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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 2:46 am | Fair 45º


Tom Donohue: How to Get the Economy Cooking Again

Come November, we need to elect leaders who will put jobs and growth first

Does falling unemployment, a rising stock market and greater consumer confidence mean that the economy has finally turned the corner? While the news is welcome, we’re still stuck in the weakest, slowest recovery since the Great Depression. We’re still down about 6 million jobs since the recession ended. And there are still a number of factors beyond our immediate control, such as rapidly rising gas prices or a default in Europe, that could derail our fragile recovery.

The fact is that we need a growth rate substantially higher than 2 percent to 2.5 percent to create the 20 million jobs we’ll need in this decade. We can and must do better. How do we do it?

First, let’s stop shooting ourselves in the foot. Let’s turn off the regulatory fire hose that has drowned businesses large and small in an ocean of new, complex and burdensome regulations. This tsunami of new rules and mandates has created massive uncertainty among businesses and has crippled investment and hiring.

Second, let’s get our fiscal house in order. In four years, the president and Congress will have added a staggering $5 trillion to the national debt — and with deficits as far as the eye can see.

Unsustainable entitlement programs are driving these deficits and must be reformed. Those arguing for the status quo on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are consigning these programs — and the country — to bankruptcy.

Third, let’s not forget what made the American economy the strongest in the world in the first place — well-educated workers, a bold trade agenda, a world-class infrastructure system, and an affordable and abundant supply of energy. We need to turn around our failing K-12 schools, open new markets to American goods and services, make adequate investments in our infrastructure, and dramatically increase production of American energy. And we need a tax code that broadens the base, lowers rates for individuals and corporations and simplifies compliance.

We can grow our economy faster and stronger if we make the right choices, remove impediments and uncertainties, and face up to tough fiscal truths that have been ignored for too long.

How are we going to create the political will, pressure and courage to make all this happen? By making our voices heard, engaging on policy and voting in elections.

One of America’s greatest strengths is that citizens get to choose their leaders. So when November comes, let’s choose those who promise to put jobs and growth first and who will really get our economy cooking again.

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

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