Business Roundtable president John Engler said Tuesday that if the country doesn't reform its tax codes and relax industry regulations, all Americans will be paying sky high gas prices and facing an even worse economy.
"California is America if we don't change. That's the scary thought," the former Michigan governor said. "We can see the future -- just look to California. It ought to scare everyone in America. No one would want to go there."
Engler spoke at a "Conversations with Power" panel discussion with U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue, National Association of Manufacturers president Jay Timmons and National Retail Federation president Matt Shay.
The panelists argued for extending the Bush tax cuts, lessening manufacturing regulations and reforming the immigration system. And the men hammered home a familiar theme: Washington gridlock has created uncertainty that has stymied economic growth.
"Often we're held up today by decisions that simply aren't made," Engler said. "In Washington, we don't seem to be able to work through anything. ... (The) national government has got to stop being so much of a barrier and an obstacle."Despite their pleas to end gridlock, none of the speakers seemed ready to compromise. Rather than conceding ground now, Donohue said leaders should wait to see what happens on Election Day.
"The bottom line is, we're going to first see who wins. That's going to tell you a hell of a lot of stuff, in the House, the Senate and the White House. Then we're going to figure out what marbles we have to play, and then we're going to try and make it happen," Donohue said. "I just think we're much better served talking about the issues, not talking about what we're going to give up."