Some suggestions for improving troubled economy

Published 8:08 am Wednesday, October 13, 2010

America’s economy is in trouble.

After three years of recession and despite a trillion-dollar federal stimulus plan, unemployment continues to rise, and the American dream is fading for millions of families.

Getting our economy moving again and creating jobs is the most important issue currently facing our country, but the federal government continues to pursue policies that suppress economic growth, as opposed to policies that promote economic growth.

In my role as Virginia’s chief jobs creation officer, I have met with more chief executive officers than anyone in our state. On the basis of these discussions I would respectfully offer some advice to President Obama, advice that would help change our nation’s economic direction.

Mr. President, if you are really serious about getting our economy moving again and creating jobs, here are seven positive suggestions I would offer to you and your economic team:

• Acknowledge that the economic policies you have pursued for the past 18 months have not worked the way you hoped they would. This will not be easy, but it will send a positive message to the business community and enable you to change course and move in a more pro-business direction.

• Publicly abandon certain high-profile, anti-business policies that have been pursued during the past 18 months. Assure American businesses that you will no longer pursue card check or cap-and-trade legislation, and agree to repeal those portions of the federal health care bill that impose massive mandates, fines and penalties on businesses.

• Agree to make the federal tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 permanent for every American. We cannot afford to allow these tax cuts to expire. If they do, it will result in a $135 billion tax increase on families and businesses. This is no time to be raising taxes on anyone, and if we allow these tax cuts to expire, it could drive our economy right back into recession.

• Enact legislation that provides additional tax cuts for businesses that create jobs and make major capital investments. This will encourage employers to expand their businesses and hire new workers. The direct and indirect impacts will be significant.

• Rein in the Environmental Protection Agency, whose overly aggressive regulatory policies are suffocating the ability of the private sector to create jobs. Suspend all of the new EPA regulations that have been adopted in the past 18 months and order federal regulators to work with the business community to find a way to approve pending job-creating projects.

• Instruct federal financial regulators to relax their restrictive standards and allow local banks to make more loans to small businesses. Banks have money that they are prepared to lend, but overly aggressive federal regulations are making it impossible for them to lend to those who need help the most.

• Pledge to reduce federal spending by at least 5 percent per year for the foreseeable future, with a goal of reducing federal spending to 2006 levels. We have done this in Virginia and it can be done at the federal level as well.

I realize that there are no silver bullets that will get our economy moving again, but economic growth will never occur until we stop pursuing anti-business policies and start pursuing pro-business policies such as those outlined above.

Mr. President, it is never easy to admit you were wrong, but it is sometimes a necessary trait that leadership requires. I implore you to seriously consider embracing these types of pro-business policies for the sake of America’s families before it is too late.

Bill Bolling is lieutenant governor of Virginia. He can be reached at