Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Chamber President and CEO Suzanne P. Clark – in the annual State of American Business address – today urged government to reject partisan gridlock, pursue an actionable agenda to strengthen America, and give businesses the best opportunity to succeed.
“Business demands better from our government because when it comes to Washington, the state of American business is fed up,” said Clark. “The polarization, gridlock, regulatory overreach, and inability to act smartly and strategically for our future is making it harder for all of us to do our jobs and move this country forward.”
“We need a government that works. A government that rejects gridlock and chooses governing. A government that can partner with the private sector on our biggest challenges and can engage globally to advance America’s interests, and the world’s. A government that limits itself to the work only it can do — no more and no less.”
Agenda for American Strength
Clark called on Congress to begin work on an Agenda for American Strength that can “help us not only navigate the present moment but also steer our country to the brighter, stronger future that we expect — and future generations deserve.”
Clark outlined a forward-looking, aspirational agenda to strengthen our country in five key areas: building, people, energy, global leadership, and the rule of law. She stressed that progress can be made on national priorities immediately through practical, actionable steps, and highlighted the following key actions that Congress and the Administration should pursue this year:
- Pass a permitting reform bill to deliver on the investment made in infrastructure;
- Secure our nation’s border, protect Dreamers, and increase the number of employment-based visas;
- Fix worker shortages by improving access to childcare and incentivizing work;
- Accelerate permitting for new American energy exploration and production, finalize a legally required 5-year program for offshore leasing, and make it easier to build energy infrastructure;
- Work in partnership with the private sector to achieve climate resilience through innovation;
- Resume free and fair trade negotiations and pursue new deals;
- Tackle head-on the challenges with China, while maximizing the benefits America can and must derive from continuing to do business with the world’s second largest economy in areas consistent with our national security and values;
- End lawsuit abuse by going after litigation funders; and
- Enact policy changes to help law enforcement and prosecutors make our communities safe and fight organized retail crime.
Equally important, Clark noted, is what government should stop doing: instituting a government-knows-best approach that burdens American businesses with overregulation and micromanages our economy.
Fighting Overregulation through the Courts
“The unprecedented regulatory overreach has accelerated over the past two years,” said Clark. “When I gave this speech last year, I pledged that if government didn’t stop getting in the way through overregulation, we would lead the fight to stop it. And that’s why the Chamber sued the FTC, the SEC, and the CFPB last year. And we won’t hesitate to do it again if that’s what’s needed to protect business interests, preserve innovation and competition, and position our economy for growth.”
“Our message to our partners in government today is very simple,” said Clark. “Do your jobs, so we can do ours. Make government work, so business can keep working … so companies of all sizes can keep doing the things that society needs, expects, and trusts us to do. America is a great and capable nation, and together, we can do the big thinking and take the smart steps to secure the future we deserve and strengthen this country that we all love.”
Viewpoints from Business and Government
Following the keynote address, the event featured interviews with business and government leaders.
"We should be very proud of the strength of the U.S. economy,” Nasdaq Inc. Chair and CEO Adena T. Friedman said. “We've been able to withstand some very disruptive events over the last three years, and we continue to demonstrate a lot of resilience in our economy. I think that we have to be very careful to protect that resilience going forward."
“ reminded us of the power and resilience of travel,” Marriott International Inc. CEO Anthony Capuano said. “If you look at the forward bookings through the holiday season, [you’ll see] really strong and compelling numbers … so we’re really encouraged.”
Meanwhile, two members of the U.S. House of Representatives echoed Clark’s call to break the partisan gridlock to achieve meaningful results for American families and businesses.
“We've got the goal of breaking through Washington's dysfunctional partisanship to deliver results for America,” said Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio). “In business, you don't get to change the rules every two years … it's important that we work with members of the other side to develop a roadmap for America. That is essential.”
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) agreed with the Chamber’s Agenda for American Strength call for new trade deals, immigration reform, and permitting reform.
“There’s possibility and promise for any of those three priorities. I think immigration reform is the most pressing and urgent of those priorities, and by extension, hopefully the first of those priorities that we can make progress on,” she said. “We’ve already seen positive steps forward that, to me, really indicate that our country is ready and at a point where we’re able to take action.”
Ahead of Thursday's event, the Chamber released a State of American Business Data Center, which uses 12 economic indicators to analyze the health of American businesses and the economy. The data outlines the economic challenges facing the businesses community and reinforces the need for government to pursue solutions over gridlock.
See the full text of Clark’s speech here.