Dean C. Garfield photo
House? Senate? Action!

Hollywood’s movie magic historically begins with the bark of “Lights?  Camera?  Action!”  Last night, President Barack Obama urged Congress to join him in “a year of action,” and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), in her response, echoed that sentiment with a call for “real action.” It appears there is growing hope for some policy magic on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

We at ITI agree with President Obama and Congresswoman McMorris Rogers that 2014 could be a year of significant policy achievement.  Just a few weeks ago, I detailed how Congress could win its second half, and on Monday, in a preview of the State of the Union, I listed the top ten tech issues that, if achieved, would create an agenda of opportunity for Americans.

So, yes, it’s time for the president and Congress to act – on trade promotion, immigration reform, surveillance reform, patent litigation reform, and even tax reform, just to name half of tech’s top ten.  But more important than action by the Administration and Congress is the action that will occur in our economy as a result:

  • The Congressional Budget Office estimated that immigration reform would generate $1.4 trillion in new economic activity and reduce the federal deficit by $850 billion over the next two decades.
  • Market-opening regional trade agreements currently being negotiated are expected to add millions of new U.S. jobs.  In 2011, more than 38 million U.S. jobs are linked to U.S. global trade – that’s 24 million more trade-related jobs than two decades ago. 
  • Patent litigation reform will reverse lost economic opportunity due to excessive litigation by patent trolls.  One independent report found that, just in 2011 alone, patent litigation imposed $29 billion in direct costs on defendants, most of them being small- and medium-sized firms.
  • Surveillance reform would help restore global confidence in U.S.-based technology companies, and combat job-killing localization barriers being pursued by other governments.
  • Reducing the U.S. corporate tax rate – the world’s largest – to the average tax rate of other developed nations is estimated to create roughly 581,000 U.S. jobs for the rest of the decade. 

It’s clear:  a year of action by the president and Congress will mean decades of investment and job-creating action by the U.S. economy.  But it’s important to keep in mind that continued inaction by Congress has costs for our economy and greater uncertainty for our future.  A report by the Peterson Institute found that continued policy inaction and uncertainty by policymakers has added 0.6% to our unemployment rate, which translates to 900,000 U.S. jobs not being created.

President Obama and Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers struck a tone of determined optimism in their respective addresses to the American people – an optimism we share not simply because it’s in our industry’s DNA, but because there is real opportunity before us -- the opportunity for significant policy achievement, and the opportunity for a new wave of innovation-driven economic activity. 

The time for action truly is now.

Public Policy Tags: Trade & Investment, Tax Policy, Workforce, Data & Privacy