US must reform taxes, education to regain edge, officials say

Major reforms in tax policy, education and immigration policy are needed to make the United States more competitive, a panel of government and industry experts said.

“If we don’t sustain a culture of risk and innovation, we won’t have the right inputs,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said. “I think we will overcome partisanship to pass legislation for expanding American creativity.”

Coons was a member of a panel at an event sponsored by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation held June 23 in Washington, D.C.

“Long-term structure decisions need to be made now, before we fall off a cliff,” said John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable and former governor of Michigan.

He also called for improvements in education strategies to boost students’ interest in science and technology.

Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra agreed that education is essential for jump-starting American innovation and, in turn, the economy. He added that entrepreneurialism is another important component.

“Human capital is key,” said Chopra, citing President Barack Obama’s goal of raising U.S. college graduation rates to the highest in the world by 2020.

Furthermore, nearly all the panelists agreed that immigration reform is essential to improving American innovation. They said that by training students from other countries but not allowing them to stay in the United States, we are hurting the country’s drive toward competitiveness.

“America has national-securitized the immigration system,” said Edward Luce, Washington bureau chief at the Financial Times.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said the H-1B non-immigrant visa, which allows foreign workers temporary employment in specialty fields, is fraudulent and harmful to progress in American education and industry.

“These aren’t temporary workers; we need them permanently,” Issa said. “It’s time for real immigration policy reform.”

“Immigration reform and keeping talent in the U.S. is a given,” Engler said. “We need to make the U.S. the best place for a company to be headquartered.”

Panelists also said an antiquated tax system is hurting the United States.

“We need new tax policy.… We need to tax consumption, not investment,” Issa said. “A great deal of our prosperity is untaxed because it’s overseas.”

Engler proposed a corporate tax structure similar to Canada’s rate of 15 percent and said the United States must stop wasting taxpayer dollars on unnecessary legal expenditures.

“We need to stop litigating everything in America,” he said. “We have 4 percent of the world’s population doing 96 percent of the world’s litigating…and that’s a tax we don’t need to be paying.”

Ron Blackwell, chief economist at the AFL-CIO, said reform hinges on the private sector and investment in the right places. He added that the critical condition the country finds itself in is an opportunity for reform.

“Our future depends on our companies and our country to innovate.… Without better products and services, we won’t succeed,” Blackwell said. “Our country is not competitive. We need a world-class workforce.… Instead of investing [in education], we’re taking away Pell grants. It doesn’t make sense. We need to publicly invest in the skills of workers and in our infrastructure…to build a sustainable, high-growth economy.”

However, although officials recognize those needs, the critical work of implementation remains, Luce said.

“The needs are not in dispute,” he said. “What’s in dispute is the ability to do these things.”

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Reader comments

Tue, Jul 12, 2011 Andrew Weaver

Politicians, I urge you and your fellow colleagues to stop discriminating against the majority of Americans. Due to several of your polices to lower the national debt suggest cutting programs that help elderly, poor and unfortunate citizens. This crosses a dark threshold into class discrimination. In part because the majority of Americans continue to have their programs cut or under funded by government. While the rich continue to be exempt from paying their fair share in taxes. It’s unconstitutional to allow any person the ability not to pay his or her equal share in taxes. Not to mention if the rich paid an equal percentage then our national debt would be cut dramatically. And then you could have legitimate discussions about cutting or reducing other costly programs. Because every American needs to contribute in fixing our national debt crises caused by big businesses profit schemes and the failures of our regulatory agencies. Nevertheless if politicians continue to discriminate then the blowbacks will only be worse for future generations of Americans. So the question now is how far are you going push us down this threshold of class discrimination? Because this type of class diversity only gives negative mentalities toward American democracy. “We are, each of us, angels with only one wing, and we can only fly embracing each other.” -Luciano De Crescenzo

Mon, Jun 27, 2011 Earth

Whistling past the grave yard. For instance…
“We need new tax policy.… We need to tax consumption, not investment,” Issa said. “A great deal of our prosperity is untaxed because it’s overseas.” Wouldn’t it be easer to tax foreign investment and payrolls? Create the incentive to return the jobs back to the US. If you don’t tax foreign investment you just create an incentive to move the money, and jobs, out of the US.
And why do we give scholarships to sports. Isn’t that an oxymoron. Shouldn’t you give scholarships to scholars? And there are plenty of people capable of higher degrees among the US citizens but they don’t get scholarships like the foreigners. And given the foreigners get the scholarships under the proviso they return to their countries it won’t help to give them citizenship. Why don’t you help our citizens instead of spending so much money helping foreigners?
Finally, when industry is allowed to “regulate itself” the only way for the people to force them to do so is to sue the hell out of them. Wouldn’t it be cheaper to regulate by law and have very good enforcement than wait till there are Love Canals and Great Lakes catching on fire?
Why do we keep allowing the mentally incompetent to run for high office?

Mon, Jun 27, 2011

Germany is the benchmark that we should be looking at as a model for retraining our workforce. Germany sailed through the global recession with relatively low levels of unemployment. They use frequent training to push new skills into the workforce and they recognize that college isn't the answer for everyone. They also focus on blue-collar workers and have built a strong non-managerial technical workforce.

Mon, Jun 27, 2011 Erich Darr

Put all of those lawyers out of work? The biggest problem we have in American education is lack of interest by many parents in their children's education and their failure to deliver a child to the schools that's prepared to be educated. It's not the schools' job to raise children. Too many parents today don't respect teachers. It shows in the actions of their children. The decline in education can be traced in part to the rise in the number of baby daddies.

Mon, Jun 27, 2011

Why doesn't anyone criticize the NEA?

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