W. James McNerney Jr.
On resolving the financial crisis, the first part of the process—restoring liquidity to credit markets—is already under way. It's still early, but the government appears to be taking the right steps. The new Administration will need to follow through and perhaps accelerate what's been started (possibly adding some short-term economic stimulus activities) and make sure that taxpayers are protected to maintain public support. We in Corporate America also need to acknowledge that there's been a general loss of confidence in the private sector, and we must move more aggressively to improve financial transparency, manage risks responsibly, and improve overall business performance. These steps are needed not only to restore public confidence in the business sector, but to ensure that the government regulatory pendulum does not swing too far the other way—which could have negative repercussions for U.S. competitiveness.
Equal in importance to our economic and financial security is the security and safety of the American people—a responsibility every President throughout history has borne. Continuing to invest in national and homeland security programs that are responsive to current and future threats—even in the face of constrained budgets—will also aid our economic recovery by preserving high-wage jobs that generate additional economic activity throughout the economy.
The third priority—establishment of a national energy policy—is related to the second and is of growing importance. We need an energy policy that includes provisions for improving energy efficiency and conservation, expands domestic energy exploration and production, and develops a wide range of viable alternative energy sources—from greater use of nuclear power to wind, solar, and sustainable biofuels. Individuals will save money, companies will be able to create jobs, and we will improve our economic and national security. The corporate community has important responsibilities in this area as well. We need to make our companies and our products as energy-efficient as possible, because growth must be sustainable for the long haul. It is the right thing to do for our environment, for our stockholders, and for our employees.
Finally, I believe it is very important to our economic future that the next President work hard to expand free, fair, and open international trade. And the first step in that process is to make the case to the American people that trade, properly structured through fair trade agreements that are vigorously enforced, is not something to be feared, but embraced. Exports have been one of the bright spots in our economy, creating thousands of jobs and accounting last year for 40% of our economic growth and 12% of our GDP. U.S. workers are among the most productive and innovative in the world and are ready to compete and win globally. And given the fact that the vast majority of the world's consumers live outside the U.S., it is essential to our future growth and prosperity that we stay engaged globally.
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