A To-Do List for America

By Lipman, Joanne | Newsweek, September 19, 2011 | Go to article overview

A To-Do List for America


Lipman, Joanne, Newsweek


Byline: Joanne Lipman

Here's what execs with proven track records think should be done.

President Obama finally gave the jobs speech he should have given on day one of his presidency. Too bad Americans by now have thrown up their hands when it comes to Washington. Unemployment is above 9 percent, and even if all the measures Obama proposed passed--which they won't--that wouldn't fully solve our problems. So we went outside the Beltway and gave some innovators and business leaders a challenge: you fix it.

We get the irony--corporate chiefs arguably helped fuel the crisis in the first place. Now they're flush with cash, sitting on a hoard of nearly $2 trillion, and CEO pay is soaring. Yet business leaders are as infuriated as the rest of us with the gridlock--and if nothing else, they know how to get things done. They offered us a boatload of specific policy suggestions, many of which already have some bipartisan support, from tax reform to more visas for skilled workers to investment in hiring.

We were surprised and, frankly, encouraged by some of their solutions. Washington, you need to read this.

Steve Ballmer CEO, Microsoft

My fix: Here are three: (1) Increase exports by freeing up the backlog of free-trade agreements with South Korea and parts of Latin America. (2) Improve education in the sciences to make our grads more competitive. (3) Permanent corporate-tax reform.

Robin Chase Founder, Zipcar

My Fix: Make cars smarter. Find more uses for the wireless devices that we already use to pay tolls and get directions. We could install a "Cinderella app" that won't allow a 16- or 85-year-old to drive past curfew, or a "Prius meter" to keep tabs on energy efficiency.

Robert Greifeld CEO, NASDAQ OMX

My fix: I've got several that already have some bipartisan support. Issue more visas for high-level workers to keep foreign advanced-degree students in the U.S. Stop taxing U.S. companies on their foreign profits since most have already been taxed overseas.

Mindy Grossman CEO, HSN, Inc.

My fix: Create jobs through "in-sourcing," moving foreign call centers back to the U.S. and creating work-at-home jobs. Also, more big companies should partner with small-scale businesses, which tend to be more innovative and able to develop talent in niche specialties.

Howard Stringer CEO, Sony

My fix: A bipartisan effort to bolster confidence, which in turn will spur consumer spending. Politicians should focus on stimulating the mood to create an environment in which people are beginning to feel comfortable and are willing to spend.

T. Boone Pickens Texas oilman

My fix: There are 8 million 18-wheelers in the U.

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