by: Heyecan Veziroglu, December 20, 2007

At the Independent Women’s Forum at the Marriot on December 5, 2007, panelists from business and academic circles identified the most significant challenges facing America and suggested rational, free-market policies to enhance U.S. competitiveness in the global economy. “Government shouldn’t keep its old-fashioned forms,” said Dr. Elaine Kamarck from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. “In our era, governments talk about citizens as customers.”

“Today, we’ve reinvented government. Social security system is an example of reinvented efficient bureaucracy,” she argued. “Productivity is brought to government services.”

“The old-fashioned bureaucracy is not efficient to have productivity.”

John Engler, the president & CEO of The National Association of Manufacturers pointed out that “The life blood of the manufacturers is remarkable productivity.”

“We’ve got to have an energy strategy,” he insisted. “We have to be smarter about how to use energy.”

“Otherwise, this could be a great threat to our economic stability.” He emphasized the significance of innovation in the 21st century.

He gave statistical data and said: “Among Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, Turkey’s corporate tax rate in 2006 has been 30%, whereas in 2007 it was 20%.”

Stephen Moore, Editorial Board Member from The Wall Street Journal, stressed the high rate of taxes and remarked “We are the only country in the planet that is raising tax rates. All others reduce taxes! …”

Karen Tandy, VP of Global Government Relations from Motorola, stated that the U.S.’s strongest performance is in the role of innovation. “That’s what our competition comes from,” she explained. She went on to say that that is where “the federal funding side comes from.”

“We should keep the technology talent in the U.S.,” she argued. “The limitation on HB1 visas is limited to 65000 per year,” she pointed out about the documentation designed to import technical experts.

“We have to invest to drive innovation at home.” Angela Antonelli, Director of Federal strategy & Operations from Deloitte Consulting, LLP, offered some observations about education in America. “Based on the intellectual capital, we have to build a focus on 21st century work force to find skillful people,” she observed. “There is a lot of concern about the American educational system.”

“Students are not proficient in their math and science classes,” she noted. “We cannot rely much on foreign workers to be players in the workforce particularly in finance and business sectors.”

Dr. Robert Atkinson, President, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, stressed the point that tax policies need to focus on enterprises. “We need to invest in IT equipment investments,” he said. “That’s the engine we have in the U.S…”

“Health care reform must be a top priority,” Dr. Isabel Sawhill from the Brookings Institution said. “It should cover the uninsured; improve the efficiency of the system, bring modern technology to the system.”

“We need much more research on competitiveness; we need more coordinated care, and better image of chronic diseases,” she contended. “We need to learn the prevention of diseases and be careful about health and life styles.”

“We need a few more radical policies on Medicare system but there is a strong resistance to income relating benefits,” she asserted. “Health care is highly valued for most people.”

“Technology is helping us to live longer and healthier, The public sector is going to require higher taxes….” Dr. Atkinson said “We are one of the few countries that are based on employer based health system… This is a huge political challenge.”

Heyecan Veziroglu is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run jointly by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.