Hennebach Lecture: Congress and jobs

According to guest speaker Raymond J. Ahearn, “There is nothing more important than jobs when it comes to economic policy issues for Congress.” Ahearn is currently a member of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), a non-partisan entity located in the Library of Congress, and he works to provide unbiased research for members of Congress through a variety of reports.

During his lecture on October 12, Ahearn described the details of his most recent report to Congress which described the role of the rising worldwide economic powers and their effect the American economy. These rising economic powers (REPs) are countries that have a large population base and a rapidly expanding economy and include nations such as Russia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and China. These countries are currently shifting the balance of global economic power from the United States and Western Europe to a more widespread distribution. With the current economic situation, REPs are becoming emerging players in international finance and are accounting for a rising share of global GDP and global trade. But more importantly, they are competing for jobs as their international markets are booming.

In his report, Ahearn addressed the question of how the US can take advantage of these growing international markets. He proposed several key things the US must accomplish to stay competitive with the REPs.

According to Ahearn, America first needs to increase its exports. Every President since Dwight Eisenhower in 1953 has instituted some plan in order to see a boost in exports. For America to grow, exports are a necessity, and the economic boom among REPs has the potential to provide new markets for American goods. If America wants to take advantage of this, it must increase its efforts at penetrating these markets. This can be accomplished through different trade agreements by lowering tariffs on American manufactured goods and helping them to compete globally.

Secondly, the United States must get its own house in order. This is accomplished through solving the debt problems and fostering a friendly business environment. A solid homefront will build a strong foundation that will lead to the economic success that is desired.

So even though the growth of the REP economies will create more competition to American workers, Ahearn sees it as a “win-win” situation. “If someone else gets richer, it doesn’t make us poorer. The Rising Economic Powers will make the pie bigger for everyone; they will allow hundreds of millions to escape from poverty which is good for us.”

If the US is to remain competitive with REPs, Ahearn said, “We must overcome the political stalemate, deal with the long term fiscal pressures, and maximize our inherent economic strengths.”

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