Regaining America's Competitive Edge

Gov. John Engler

Gov. John Engler (Photo credit: New America Foundation)

“Washington has failed to deliver” on its promises of bipartisanship and “created uncertainty and chilled business investing and hiring,” said Business Roundtable President John Engler in a speech at the Detroit Economic Club yesterday.

Engler’s comments carry particular weight since he is a well-known Republican, and served as Governor of Michigan from 1993-2001. During his time as Governor, Engler was head of the Republican Governors Association and was widely considered as a possible Vice Presidential pick by 1996 Republican Presidential Candidate Bob Dole.

Engler pointed to the European debt crisis, an economic growth slowdown – especially in China – and the uncertainty looming over fiscal cliff negotiations and pending tax increases as the main factors affecting CEOs’ confidence. The Business Roundtable’s latest CEO survey, published last month, found that business leaders’ confidence on expectations for hiring, capital investment and sales experienced the third largest drop in 10 years.

Assessing America’s competitiveness in the global economy, Engler said “there’s no reason America can’t win” and regain its competitive edge, but policymakers must learn that “[t]he most successful countries are cooperating with business and putting policies in place to win jobs and investment.”

Engler called on Congress to put forth a short-term plan for extending expiring tax cuts, increasing the debt ceiling and backing away from defense sequestration. Yet even if Congress can achieve success on these three short-term items, Engler says “the real challenges” of comprehensive tax reform, entitlement spending, and generational debt “will still be waiting.” Compromise is essential to solving these challenges, says Engler, because “[o]ur present course is unsustainable and unfair to future generations.”


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