The United States must avoid a plunge off the fiscal
cliff, embrace a strong energy policy, invest in infrastructure
and create a business-friendly regulatory environment if it is
going to fully recover and prosper, according to Schnitzer
Steel Industries Inc.s the top executive.
The threat of the fiscal cliff
is creating uncertainty in the business sector, president and
chief executive officer Tamara Lundgren said Monday at
AMMs 6th Annual Steel Scrap Conference in
"This is madness," she said.
"The only reason we are perched out on the ledge is our
legislators walked us out there themselves."
If the country goes over the
cliff, it will permanently lose 6 million jobs by 2014,
according to projections from the National Association of
Manufacturers. "If we lose more jobs, we will have a
permanently unemployed part of our work force, and that will
cost us much more," Lundgren said.
Whats more, the
countrys lackluster energy policy has prevented new
factories and businesses from emerging, Lundgren said. "You
cant grow a business without a reliable affordable energy
supply," she said.
Elected officials need to be
allies and not adversaries of business, as every two
manufacturing jobs create one spin-off job, Lundgren said,
adding that business leaders should insist on an energy
During the presidential
election, both candidates spoke of the need to invest in
infrastructure, Lundgren noted. China invests 9 percent each
year in infrastructure, while Europe invests 5 percent and the
United States invests just 2 percent.
"Neglect takes a toll," she
said. If the country were to invest in infrastructure, it would
create jobs and increase steel demand while improving aging
roads and water systems, she said.
Lundgren also said that
regulatory issues have proven costly and confusing to
businesses. "Creating a predictable and reasonable regulatory
environment might sound like an oxymoron like jumbo
shrimp, but it is our only choice. Uncertainty makes it
impossible to plan ahead," she told the roomful of
The cost of compliance for
business is increasing at a staggering 7.6 percent each year,
Lundgren said. "The burden for business is not merely one (of)
regulation but the sheer volume," she said, adding that the
United States ranks 76 globally in terms of the ease of the
"I am not arguing business
should be free from regulations, but more can clearly be done
to promote adherence to enforce ones we already have. We need a
sensible, predictable regulatory environment," she said.
Lundgren encouraged people in
the industry to become proactive and to contact their
legislators to voice their concerns. "If you wrote one word
down before you leave this conference it would be to
engage. This is our moment to recharge," she said.