Eighteen months ago, in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the business community worked with Congress and the president to rescue the economy and put Americans back to work. We supported programs to stabilize our financial institutions, bolster key industries, and help the unemployed. Working together, we succeeded in preventing another depression.
Although our economy may be growing again, it is not growing nearly fast enough to create the jobs Americans want and need. In fact, if we continue on our current course, we may lose even more jobs and we could end up in a double-dip recession. So, what happened to slow our progress? And more importantly, what can we do about it?
Very simply, the Congressional majority and the administration took their eyes off the ball.
Instead of continuing their partnership with the business community and embracing proven ideas for job creation, they attacked and demonized key industries. They embarked on a course of rapid government expansion, major tax increases, and suffocating regulations -- going well beyond what had to be done to keep the economy out of a depression. They have allowed the unions to call the shots on the nation's trade agenda, and as a result, we are lagging far behind our global competitors. And while it is true that they inherited a big deficit, their spending policies have made the problem far worse -- and completely unsustainable.
All of this has injected tremendous uncertainty into our economy -- and uncertainty is the enemy of investment, growth, and jobs. Banks, investors, companies, small businesses, and consumers are worried. They don't know what is going to hit them next.
Small businesses, which are so vital to the creation of new jobs, can't get the capital they need to grow -- or they don't want to spend the money they have. Many are struggling just to survive.
Larger corporations overall have plenty of cash but they are sitting on it. They cannot, in good faith to their shareholders, incur the heavy obligations of expanding and adding to payroll at this time.
Neither large nor small businesses know what their health care costs are going to be under the new law. And they're not sure where they will find future capital under the financial reform bill.
They don't know what the new workplace and EPA rules might be. They are facing the prospect of major tax increases and perhaps a price on carbon to boot. They see weak consumer demand at home and abroad.
Under these circumstances, if you were an investor, or a corporate decision-maker, or a small business owner, would you make a big decision today to expand and create more jobs here in the United States? Unfortunately, the answer for most is no. And so today, over 16 percent of the American workforce is either unemployed, underemployed, or has given up looking for a job altogether.
Government's role is to establish the right conditions so that the private sector can invest, compete, create new products and services, and put Americans back to work. But that's not happening. No matter how well-intentioned or politically popular a suggested law or regulation might be, the question should always be asked -- what will be the impact on American jobs?
We fear that this question is often ignored in the halls of our government today. Our current economic direction is not working. It's not helping those who need help the most -- the workers and the job creators who are struggling to keep them employed.
The business community wants to help our economy and the country succeed. We don't want to wait until after the election. We're ready to work with anyone who believes, like we do, that creating economic growth and jobs is the nation's highest priority. And we don't care who gets the credit.
Yesterday we offered a workable roadmap to greater prosperity and more jobs. It is a plan that is rooted in the principles of American free enterprise -- not a perfect system by any means, but the very best system ever devised to create jobs, hope, and opportunity.
It is time to go to work and create Jobs for America.
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