Congress

Congress should restore funding for the International Labor Comparisons (ILC) program at the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BLS’s International Labor Comparisons program adjusts foreign data to a common framework, allowing one to compare the traded sector health and competitiveness of the United States against that of other countries. The ILC data provides complete and comparable time series for extremely useful indicators including manufacturing output, hours, compensation, and productivity, as well as labor force, employment, price, and industry statistics. Funding for the ILC program was terminated by the 2013 sequestration, yet this data is critical to understanding U.S. economic competitiveness, and should be restored by Congress immediately.

Congress should streamline regulatory compliance procedures for companies.

The length of time and amount of money businesses must spend navigating the complex regulatory permitting process is a serious disincentive to invest in traded sector industries in the United States. The Department of Commerce should establish a one-stop shop to help companies navigate the complex U.S. regulatory framework and expedite the permitting process. It should also develop an online “Turbo Regulation” application that allows companies to complete the required “paperwork” in an easy to fill out Web form over the Internet.

Require Congressional approval of “economically significant regulation.”

Business regulatory compliance costs U.S. businesses tens of billions of dollars annually. To help address this, the Administration should increase industry’s participation in the federal rule-making process, which would likely help reduce the complexity of regulatory compliance, emphasize cost/benefit analysis, and restrict the executive branch’s impulse to “legislate by regulation.” Moreover, Congress should consider passing the “Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny” (REINS) Act, which would require both houses of Congress to affirmatively approve, and the President to sign, any “economically significant regulation,” defined as any administrative rule with a projected impact to the U.S. economy exceeding $100 million, before it becomes law.

Congress should amend countervailing duty law so that unfair currency manipulation will be taken into consideration when calculating countervailing duties.

Market forces, not government intervention, should set currency markets, yet too many nations—led by China—manipulate their currencies to achieve competitive advantage. To address this, Congress and the President should sign legislation that would require retaliatory tariffs on nations found to have misaligned currency. Further, Congress should amend countervailing duty law so that unfair currency manipulation will be taken into consideration when calculating countervailing duties

Congress should review export control policies that inhibit U.S. exports.

While the Obama Administration’s Export Control Reform Initiative has begun the effort to implement common sense reforms to streamline and improve the nation’s export control system, more needs to be done. In particular, the government should remove outdated U.S. export control restrictions, especially unilateral burdens placed on widely available ICT products or software. For instance, the United States could remove performance-based controls on commercial scalar computers and associated technology, because access to computing power is so widely available that U.S. export controls on commercial computers are no longer effective and undermine U.S. technology competitiveness and national security. The United States could also remove encryption controls on products and components that are, or will be, widely available or deployed, do not contain encryption as their primary function, or are not peculiarly responsible for creating a military- or intelligence-related advantage.

Congress should update the charter of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and provide it more resources to address the realities of modern-age state capitalism.

CFIUS is an inter-agency committee authorized to review transactions that could result in control of a U.S. business by a foreign entity (“covered transactions”), in order to determine the effect of such transactions on the national security of the United States. Current CFIUS regulations state that examiners must review covered transactions on a case-by-case basis. But because the threat to both the U.S. defense industrial base and the U.S. industrial base overall is systemic, the CFIUS charter needs to be updated to address the realities of modern-age state capitalism—particularly the threat from SOEs—by allowing reviewers to assess and gauge systemic threats and examine covered transactions in a broader context. Congress should also increase the time period permitted for an initial CFIUS review and also better equip CFIUS with additional personnel and financial resources to support more thorough reviews.

Congress should authorize the Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank to provide loan assistance to SMEs and to firms competing against subsidized foreign competitors.

Congress should authorize the Export-Import Bank to go beyond providing export credit financing by leveraging the resources of the Bank to help create domestic manufacturing jobs. In particular, Congress should allow the Bank to use $20 billion in unobligated authority to lend directly to domestic manufacturing companies that are in competition with subsidized foreign competitors (e.g., competitors who receive subsidies in the form of grants, subsidized loans, special tax treatment, beneficial land use, etc.). The loan recipients should be able to demonstrate how the funds would support expanded manufacturing activities and employment in the United States.

Congress should raise the Export-Import Bank’s authorization limit to at least $200 billion.

In May 2012, President Obama signed Congressional legislation that reauthorized the Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im Bank) for three additional years while raising its lending authority by 40 percent to $140 billion by 2014. While this is an important step in the right direction, the reality is that foreign competitors continue to invest substantially more in their countries’ export credit agencies (ECAs) as a share of GDP than the United States does. For example, in 2010, Brazil and China provided ten times more and Germany, France, and India all provided at least seven times more export credit financing to their exporters as a share of GDP than did the United States. To adequately respond to increasing foreign export credit competition, Congress should raise the Ex-Im Bank’s authorization limit to at least $200 billion.

Congress should Reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to ensure that citizens have a right to privacy for their electronic data whether it is stored at home on a device or remotely in the cloud.

ECPA was enacted in 1986 and has not kept pace with the advancement of technology. For example, there are different levels of protection afforded to the privacy of an individual’s data based on where the data is stored and how long the data has been stored. Where possible, the privacy of an individual’s communication should be the same regardless of the type of technology that is used to facilitate this communication.

Congress should divert funds earmarked for the federal Electric Vehicle Tax Credit to provide more investment in energy storage R&D.

To more aggressively fund battery innovation, the key barrier to affordable and viable electric vehicles, Congress should shift funding earmarked for the EV federal tax credit and instead boost funding for battery R&D at ARPA-E, the Battery Innovation Hub, and the National Labs.
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