By Scott Peters 11/19/2013
Over the past century, the United States has maintained its position as the global leader in innovation. This is due, mostly, to the optimistic and adventurous spirit of American entrepreneurs. But it also due in part to the investments in science and technology our nation has historically made, which support the research and creativity needed to pursue new ventures.
However, these investments have been declining over the past decade as lawmakers look for ways to reduce spending and cut the debt. So it should be no surprise that in that same decade, America has been losing its competitive advantage. However, with 500,000 small businesses still being created on average each month in 2012, it is clear to me that, with the right focus, we can get it back.
Recently, I introduced a resolution in Congress that would deem the third Tuesday of each November as 'National Entrepreneurs' Day,' sending the message to entrepreneurs across the country that Congress is serious about supporting them. But this is only a step in the right direction. To reestablish our undisputed global leadership in innovation, we need to reform both our tax code and our outdated immigration system. This is the important, hard work our constituents elected us to do.
In many corners of Congress, there is eagerness in both parties to tackle tax reform. There is broad support for tax reform that simplifies the corporate tax code, keeps a sustainable safety net, and allows us to maintain investments in basic scientific research and innovation that all see as necessary to our country's long-term success. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses spend more than one hundred hours on tax compliance each year -- valuable time that could be focused on their venture.
Majorities in each chamber agree that we have a broken immigration system and are long overdue for a fix. Comprehensive immigration reform would reduce the deficit and help grow the economy. According to Forbes, more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children and now employ more than 10 million people worldwide. The smartest, most creative students from other countries who come to America to get an education should be able to stay and start their company here. At the same time, we should develop our homegrown talent by supporting education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
It's time that partisanship took a backseat to doing what's right for the 54 percent of young Americans who, according to the Kauffman Foundation, want to start a small business at some point in their future.
In San Diego, our local innovation economy is a thriving industry employing thousands of highly skilled workers. The inspiration for the 'National Entrepreneurs' Day' resolution was a leader in our region's science and research organizations, Duane Roth, who tragically passed away in June from injuries sustained in a bicycling accident. His commitment to promoting the entrepreneurial spirit, fostering new ventures, and providing steadfast leadership to our business community significantly contributed to San Diego's movement into the top tier of cities for innovation.
Given the role that entrepreneurs can and will play in our country's economic growth, Congress should honor entrepreneurial leaders like Duane by supporting incubators, crowd-funding initiatives, STEM education, and tax and immigration reform. If we are to maintain our position as a global economic leader, we've got to end the govern-by-crisis mentality that sets us back instead of moving us forward.
The status quo for economic growth clearly isn't good enough. Supporting the entrepreneurial spirit is our best chance for economic progress. Let's use 'National Entrepreneurs' Day' as the chance to find bipartisan agreement and move toward resolving some of the bigger issues that, once solved, will unleash the economic potential of America.