US Chamber has own job agenda

WASHINGTON (AP) — Putting a business imprint on the debate over jobs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday issued an open letter to Congress and to the White House calling for a series of measures designed to increase employment, including greater oil drilling, quicker road and bridge construction and temporary corporate tax breaks.

If enacted, the chamber estimates the steps could encourage corporations to spend much of the nearly $2 trillion dollars that have accumulated on their balance sheets and generate more than 6 million jobs by 2013, and even more in ensuing years.

The chamber is looking to influence job creation proposals just days after a bleak government employment report showed no net job growth in August and four days before President Barack Obama delivers an economic speech to a joint session of Congress.

Chamber President Thomas Donohue released the seven-page letter as the first step in a campaign to draw attention to the chamber’s proposals and influence Washington policymakers.

The campaign will encourage business leaders across the country to contact members of Congress and the White House to prod them into passing job creation legislation.

Donohue identified six job creating initiatives:

• Offering reduced tax rates to corporations on profits earned overseas, a move that the chamber says would encourage multinational corporations to bring as much as $1.2 trillion to the U.S. economy, and by temporarily reducing the tax rate companies pay on the sale of capital assets.

• Passing pending trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama, modernizing export control measures and adopting changes in patent law to protect intellectual property.

• Increase oil and gas exploration to levels in place before the Gulf oil spill prompted a moratorium on offshore drilling permits, expand oil and gas exploration on federal lands and approve a $7 billion, 1,700-mile oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

• Congressional approval of transportation, aviation and water resources programs that finance road, bridge and airport construction. Those programs are mostly paid for with gasoline taxes or other user fees.

• Facilitate tourism by promoting American travel, streamlining visa applications and speeding up security screenings for low-risk travelers.

• Provide regulatory relief for industries, including a moratorium on rules that are deemed to have a significant economic impact until the economy has improved and employment has grown.

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