Advisor and Former Chief Executive Officer, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
January 20, 2021
An Open Letter to the President, Vice President, and Congressional Leaders
To President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy:
At the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we know one of the most powerful and life-changing phrases is, “You got the job.” For countless Americans, that sentence holds the promise of a new start, a new chapter, and a new pathway to the American Dream. And it represents the opportunity that businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovators breathe into communities across the nation every single day.
Over the past few months, Americans made their own hiring decisions. To each of you, they delivered that same powerful message: “You got the job.”
Now more than ever, it’s impossible to overstate the responsibility that comes with your roles or the gravity and urgency of the work ahead.
Most notably, the pandemic is still raging across our country, and American families and businesses continue to experience an uneven economic recovery. Meanwhile, a contentious election season, recent riots at our Capitol Building, and efforts to undermine our democratic institutions have sprouted as symptoms of a more severe affliction that ails our nation: Polarization has sowed division and mistrust, and many Americans have lost faith in the institutions that are meant to serve them.
You face historic day-one challenges, but you do not face them alone.The U.S. Chamber and the American business community stand ready to help. Last week, we convened more than 10,000 business advocates across all 50 states and 120 countries for the Chamber’s annual State of American Business. We discussed the resilience of the American business community and the steps our elected leaders must take to help create a broad-based economic recovery. Together, we must reignite our economy, reassert our long-term leadership and competitiveness, and restore good governance as we chart the way forward out of these crises. And we are fundamentally optimistic that we can do just that if we work in partnership.
We must start with pandemic relief sufficient to help our nation’s industries, businesses, and workers make it through to the other side of the crisis. There is no question, businesses could not have persevered through the challenges of the past year without the leadership and partnership of our government. But the pandemic is far from over, and our economy is in need of further support. We welcome the introduction of the American Rescue Plan and applaud the focus on vaccinations and use of masks—as well as on economic sectors and families that continue to suffer. The Chamber will work with you in good faith to enact timely, temporary, and targeted measures that will help restore our economy, and we will soon share our thoughts on potential additions to the packages, as well as which proposals fail the timely, temporary, and targeted test or would slow the economic recovery.
Together, we also can stimulate the economy in a significant way if we finally do the long overdue and broadly supported work of rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. It’s the number-one way to raise productivity, create jobs, and drive up incomes in a hurry. In an evenly split Senate and a closely divided House, infrastructure can unite both parties around an issue that has historically had bipartisan support—and build goodwill on other meaningful policies moving forward.
There will be many opportunities for progress if building consensus, compromise, and cross-aisle collaboration are prioritized starting on day one. From funding rapid workforce training programs and reforming our immigration system to meet the needs of our modern economy, to reengaging with the world through a bold trade agenda and fostering a tax and regulatory environment that will allow our economy to recover, the tasks ahead will not be easy, and they cannot be accomplished alone.
At the same time, the Chamber strongly cautions against a return to excessive regulation or anti-competitive taxes. The historic strength of our pre-pandemic economy was made possible in large part because of pro-business policies and regulatory relief that unlocked growth. Businesses have displayed their resilience over the past year by staying open, adapting operations, and continuing to serve their customers despite challenges few could have imagined before March. But many remain on the brink and hiking taxes or heaping on new regulations that do more harm than good will throttle our economic recovery and tilt the scale against the very businesses that are leading our nation out of this crisis.
There won’t be consensus on every issue, and the Chamber will fight vigorously against policies that will hinder—rather than help—a widespread economic recovery. But just because we may have different opinions doesn’t mean we are on different teams. All Americans should be committed to rallying our country around the common cause of our nation’s recovery and the shared goal of a stronger, brighter future. We look forward to working with you as well as our member companies, coalition partners, and the broader business community to unleash a bright new era of inclusive growth, widespread opportunity, and boundless innovation across our nation.
Congratulations again. You got the job.
Now let’s get to work.
CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
About the authors
Thomas J. Donohue
Thomas J. Donohue is advisor and former chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Suzanne P. Clark
As President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Suzanne Clark heads strategy, government relations and market innovation to support member companies and businesses.