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Tom Donohue: It’s Time for President, Congress to Get Down to Business

By Tom Donohue |

We can no longer use the excuse of an upcoming election to kick the can down the road on the immediate economic and fiscal challenges facing the country. President Barack Obama and the outgoing Congress must work immediately — this year — to prevent the fiscal cliff and lay the groundwork for a Big Deal to restore our nation’s long-term fiscal balance and boost American energy production.

The closer we get to the end of the year with no deal, the more uncertainty we will see on the part of job creators and consumers. The potential for upheaval in the stock and financial markets will grow. And if Congress fails to act, our fragile recovery will be derailed and America could cede its mantle as the world’s largest and most dynamic economy.

The stakes could not be higher or the need for action more urgent.

A lame-duck session of Congress convenes this week with a total of 16 legislative working days for the remainder of the year. Lawmakers must act to prevent the nation from going off the fiscal cliff on Jan. 1, when the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and other important tax provisions expire and $1.2 trillion in indiscriminate spending cuts take effect. Congress must extend the tax provisions and identify reasonable spending cuts that will not adversely impact national defense or cost jobs. Otherwise, the economy will dip back into recession, and unemployment will spike to 9 percent.

Then, the really hard work begins. Lawmakers and the administration must strive for an agreement on a framework for a Big Deal that reforms the tax code, tackles deficit spending, restructures entitlements and embraces revenue-raising opportunities, such as increased domestic energy development.

When Congress closed up shop before the election, lawmakers also left dangling a host of important measures that could help boost our recovery. During the lame duck, they must work to bring some of them over the finish line, including passage of Russia PNTR, approval of the Law of the Sea Treaty, regulatory reform, cybersecurity legislation and a high-skilled immigration bill.

Political gridlock is a luxury this nation can no longer afford. We face tremendous challenges. The longer we delay, the more painful the solutions will be.

The business community stands ready to work with the president and Congress to bolster economic growth, create jobs and achieve a Big Deal to restore our nation’s fiscal balance. It’s time to get down to business.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.




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» on 11.13.12 @ 08:54 PM

While agreeing with the premise that Donahue posits re/getting to work, Obama and the Democrats cannot forget that under his (Donohue’s)leadership the U.S.Chamber of Commerce spent over $100 million on attack adds and anti Obama agitation. Oh sure , lets just kiss and make up and pretend that all your mud was never slung. Compromise maybe- forgive and forget- never!

» on 11.14.12 @ 05:05 PM

High-skilled immigration should be addressed, but given the lackluster provisions for anything other than broadening (and cheapening) the labor pool, what’s been proposed thus far may lead to as many layoffs and workers on unemployment as it does new taxpayers.  As a nation, we’ve tacitly allowed our schools to drop out of the top 30 nations while never blinking an eye at our higher ed becoming the training grounds of the world.  It’s been done under the guise of labor shortages and stopgaps while we right the ship, yet nearly a quarter century into the H-1b such fields are less attractive to our students than they were at its inception.  We’ve been constantly told how we need foreign talent for these fields when what we really need is interest in them.  Perhaps some comes from outside our borders but that’s one option, not the fix.

As to domestic “energy”, I fear you mean drilling.  We’ve been postponing a permanent alternative since the 70’s, if not before.  Aside from oil companies, who else is benefitting?  The airline industry, shipping industry or even consumer who will still pay a price driven largely by the world market regardless of how many billions of barrels we pump?

» on 11.15.12 @ 11:51 AM

When you regulate the snot out of a business and squeeze its profit margin then it is forced to either “cheapen” the labor pool or find a country with a cheap one already. I am not saying the regulations are bad, just misapplied, usually punitively rather than in a constructive way. Thus you have these ridiculous trade laws that actually make the matter worse by allowing foreign companies with less harsh regulations to compete. Who want to produce in such an environment? Where is the incentive?

As for energy, the permanent alternative is geothermal. It offers the largest reserves on the planet, swamping all others by orders of magnitude, but it is hard to reach and we need much better drilling technology to make it happen, both cheaply and abundantly. Now guess what? Hydrocarbon mining is where that drilling technology is being developed. The more we encourage deep hydrocarbon mining the better our technology gets. Further and this is the important thing, it keeps energy cheap and abundant as we transition from hydrocarbon mining to a geothermal paradigm.

I cannot stress enough the importance of cheap energy. To the wealthy, upper middle class who have gobs of disposable income, energy pricing is not a major factor, but to the middle class and poor it makes up a substantial portion of the household budget. Cheap energy has done more to raise the living standard of the poor than any other commodity. It made food, shelter and clothing cheaper and gave the poor something they never had before, mobility. All of these disappear under the AGW paradigm of enormously costly energy and extreme conservation.

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