Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) president Gary Shapiro sent the letter below to President Obama, Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ken.), John Boehner (R-Ohio), and Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
Dear President Obama and Congressional Leaders:
While you focus on the debt limit, Americans are concerned about jobs, paying their mortgage or rent, and saving for their children’s education. Yet, the debt limit debate and talk of raising taxes simply discourages business confidence and the creation of jobs.
Having written a bestselling book on innovation – The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream – and as the president and CEO of an association representing 2,000 innovative U.S. companies, I implore you to consider a bipartisan strategy supporting economic growth and innovation.
Last week, I returned from China and sadly agree with the view that we are reverting to second-class status. This situation – expressed aptly in last Friday’s Wall Street Journal by former Microsoft Chief Operating Officer J. Robert Herbold in an article titled “China vs. America: Which Is the Developing Country?” – can be cured with visionary leadership and a bipartisan strategy.
I suggest you align with the primary concern of Americans: Growing the economy and creating jobs. Growth comes from innovation. Many of America’s largest, most dynamic companies today didn’t exist 20 years ago. That’s innovation. That’s economic growth.
Job creation requires an environment conducive to entrepreneurism, investment, and innovation. It does not require new taxes or new spending. If you agree on long-term growth strategies, then businesses will invest and hire Americans. Please consider acting on the policies below, most of which you have already lauded in rhetoric:
1. Cutting the corporate tax rate to 25 percent (from 35 percent) but also eliminating corporate tax breaks. Also, we should follow the example of most other nations, and only tax income earned in the United States. This is a jobs-creating, pro-growth strategy that would inspire business confidence.
2. Allowing repatriation of the more than one trillion dollars of corporate money parked overseas at a lower tax rate if these companies use that money to make capital investments, hire more workers or buy bonds from a U.S. infrastructure bank. This will immediately add several billion dollars in tax revenue, create new jobs and cut spending on unemployment insurance.
3. Changing the immigration laws to give visas and eventual citizenship to immigrants who earn advanced degrees in science, math, IT and engineering from American universities. We now invest in educating these immigrants and then kick them out whereupon they then become our competitors. This is absurd. We should also extend visas to entrepreneurs with a funded business plan to hire Americans. This is a long-term, pro-innovation and pro-entrepreneurism strategy.
4. Allowing the FCC to hold voluntary auctions of our nation’s underused spectrum, which could generate an estimated $30 billion in revenue. A 21st century wireless broadband infrastructure will keep us as leaders of the Internet and avoid the projected wireless broadband spectrum crunch.
5. Encouraging more travel to the United States by granting visa waivers to friendly countries and redeploying embassy officials to countries with excessive visa wait-times. The U.S. Travel Association estimates that if U.S. travel had tracked the five-year growth in world travel, 78 million more travelers would have visited us, adding a total of $606 billion to our economy and supporting more than 467,000 additional U.S. jobs.
6. Passing the trade deals with Panama, South Korea and Colombia. Our failure to act is an embarrassment and is costing us jobs. We cannot further isolate the United States while the rest of developed world is cutting trade barriers.
The debt-ceiling is a serious issue. But our single-minded focus on it has obscured the personal crisis Americans face: Can we put Americans back to work? Does America still have the sort of real leadership that made us great? Our leaders must be as great as our challenge.
Please, it’s time to lead and put the nation before either political party.
President and CEO
Consumer Electronics Association