Fred Smith, chairman and CEO of FedEx Corp., will use an address in Arlington on Tuesday to call on Washington to “get back to business — now, not seven months from now, after Election Day.
“Stop fighting, and decide,” Smith says in remarks prepared for a luncheon speech, “Renewing America’s Economy,” to the National Association for Business Economics.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is among the other speakers at the 2012 NABE Economic Policy Conference. After Smith’s address, CNN’s Christine Romans will lead a moderated discussion with the audience.
Here are excerpts from Smith’s remarks:
“Milton Friedman said it like this, ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch.’ For decades now, politicians from both parties have said, in effect, ‘there is too a free lunch,’ and many Americans were happy to believe it. And even fewer elected leaders today have been willing to speak the truth to the public about the situation we’re in, because they know their opponents will slice and dice their comments, misrepresent them in attack ads, and personalize it to boot. Even with our dysfunctional politics, however, I see faint signs moving in the right direction. Slower than many of us would like, but I’m hopeful.
“There are three issues I believe we have to address successfully if we’re really going to be able to renew America’s economy. First is reducing America’s heavy reliance on imported petroleum. The second is combating overregulation. The third is revitalizing American business and trade through tax policy, education, and training. … “A common thread in addressing all these problems comes from something John Maynard Keynes wrote many years ago: ‘The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.’ Cass Sunstein, now heading the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, with President Obama’s support, is trying to reduce unnecessary regulations in our economy. I wish him well, because it’s a huge task. But again, there are hopeful signs.
“One idea is creating an independent group of highly qualified people to help break political deadlocks, much like the Base Realignment and Closure Commission prodded Congress to shut down some military bases. Another idea comes from Kansas: they’ve created an ‘Office of the Repealer’ that aggregates complaints and suggests repeals to the governor and legislature. Ideas like these have merit, but lots of folks make their living creating and implementing new regulations, in both government and industry. They are not going to give that up easily.
“So we can’t underestimate what’s involved in improving in this area … nor can we walk away from it. Left alone, over-regulation will only get worse. It doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me that some of the fastest growing sectors of the American economy are the newest ones. Could that be, at least in part, because there hasn’t been time to write too many regulations for them yet? Think about the incredible products and services coming out of the tech sector that have reinvented how we do so many things every day, and multiplied the things we can do. … “The failure to tackle the issues I’ve just discussed — energy security, reducing unnecessary regulation, and business taxes, trade and training — will mean that the average American will have an eroding standard of living in years to come. But we can reverse that trend if we come together to create more meaningful opportunities for Americans to work, build businesses, and create jobs.
“I think it’s time to follow the advice of one of the greatest Americans, General George C. Marshall, who said, ‘Don't fight the problem, decide it.’ Let’s all tell our leaders to get back to business — now, not seven months from now, after Election Day. Let’s take an absolutely positive attitude toward serving the American people by working together to renew America’s economy. Stop fighting, and decide.”
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