Growth, Reform, and Freedom Can Revive American Prosperity

Feb 22, 2013

U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue testifies before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Photographer: Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

In a speech to the Manhattan Institute, U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue said, “There is a pronounced shortage of truth telling in Washington these days.” He’s concerned about “the routine neglect of basic facts and fundamental realities” in our politics.

As an antidote, Donohue prescribed a “strong dose of reality” that includes the need for economic growth, economic freedom, empowering the American free enterprise system, and the U.S. Chamber's American Jobs and Growth Agenda. Here are some excerpts from his speech:

The first reality is that we can’t do much of anything without economic growth—and you can’t create growth and jobs without the private sector.

Here’s another reality—demography is destiny. That’s one you’ve heard before, right?

Well, there are plenty of folks in Washington who are acting like they have never heard it before—stubbornly refusing to acknowledge any changes in entitlements to reflect longer life expectancies, more retirees, and a shortage of native-born Americans to run our economy.

There’s another reality most people know is true but want to wish away. And it’s that there is no such thing as a national economy anymore. At least not like we once knew it. We are part of a global economy and a very competitive one. Our policies must reflect this reality.

And, any rational analysis of the facts and our history will tell us that of all the things we believe make America special, the one that really stands out and explains our success and our leadership is the value we place on economic freedom.

Economic freedom—the right to take a risk and be rewarded for one’s success. The right to take a risk and fail—and get up off the floor to try again. The dream of standing on your own two feet, seizing opportunity and building self sufficiency through hard work and personal responsibility.

It’s all part of America’s secret sauce and something we must preserve for future generations.

[I]f the economy grew at a 4% rate instead of the meager 2% we have now, we could create 10 million additional jobs during the next decade.

We could return the economy to full employment through growth alone, with no rise in government spending.

With 4% growth, the government would collect more than $3 trillion in additional revenue over the coming decade and we’d see a 30% reduction in the 10-year budget deficit.

Exports would boom, household income would increase, 3 million people would rise out of poverty, and charitable giving would skyrocket by about $200 billion.

We need to be vocal and aggressive advocates for the free enterprise system … for global American leadership … for the timeless principles of our founding fathers … and for market-based solutions rooted in reality that will help reignite this economy and put us back on the path to prosperity.

The stark reality of the leadership deficit in Washington is the one reality we cannot afford to ignore.

In fact, it is a call to leadership—a leadership unafraid to point out the realities and offer sensible, workable solutions that may involve short-term pain for long-term gain.

We need a national conversation over the tough choices that need to be made. Doing so requires us to tell people things they don’t want to hear.

Many of our leaders in Washington won’t do it, so we must.

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