A Nationwide Tour on the Virtues of More Economic Growth

January 27, 2015
Senior Adviser, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

The topic of economic growth has been in the news lately, and I am glad to see it’s getting attention.

I am encouraged by recent figures that show strong economic growth over the last two quarters. But as the as the most recent long-term projections from the Congressional Budget Office show, we need significant policy changes to ensure that these gains are not short-lived. That’s why I’m eager to begin a nationwide tour to help explain how faster economic growth will benefit each and every American.

The Growth Imperative tour will begin June 28 in Richmond, VA, where I will speak with members of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

Our tour kicks off at a time when many lawmakers and economists have had growth on their mind.

I was pleased to see the House Ways & Means Committee take up the issue of growth at a hearing on January 13. The committee invited the testimony of several economists, including Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of American Action Forum and author of the Foundation’s report, The Growth Imperative: How Slow Growth Threatens Our Future and the American Dream.

Holtz-Eakin and his colleagues said members of the 114th Congress could have a big impact on our nation’s health by taking growth into account when crafting policy. As Holtz-Eakin has noted, our projected annual growth rate over the next decade still lags under 3%, far below the historical norm. The CBO has reduced its 2014-2018 growth estimate from 2.7% to 2.5% with a long-run estimate of just 2.2%. We must avoid getting too excited about short-term gains and instead focus on building a foundation for long-term economic growth.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue made a similar point during his State of the American Business address. I agree with his belief that recent gains in economic growth are good, but that we are “not out of the woods.”

We still need more growth, and that’s why I’m eager to begin traveling the country to spread this message. It makes sense to kick off the tour by meeting with members of Virginia’s business community, who have shown great leadership in encouraging policies that spur growth.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 2014 Enterprising States report gives Virginia high marks for its ability to attract high-tech businesses, and the commonwealth has also shown an impressive ability to create STEM jobs. Virginia is also among the nation’s leaders in building a talent pipeline for employers, thanks in part to its rigorous high school curriculum. It is my hope that the lessons from Virginia can be passed on to other states.

After visiting Virginia, the Growth Imperative tour is also scheduled to visit with chambers of commerce in Florida, Minnesota, Alabama and Texas.

We have a great opportunity now to see our nation’s economy grow like never before. But we must encourage our leaders to talk about the impact of growth when passing legislation. I expect that the Foundation’s upcoming Growth Imperative tour will be an important part of that conversation.

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