U.S. Chamber says economic growth should be “front and center” in 2013; tax reform can “turbo-charge” growth

This morning, IFA was fortunate to have a front row seat at the annual “State of American Business” event at the headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business association located across Lafayette Park from the White House. The event, which brings together representatives from trade associations representing all sectors of the U.S. economy, sets the tone for the annual lobbying agenda for the business community.

U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue

Chamber President Tom Donohue laid out a series of pro-growth priorities sure to excite anyone in the franchise industry who is frustrated with the ongoing pace of the recovery. According to Donohue, the American Jobs and Growth Agenda would generate stronger economic growth by producing more American energy, expanding American trade, modernizing our regulatory system, and reforming our immigration and visa policies. The agenda also emphasizes the urgent need to address the fiscal crisis with a bold plan that slows the growth of runaway spending, reforms entitlement programs, and overhauls our tax code. According to IHS Global Insight, franchise businesses have been on a slow, but steady, recovery from the recession, and now stand poised to accelerate growth plans if more confidence could be instilled in the economy for existing and prospective franchise investors. As such, Donohue’s comments and the Chamber’s agenda in the year ahead should be welcome news to franchisees, franchisors or prospective franchise investors.

“Economic growth cannot solve all of our problems, but without growth, we will not be able to solve any of them,” said Donohue. “The imperative of economic growth should not be an afterthought. It must be job one. The over-riding objective of this ambitious plan is to generate stronger economic growth in order to create jobs, lift incomes, and expand opportunity for all Americans. America needs big solutions so it’s time to put the smallness of politics aside. We call upon all of America’s leaders in and out of government to put country first.”

Specifically addressing the need for comprehensive tax reform, which is a top priority for IFA, Donohue cautioned lawmakers against using tax reform as a vehicle to continue their reckless spending habits. “Tax reform is not a substitute for spending restraint. It must be done after or concurrent to spending cuts. The right kind of tax reform will turbo-charge our growth, create jobs, and generate more revenues for government at all levels” He warned that the tax increases recently levied on small businesses as a result of the end-of-year fiscal cliff deal will hold back growth in the first part of the year.

“As illustrated by the Chamber’s latest survey of small business members, there is significant uncertainty over health care, regulations, taxes, and deficits,” he said. The Chamber’s Small Business Survey results echo IFA’s latest member survey, which showed the uncertainty of numerous regulatory and public policy challenges were holding back growth.

In IFA’s survey, 64 percent of franchisors report the Affordable Care Act will create some significant uncertainty in long-term planning and healthcare reforms will create significant uncertainty in long-term planning for 71.6 percent of franchisee respondents. More than 10 percent agreed with the statement: “We are no longer confident that our business model is profitable.”

The Chamber forecasts growth of 1.5-1.75 percent in the first half of 2013, with growth accelerating to as high as 2.5 percent in the second half of the year. But Washington “deadlines” in the coming weeks and months, such as the need to raise the debt ceiling and pass a budget, may overshadow growth and will continue to shake the confidence of the business community.

On the bright side, if Congress can address these policies, it will likely accelerate job creation and franchise development across the nation. According to IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira, franchise growth remains slow due to the rising tax burden placed on small business franchisees and the out of control spending by Washington on entitlement programs.

“While we are pleased the industry continues growing at faster rates than other sectors of the economy, we could be growing much faster, creating more new jobs and businesses, if Washington addressed the tax, spending and regulatory uncertainty plaguing the small business community in a meaningful way,” Caldeira said during the recent unveiling of IFA’s 2013 economic forecast for franchising.

To read or watch the full speech, please click here.