Partisan bickering in Washington isn't just bad for national harmony.
It's bad for business.
And though a survey released last week reflected some rising hopes of major-corporation CEOs for a strengthening economic recovery, it also showed their continuing concerns about the roadblocks presented by political gridlock.
As Business Roundtable Chairman Randall Stephenson, who runs AT&T, put it: "CEO expectations for overall economic growth are well below our economy's potential."
Along with a large majority of the other Business Roundtable CEOs, Mr. Stephenson cited tax reform, immigration reform and international trade agreements as ways to facilitate a more powerful recovery.
Unfortunately, both Congress and the president have long failed to advance those crucial causes.
The CEOs again called for the lowering of corporate tax rates - and the closing of numerous corporate tax loopholes. They maintain that they are at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace due to America's high rates.
Lingering worries about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act add to the uncertainties facing major employers - and to their reluctance to hire more workers.
And the doubts induced by Obamacare aren't limited to its mandated insurance costs. They extend to confusion about the administration's proliferating (and in some cases constitutionally questionable) edicts over which elements of the law it will and won't enforce - and when.
The CEOs did sound encouraged by the congressional spending accord, crafted late last year by budget chairs Paul Ryan of the House and Patty Murray of the Senate, that averted another costly federal shutdown.
Yet the big-business big shots, like other Americans who are paying sufficient attention, rightly retain doubts about Washington's willingness to make the hard calls required to assure the nation's long-term fiscal stability.
And the bottom line of the CEOs' all-too-revealingly modest expectations: They predict that the U.S. economy will grow by a mere 2.4 percent this year - far below the level needed to generate a bona fide hiring surge.
Meanwhile, Monday's Financial Times reported that for the first time in the last 36 years, the United States has a lower labor-participation rate than the United Kingdom. That spells even more serious trouble for the taxpayers' future capacity to fund government at all levels.
Clearly, our economy will not shift back into high gear until the depressing modifier is deleted from this "jobless recovery."
Just as clearly, if Congress - and the president - want to put America back to work, they should heed the pleas of both big and small business interests to make Washington an ally, not an enemy, in the mission to fully revive national prosperity.
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