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Unfinished Business

The party nominating conventions in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. — not to mention Hurricane Isaac — have temporarily diverted the political world’s attention from important unfinished business in Washington. But with the clock ticking on the 112th Congress, there’s urgent need for lawmakers to pass bipartisan legislation and for the Administration to take measures that would improve US competitiveness and job creation.

They can start with steps to bolster the country’s innovative capacity: First, make permanent the R&D tax credit so US companies can better plan short-term and long-term investments in the kind of research and product development that spurs economic growth. Second, ensure that America has the world’s best and deepest bench of human capital. In addition to improving STEM education, that requires streamlining the H-1B visa process, which is mired in outmoded bureaucracy and is inadequate for today’s technology environment.

Next, Congress and the Administration can take steps to open overseas markets and expand trade in IT products and services — first, by pushing for cutting-edge intellectual property protections in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and second by ratifying the US-Russia Free Trade Agreement.

The list goes on. For example, it is critical for Congress to press forward with legislation that will bolster America’s cybersecurity capabilities.

These need not be partisan issues, and there is still time to provide leadership on them this year rather than kicking the can down the road for the next Administration and the 113th Congress.

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