U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Thomas J. Donohue is not known for mincing his words, so it’s no surprise to find some rather pointed suggestions in his recent letter to President Barack Obama and Congress concerning the urgent need to create new jobs: “Americans aren’t interested in empty promises or temporary, artificial government jobs that won’t last, but will add to the deficit. We’ve come up with a plan based on practical, private sector ideas that can be turned into action items to spur faster job growth immediately,” Donohue wrote.
“Our plan gives Congress and the president a good place to start — right away.”
The two most important words in Donohue’s comments are “right away.” Another 402,000 people filed new unemployment claims this week, as the economy continues to creak along with recession levels of joblessness, underemployment and mediocre growth. People are tired of hearing talk from the professional politicians in both parties, so the chamber put forth a laundry list of actions that can generate new jobs almost immediately.
The logical place to start is by expanding U.S. trade and commerce. Besides approving new free trade deals with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, which the president and Congress finally did earlier this month, the chamber recommends eliminating all barriers to trading goods with Europe. Further, Obama should ensure that the U.S. Trade Representative does everything possible to ensure successful completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks among the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, so a deal can be announced next month in Honolulu.
Next, the chamber points out that expanding U.S. energy production could generate up to 3 million new jobs. For example, giving the go-ahead to construction of the Keystone XL pipeline connecting Canadian oil fields to refineries in Texas would clear the way for creation of an estimated 250,000 jobs, while expanding access to federal lands for oil and natural-gas exploration and production would lead to more than 530,000 hires. Another 260,000 jobs would result from expanding natural-gas production from shale formations and opening up U.S. offshore areas to exploration and production. Finally, the chamber compiled a list of 351 energy projects stalled by excessive government red tape that have the potential to generate nearly 2 million new jobs.
Among the other measures recommended by the chamber to be taken right away are:
- Issuing an executive order prohibiting discretionary regulations with a substantial economic impact would give businesses certainty and help spur hiring.
- Taking up to $1 trillion in accumulated private capital off the sidelines and into business expansion by eliminating uncertainty caused by burdensome regulations.
- Implementing an overseas cash repatriation holiday could lead to 2.9 million jobs over two years.
- Creating a corporate capital gains tax window in order to free up capital for investment and job creation.