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Tom Donohue: Innovation Can Spur and Sustain Our Recovery

Reforming our K-12 school system and protecting intellectual property among the necessary steps

Innovation is what keeps our economy humming, our businesses hiring and our standard of living improving. With unemployment persistently high and economic growth sputtering, we need more innovation to spur and sustain our recovery.

America has always led the world in innovation because we are a nation of dreamers and doers, fueled by free enterprise. But we’re in a 21st century global race, competing for the world’s talent, customers, capital and ideas.

We must ignite an innovation boom to drive stronger growth into our economy, create jobs for our workers and keep America on the leading edge. How?

We must develop talent at home and attract the best and brightest from abroad. We can do that by truly reforming our K-12 school system, encouraging innovation in our colleges and universities, and drawing more students into science, technology, engineering and math. We must also modernize our visa rules and fix our broken immigration system so that the world’s innovators and entrepreneurs will contribute to the U.S. economy.

Inventors and entrepreneurs need access to healthy and vibrant capital markets to help breathe life into their ideas. Measures that strangle capital formation and choke off the flow of financing must be revised or repealed.

We must foster a business climate that encourages innovation. That requires a smarter regulatory system that removes unnecessary burdens and costs. Equally important is a rational, efficient and globally competitive tax system. We must restructure the tax code so that it’s simple and clear, spurs growth, encourages investment and innovation, and efficiently generates revenues to reduce the deficit and meet our national priorities.

Strong intellectual property protection is another key element to innovation. Inventers and entrepreneurs won’t produce groundbreaking products and services if the fruits of their creativity and investments aren’t protected under the law. We need to crack down on IP theft in both the physical and digital markets; fully fund enforcement; and insist on strong IP protections in all trade agreements.

Finally, innovators must be allowed to take reasonable risks and be rewarded for achievements. If we punish or demonize success, America will lose talent, capital, ideas and jobs to our economic competitors.

Our economic challenges are daunting, but the American spirit is indomitable. We reject complacency and crave advancement. We constantly strive to make life better. And when faced with an obstacle, we surmount it.

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

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