From the Wall Street Journal:
During last year's "Jobs Summit," President Obama said he was open to any good idea to get the economy moving again. Today he should be especially so, since Washington's many monetary and fiscal policy decisions have not been able to spur the robust growth or job expansion that we all would like. And yet there is a simple idea—the trillion-dollar elephant in the room—that has apparently been dismissed for no good reason.
One trillion dollars is roughly the amount of earnings that American companies have in their foreign operations—and that they could repatriate to the United States. That money, in turn, could be invested in U.S. jobs, capital assets, research and development, and more.
But for U.S companies such repatriation of earnings carries a significant penalty: a federal tax of up to 35%. This means that U.S. companies can, without significant consequence, use their foreign earnings to invest in any country in the world—except here.