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

    No More Space Race for US, Rivalry Gives Way to Collaboration

    What began as a struggle for dominance in space between two world powers has changed entirely to one of joint efforts

    Beijing Warns Critics Over South China Sea Dispute

    Official warns critics that the more they challenge China's position regarding disputed territories in one of world’s busiest waterways, the more it will push back

    Move Over Millennials, Here Comes iGeneration

    How the first generation to be born, almost literally, with a smartphone in hand, might change America

    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.
    Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020i
    X
    Ramon Taylor
    May 05, 2016 10:05 PM
    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Image Recognition Market Seen Doubling by 2020

    From auto tagging on Facebook to self-driving cars, image recognition technology as it exists today is still in its beginning phases, experts say — and will soon change the way users and corporations interact with the physical world. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
    Video

    Video Child Labor in Afghanistan Remains a Problem

    With war still raging in Afghanistan, the country also faces the problem of child labor as families put their school-age children to work to help make ends meet. But, thanks to VOA's Afghan Service, two families whose children had been working in a brick-making factory - to earn their livings and pay off family debts - now have a new lease on life. Zabihullah Ghazi reports.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora