President Obama today echoed what TechElect and the innovation sector have argued repeatedly: “It’s a lot easier to deal with deficits and debt if you are growing,” the President told reporters at a Friday morning news conference. He’s spot on. The key question is not whether to grow, but how to grow fastest and strongest.
TechElect believes that the way to build an economy that has lasting strength to create good-paying jobs is through a mix of approaches.
- Tax reform should be modernized in a fiscally responsible way to help American companies create jobs and new opportunities here at home. Right now, the U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. Lower the rate, invest in innovation, and make the U.S. tax system competitive with the rest of the globe. Uncertainty about the future of the tax code is freezing important investment and business decisions. We can make a downpayment toward increased certainty and a competitive tax code by passing bills to extend important investment and innovation incentives, like the R&D tax credit.
- Commit to education in science, technology, engineering, and math. These are the core skills that will create an American workforce that can compete to win with the rest of the world.
- Strengthen the U.S. focus on innovation. R&D isn’t an industry buzzword; it’s a formula for long-term economic strength. If we want the next generation of breakthrough discoveries to happen here, then our political leadership must help with incentives, from the university laboratory to the corporate research facilities. Competitive innovation incentives encourage robust job creation and promote investment here at home. Federal funding for vital basic research programs in institutions like the National Science Foundation will keep innovation engines at leading U.S. universities humming.
- Move forward with smart immigration reform. During the next five years, 100,000 immigrants – many with advanced degrees – will leave America and take their innovative ideas and job-creating potential with them. It makes zero sense for the United States to send these people home so they can turn around and compete with us in innovation and job creation. Let’s keep these people here, creating the next generation of breakthrough products in America.There are several bills to make important reforms in our immigration system, including the House and Senate bipartisan Startup Act 2.0., that will enable recruitment and retention of skilled foreign professionals, and encourage new business startups in the U.S.
- Expand trade and market access for American businesses. Exports from America create jobs in America. There’s no arguing the power of U.S. exporters to create jobs at home, whether they are a small mom-and-pop company to our biggest multinationals. We have to continue to press for open markets to move “Made in the USA” products from our shores to homes around the world. Congress can take an important step by passing legislation to normalize our trade relationship with Russia — an initiative that has been shown would lead to new jobs and market opportunities for U.S. businesses.
“People in this town should be focused on doing everything we can to keep our recovery going and keeping our country strong,” the President said. These ideas have bipartisan support. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have put forward tax reform plans. STEM education plans are championed by the President and leaders in both political parties. Innovation incentives have long had bipartisan champions. Trade programs and immigration reform only happen with support from both sides of the aisle. But the popular Washington expectation is that nothing substantial will happen this year because it’s an election year. “It’s too hard.” “It’s too controversial.” “It’s too difficult.” Those are excuses. We need solutions.
Frankly, if Congress and the White House wait until after the November elections to even begin to consider these proposals, that will be at least six months of wasted time, six months of lingering economic uncertainty, and six months of frustratingly slow job creation. The American people can’t afford six weeks of delay, let alone six months.
TechElect will continue to press for action by Congress and support by the presidential campaigns for these commonsense, bipartisan approaches. They are the right formula for recovery and lasting economic strength.
-- Tom Gavin is ITI's vice president of external affairs.