News / USA

Business Leaders Warn of Unsustainable US Economy

Frank Wallace who is unemployed displays a sign during a "Vigil for the Unemployed" at the Arch Street Methodist Church in Philadelphia, 22 Nov 2010
Frank Wallace who is unemployed displays a sign during a "Vigil for the Unemployed" at the Arch Street Methodist Church in Philadelphia, 22 Nov 2010

A group of leading U.S. economists and business executives say the United States is on an unsustainable economic course, with ballooning interest costs to service the national debt depriving markets of needed investment capital.

Billionaire investment banker Pete Peterson told the forum that growing interest costs to service the national debt are depriving the United States of capital needed for research and development as well as infrastructure.  He said America is also spending more on health care, but getting less in return than other countries.

Peterson, who served as President Richard Nixon's Commerce Secretary, quoted a former colleague who said that if something is unsustainable it tends to stop. "Or, he said, 'if your horse dies, I suggest you dismount.'  Now, we keep behaving as though we can ride this horse more or less indefinitely," he stated.

Inaction not an option

The forum was held just hours after President Barack Obama's bipartisan deficit reduction commission released a recommendation for long-term tax increases and government spending cuts.   New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg announced support for the plan, saying inaction on America's debt crisis is not an option at this point.

Fred Smith, the CEO of global shipping giant FedEx, said he concurs. "This issue is going to be joined, and these unsustainable trends both on Medicare, the interest on the debt and so forth are going to stop.  It's only a question of whether we do it, or whether the market stops buying our bonds and funding our deficits," Smith said.

Smith recommended changing the country's corporate tax structure to favor industrial rather than financial activity.  This, he said, would create not only products, but jobs.

Carl Camden, CEO of Kelly Services, a global temporary help company, warned there will be no political will for deficit reduction unless America reduces its current high rate of unemployment.  He said high unemployment creates political instability that precludes structural changes, including higher taxes, needed to lower the deficit.

He too addressed the issue of health care, saying America needs a viable insurance program to remain competitive with other countries.  Camden said the current high cost of health insurance amounts to an employment tax. "If we don't solve the health care issue, if we allow it in particular to continue to drive up the cost of employment, it will be a rational decision of policy makers and companies to create jobs elsewhere," he said.

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Michael Chesser, CEO of the Great Plains Energy Company, said the business community needs to not only address performance and tax issues, but to also inspire faith in the future based on what he called America's core competencies of innovation and entrepreneurship.

"We need to be thinking of the impact we're going to have on emerging countries, how the quality of life is going to improve as a result of what we're doing," Chesser says, "how we're going to close the gap between the haves and have-nots in our country; you know - to have a sense of a higher purpose."

Consequences of gerrymandering

President Obama's former director of the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orzag pointed to structural issues that he said are causing polarization in American politics that make it difficult to reach consensus about a solution.

"Including the unintended consequences of gerrymandering, including technological change in the media, including even the unintended consequences of airline deregulation and the reduction in transportation costs, which have made it easier for members of Congress to go home on weekends," Orzag said.

Gerrymandering is the redrawing of electoral districts to serve the needs of parties rather than voters.  

Orzag, noted the cost of solving America's economic problems will be less if they are addressed before they reach crisis proportions.  He said he remains hopeful solutions will be forthcoming before it's too late.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid