With the slow pace of job growth and unemployment at 14.9 million people, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is initiating an Internet-based ad campaign and its first-ever mobile texting initiative.
The effort is aimed at educating voters about the importance of free enterprise and helping them evaluate candidates running for public office based on their views on the economy, taxes and whether they support a regulatory and legislative environment that will help business create jobs.
We are going to spend a significant amount on resources on various Internet and texting-related activities, said Stan Anderson, managing director of the year-old Campaign for Free Enterprise initiative, which hopes to create 20 million jobs over the next 10 years. Our belief is that we will reach several million voters.
At the heart of the campaign, unveiled Sept. 9, are five questions for political candidates. The chamber's FreeEnterprise.com website allows voters to send the questions directly to candidates running for office this fall:
* Do you believe that our free enterprise system is currently threatened?
* Do you believe that tax increases hurt job creation?
* Do you think that the growth of government at all levels and the deficit that follows negatively impact job creation?
* Would you deal with the debt and deficit issues through increasing government revenue or decreasing government spending?
* Do you believe that the uncertainty resulting from pending tax increases, higher government deficits and more government regulation will hurt the economy?
Tepid job growth in the past year as the U.S. has emerged from the recession prompted the initiative, said Martin Regalia, chief economist and senior vice president of the U.S. Chamber.
We are way, way short of where we need to be to get this economy moving, he said. We now need to create 293,000 jobs per month through September 2012 to match the recovery of the slowest jobs recovery post World War II.
To help businesses and boost jobs, President Barack Obama has proposed strengthening and making permanent the research and development tax credit for businesses, allowing them to write off 100 percent of equipment investments through 2011; as well as a six-year, $50 billion infrastructure spending program.
But that isn't enough, say business groups like the chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington.
The $50 billion infrastructure proposal could be offset by new taxes on the energy sector, [and] a new tax increase on businesses will not help spur job creation or economic growth, said NAM President and CEO John Engler.
Anderson offered a similar view. We think that the business tax cuts [set to expire at the end of the year] should be maintained for a period of time until the economy improves and that there should be a reduction in corporate taxes, Anderson said.
There are significant questions about the direction of this country that American voters will have to decide this fall, he said.