A young person who chooses not to finish high school makes a life-altering decision that limits his or her lifetime earnings and ability to succeed in today’s global economy. Dropping out of high school, as almost 7,000 U.S. students do daily according to the Alliance for Excellent Education, is the single biggest mistake a person could make.9 A high school diploma is not enough to meet the education requirements of the fastest growing new jobs, and continued employment and higher pay increases are more likely with additional education credentials.
Highly educated, foreign-born professionals have a long history of making great contributions to the United States. They drive economic growth, innovation and job creation. Immigrants are 30 percent more likely to form new businesses than U.S.-born citizens, and major U.S. employers, such as Intel, eBay, Yahoo! and Google, were all co-founded by immigrants. Among people with advanced degrees, immigrants are three times more likely to file patents than U.S.-born citizens, and for every high-skilled, temporary H-1B visa position requested, U.S. technology companies increase their employment by five workers.
With the spread of information and telecommunications technologies across the economy, the daily operations and long-term value of most economic enterprises in America now depend on the capabilities and security of their information systems. Moreover, the capacities and security of these systems have become critical elements of U.S. technological and economic leadership. As strategic economic assets, these systems must be protected. The government has a prominent role to play in this security realm.
America needs an energy policy that ensures access to low-cost, sustainable sources of energy and power, which is key to GDP growth and job creation. Affordable and reliable energy sources can protect the environment while increasing energy and economic security, which in turn will enhance national security. This is the bedrock of a growing and competitive economy.
Vibrant and open markets for international trade and investment are a necessary prerequisite for generating new economic growth and job creation opportunities for U.S. businesses and workers.
The U.S. corporate tax system has failed to keep pace with the changing global economy. The U.S. system is an outlier at a time when capital is more mobile and the world’s economies are more interconnected than ever before. Modern, streamlined and fiscally responsible tax policies contribute to a competitive business environment that attracts new investment and supports strong economic growth and job creation.
A nation’s regulatory system is one of the most telling indicators of its business environment. On the one hand, smart regulations that clarify the “rules of the road” and are in line with broad societal values over multiple election cycles can provide an environment of stability, inspire business confidence and accelerate investment. On the other hand, regulations that create uncertainty and reflect shortsighted political interests can impose unproductive cost burdens on businesses and consumers, undermine confidence, and delay investment. The key distinction, therefore, is not the quantity of regulations but the effectiveness and efficiency of regulations as well as the balance between their costs and intended benefits.
Long-term fiscal health is a tangible indicator of effective governance and an essential aspect of an attractive business environment. Nations that manage their fiscal and monetary affairs responsibly are rewarded by the marketplace with low borrowing costs and strong currencies. Conversely, a growing and unsustainable debt burden can undermine confidence, increase business uncertainty, disrupt financial markets and increase government borrowing costs. If not addressed, large debt burdens will have painful economic consequences, including high unemployment, chronically weak consumer confidence and a slowdown in investment.