After two years, President Obama finally met with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber is an active voice for businesses across the country, so one would think a president who claims he is looking to lower the unemployment rate would want to sit down and work with the Chamber to find solutions that promote job growth. While late is better than never, there is no doubt following this address that the president still needs to develop a clearer understanding of what businesses — both small and large — need and find out how we can strengthen our economy and get folks back to work.
What I hear businesses saying clear as day is that when they are uncertain about the action of government in areas of regulation and tax reform, it creates a barrier to job creation. The uncertainty lies in areas of cost projections; it slows operations and stifles growth. After two years of new health care laws, a proposed energy tax and costly new labor regulations, businesses are ready for a break.
The tax cut extension is a great example. By passing legislation to keep the tax cuts in place for the next two years, Congress and the president gave businesses cost certainty, and some businesses were even able to hire new employees.
During his speech, the president asked businesses to “get in the game” and start investing in the nation. But the president is missing the larger picture: businesses don’t make a decision to hold excess capital because they are somehow unwilling to play a game — after all, businesses employ millions of Americans already. Businesses are holding excess capital because they are afraid they will need it to pay for the costs of unnecessary regulations, and it’s time the president understands that fundamental issue. Without businesses, there are essentially no jobs.
One area in which the president and I agree is that education needs to be a part of the equation when it comes to job creation. As the Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee Chair for the Education and the Workforce Committee, I am going to work diligently and hold hearings that explore how we can spur job growth by giving workers the skills they need to find a job in today’s global economy.
Additionally, to lower the unemployment rate, we’ll need to reduce the deficit, because we need to give our markets confidence that the United States will always be able to meet its financial obligations. Congress needs to get its financial house in order to help create a sustainable economy.
Congress, the president and organizations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce should be working together to create solid solutions that promote job growth. Working together is essential to our progress as a nation.
Rep. Phil Roe represents Tennessee’s First Congressional District.