Washington – Business Roundtable President John Engler issued the following statement in reaction to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address:
“President Obama wisely focused his speech tonight on the economy and jobs. Unemployment remains unacceptably high, the economy actually contracted last quarter, and the CBO projects a disappointing 1.4 percent GDP growth this year. We have to do better. We need to set the nation on a long-term path toward more robust growth, with the private sector leading the way.
“If we’re going to get serious about growing the U.S. economy, comprehensive tax reform must be a priority. Targeting specific industries for tax increases just makes it more difficult to overhaul the U.S. tax system, which is what’s needed to make the country more competitive in the global marketplace.
“Entitlement reform deserves a more serious discussion. If we delay action on Medicare and Social Security, these programs will soon consume more than half of the federal budget, and eventually they’ll fail. Modest reforms can save these programs and, at the same time, create an environment that encourages the economic growth President Obama is talking about.
“Business Roundtable appreciates the President’s comments about immigration – a key growth issue. CEOs agree that we need comprehensive reform to bring the best talent in the world to the United States, while filling the workforce demands of a dynamic economy.
“The President also embraced the incredible economic potential represented by natural gas and energy efficiency. If America supports its abundant energy resources, we stand ready to achieve North American energy independence, and economic growth will be the result.
“Growth and job creation should absolutely be national priorities. But saying so doesn’t make it so. What’s required is action in Washington to create a better business environment, and we need to stop lurching from crisis to crisis. If growth is really the goal, the President and Congress should start with actual budgets, legislation and debate.”
Business Roundtable recently issued its policy recommendations, It’s Time to Act for America’s Future: 2013 CEO Growth Agenda.