In an acknowledgment of the economic importance of travel and tourism, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce included the industry as one of its five priorities for 2012 in its annual State of American Business report. The Chamber also urged Congress to finish FAA reauthorization, which has been delayed for four years and deploy the NextGen air traffic control system.
"Advance bilateral investment treaties and expand visa-waiver programs to restore America’s share of the travel market to 2001 levels, creating 1.3 million new jobs, " was cited by U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue in his annual State of American Business address. Donohue called on lawmakers to exert leadership in an election year by enacting policies that will drive private-sector growth and create jobs.
“As we begin 2012, the state of business is improving, but it is doing so weakly, slowly, and insufficiently to put enough of our country back to work,” said Donohue. “We are still down 6 million jobs from the start of the recession. We must grow faster. And we can—if leaders in Washington work with the private sector to spur growth and create jobs without increasing taxes or adding to the deficit.”
Donohue said businesses large and small are already driving the recovery and are eager to invest, compete, and hire more if government would sweep away a number of impediments to growth and investment. “Real leaders understand that Americans can have big differences in philosophy but still find common ground,” he said. “This nation has always succeeded when we have worked together.”
While stressing cooperation and finding common ground, Donohue said the Chamber would hold lawmakers and candidates accountable for their positions on jobs and economic growth through its most aggressive voter education effort in the institution’s 100-year history.
“In overwhelming numbers, Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track,” he said. “They want their leaders to lead, to find solutions to our problems, and to stop playing political games with people’s jobs, livelihoods, and life savings.”
Donohue outlined five priorities that the Chamber believes will boost America’s competitiveness in the global economy:
• Producing American Energy and Rebuilding Our Infrastructure: Approve the Keystone pipeline to put up to 250,000 Americans to work over the life of the project while preventing the EPA from enacting new regulations on fracking that sabotage a natural gas revolution. Finish FAA reauthorization, which is more than four years delayed, renew SAFETEA-LU before it expires in March, deploy the NextGen air traffic control system, and invest in our water infrastructure.
• Expanding Trade, Investment, and Tourism: Renew Trade Promotion Authority in order to complete a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement with eight of our best commercial partners in the booming Asia-Pacific region, grant permanent normal trade relations with Russia, and move on trade deals with Brazil, Egypt, and India. Advance bilateral investment treaties and expand visa-waiver programs to restore America’s share of the travel market to 2001 levels, creating 1.3 million new jobs.
• Advancing Regulatory and Legal Reform: Pass the Administrative Procedure Act to restore sound science, quality data, and common sense to the regulatory system while curbing regulatory overreach by EPA and the National Labor Relations Board. Stop the expansion of liability at home and abroad that is sucking the vitality out of our nation’s job creators.
• Developing an Innovation Agenda: Protect America’s intellectual property-related industries and its 19 million workers by passing legislation cutting off rogue websites from the U.S. marketplace. Reform our failing schools, enact a globally competitive tax system, and fix our broken immigration system.
• Controlling Spending and Reforming Entitlements: Make reasonable, phased-in changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security in order to save these programs and keep our commitment to the sick and elderly for generations to come.
“Our country is superbly positioned for a new era of growth,” Donohue said. “As growth starts to return, and as we convince our government to remove some of the impediments, then it will be incumbent on business to take a few more risks and to make more investments."
“There’s a responsibility for business to stand up for the one economic system that can restore our nation to growth and prosperity: American free enterprise,” he said.