January 1, 2013

The Work Ahead: A Talk With the President

“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”  —Alex de Tocqueville 

Mr. President, as you may know, companies involved in the production, wholesaling and primary processing of steel, aluminum, copper and brass provide nearly 2.5 million jobs that pay more than $55 billion in wages to families across the country, contributing more than $171 billion to our country’s economy each year, and at least $64 billion in taxes.

WWe were encouraged to hear you mention the deficit, tax reform, immigration reform and energy policy in your election night acceptance speech. Those are crucial parts of our agenda at MSCI, along with equitable trade policy, sensible regulatory reform and education and training programs to create a glob- ally competitive work force.

We are increasingly concerned with how few forward-looking, long-term solutions, we see coming from Washington, D.C. We can only hope for more solid progress on the critical job of restoring confidence in our governing institutions and reaching principled compromises to solve our most pressing economic problems.

We are looking for constructive work that will break the three-year budget gridlock, a paralysis that has eroded economic confidence and created so much uncertainty that many of our members have been reluctant to expand operations or add new workers.

We urge you to help craft a budget that encourages growth and establishes a rigorous plan for living within our means, resolving our nagging debt and deficit imbalances. This, as you know, can only happen if we have the political courage to address the impending insolvency of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

We are hopeful, too, for a breakthrough on creating a more sensible and economically palatable regulatory system. We now have a climate of adversarial regulation that has seemingly pitted government against business in a confrontation that paints business as the bad guy and reduces our ability to compete globally. We are hoping for a more collaborative approach between business and government, ensuring workplace and public safety.

Tax reform is on everyone’s “to do” list these days, but so far it’s only talk. Since we have the highest statutory tax rates in the world, keeping globally competitive rates is a must for this country to remain the best place in the world to invest, live and work. For our members, this means streamlining and reducing the tax burden on corporations and individuals, and cut- ting capital gains and dividend taxes.

Mr. President, as you have acknowledged, we must graduate students with the skills demanded by a global economy. We also must have commonsense immigration reforms that ensure U.S. corporations have access to adequate numbers of both low- and high-skilled workers.

Sir, as you no doubt know, one in three manufacturing jobs depend on trade and more than 38 million U.S. jobs rely on efficient trade. But, our members are hampered daily by tariff barriers, restricted international markets and obvious currency manipulation by our global competitors. Specifically, we must require notorious abusers like China to comply with their World Trade Organization obligations and allow their currency to trade freely inthe world.

Finally, Mr. President, we are greatly encouraged by the country’s move toward energy independence propelled by opportunities in natural gas and shale oil development. Clearly, we must do everything possible to encourage our so-called “all of the above” energy resources. However, this encouragement should be equitable, cost efficient, energy efficient and environmentally friendly, while avoiding favoring one resource or technology.

Mr. President, we can only hope that a new spirit of constructive collaboration seeps into a Capitol where it has too long been absent. And that the greatness of this country, as Alexis de Tocqueville saw it many years ago, will once again emerge.

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