It seems like everyone in Washington has a jobs plan these days. While the focus is welcome, the talk must translate into meaningful action. The 25 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or have stopped looking for work want to hear specific ideas that will jump-start job creation — and they want to see Congress act on them.
» Expand trade and global commerce: Pass the three pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to save 380,000 jobs and add hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Completing export control forms, spurring exports to Europe and Asia, and protecting intellectual property through patent reform and shutting down rogue websites would create thousands of additional jobs.
» Produce more American energy: Open offshore resources in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska and create 244,700 new jobs. Expand access to federal lands for oil and gas exploration and add 530,000 new jobs. Approve the Keystone XL project, which would support 250,000 energy jobs.
» Speed up infrastructure projects: Pass a multiyear highway bill, FAA reauthorization bill and a water bill so states and communities can plan projects, hire employees and prevent layoffs. Implement the Energy Savings Performance Contracts Program and create 35,000 jobs a year. Remove regulatory and permitting obstacles to 351 stalled energy projects and create 1.9 million jobs annually. Unlock $250 billion in global private capital for infrastructure projects here at home and create even more jobs.
» Welcome tourists and business travelers to America: Create 1.3 million jobs by restoring the U.S. share of the travel market to 2000 levels by promoting tourism, expanding the visa waiver program and reforming the visa application process without compromising security.
» Streamline permits and provide regulatory certainty: Take up to $1 trillion in accumulated private capital off the sidelines and into business expansion by eliminating uncertainty caused by burdensome regulations. Expedite the permitting process to get job-creating projects moving.
» Pass pro-growth tax incentives: Implement a repatriation holiday and generate up to 2.9 million jobs in two years, and temporarily reduce the capital gains tax rate to free up cash for hiring.
Timely action on these and other ideas could spur economic activity and create American jobs — without adding to the deficit. Now that Congress and the president are back in Washington, they must get to work so that 25 million Americans can find work.
— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.