Business Executives Tells Obama How to Create Jobs

A group of executives advising President Barack Obama on jobs is recommending an initiative to attract $1 trillion in foreign direct investment within five years and upgrade the nation’s transportation and energy infrastructure.

The president is scheduled to deliver a speech and convene a meeting of his jobs council while visiting the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 5 Training Center today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Photo: Danny Ozuna/Flickr

The 27-member jobs council is headed by General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt, and includes AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, AOL co-founder Steve Case and Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

“If Washington can agree on anything, it should be this — and it should be now,” the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness said in the report, to be presented to Obama at a meeting in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

“We never thought there was going to be a silver bullet to create jobs,” Immelt told Reuters in a telephone interview. “What we want to offer the president is a very broad set of ideas that can help more the economy forward,” he said. “It’s comprehensive and it’s specific.”

The 50-page report carefully avoids taking a stand on Obama’s $447 billion jobs package. Instead, it offers recommendations that are bound to meet resistance from one party or the other.

With the U.S.jobless rate at 9.1 percent in September – the sixth consecutive month it’s been at 9 percent or higher – Obama is pressing Congress to act on his jobs plan. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, has scheduled a test vote this evening on the legislation which faces resistance from Republicans and some Democrats on its tax and spending provisions.

The president is scheduled to deliver a speech and convene a meeting of his jobs council while visiting the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 5 Training Center today in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The jobs council report, published on its website, calls for more extensive initiatives than the president has proposed, touching on immigration, tax policy, business regulation and worker training.

It contains recommendations that support Obama’s proposals, such as infrastructure spending, as well as those that Republicans back, including relaxing some regulation. “There is no ‘silver bullet’ to create jobs,” the report says.

It also recommends lower corporate taxes for new companies in their first three years, a reduced capital gains rate for investors buying equity in young firms and other measures to encourage people to launch start-up companies.

The report calls for tax reforms to make it more competitive for companies to locate in the United States, part of an effort to attract more foreign direct investment.

The report also steps into the politically charged debate over immigration. It proposes eased immigration rules for high-skilled foreigners, including automatic work permits or provisional visas to all foreign students after they earn science, technology, engineering or math degrees from U.S.colleges or universities.

“We are sympathetic to the political sensitivities around the topic of immigration reform,” the council report states. “But when it comes to driving job creation and increasing American competitiveness, separating the highly skilled worker component is critical.”

“We therefore call upon Congress to pass reforms aimed directly at allowing the most promising foreign-born entrepreneurs to remain in or relocate to the United States.”

The council backs Obama’s call for spending on infrastructure improvements both to spur hiring in the short term and improve the nation’s long-term competitiveness by making the economy more productive. It also recommends steps to encourage private investment in advanced energy technology.

The report said rising wage and operating costs in India and China have made the United States more attractive to firms that have shifted their business abroad in recent years but may want to return because of strong U.S.universities and research hubs.

“By capitalizing on these shifts in costs with a more aggressive marketing of America’s attractiveness as an investment destination, the United States has an opportunity to recapture lost market share and grow jobs previously lost in tradable sectors,” it said. [via Reuters, Bloomberg and CBS]

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