Most Americans are glad to have 2009 behind them. It was a rough year for businesses, the country, and families alike. As we begin 2010, things look a little brighter, although many people and companies are still struggling.
What will the state of American business be in 2010? Most likely, it will be uncertainty with a dose of optimism.
The uncertainty facing American businesses is primarily a result of actions being taken in Washington. With elected officials debating significant changes to health care, tax, and climate change policies--to name just a few--businesses are understandably hesitant to make the investments necessary to create jobs. But there is also cause for optimism--the economy has started to grow modestly and should continue to do so in the coming months.
Unfortunately, modest economic growth will not be sufficient to quickly reduce high unemployment and put Americans back to work. That's why the U.S. Chamber believes that, of all the important challenges facing our nation, no domestic challenge is more critical than creating the 20 million jobs we'll need by the end of the next decade. Only with a strong and growing private sector--backed by sensible government policies with modest levels of regulation and taxation and a reasonable degree of certainty--can we reach this goal.
Doubling U.S. exports over the next five years must be a top priority. To do so, we should enact pending trade pacts that work heavily to our advantage, pursue new commercial arrangements in emerging economies, enforce existing trade agreements, modernize export controls, and help smaller firms export.
The modernization of America's aging and insufficient infrastructure is also an imperative. If we can remove regulatory and legal impediments, private sector investment could spur job creation and long-term economic prosperity. Upgrades to our transportation, energy, water, and broadband systems will make it possible for people, goods, and information to move more quickly and safely.
Many Americans are excited by the potential for green jobs resulting from technological breakthroughs in the energy sector. We share this enthusiasm and support private and public sector investments in alternative and renewable energies. But we should also rapidly expand our supply of clean, safe nuclear energy.
We must find ways to ensure that businesses--especially small businesses--can get the credit they need to expand and create jobs. Congress should overhaul our financial regulatory system with smarter, more efficient regulations and promote greater transparency.
Let's make 2010 the year when we empower our job creators and push the economy back toward sustainable growth.