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Issues

America’s food supply is abundant, affordable, and among the world’s safest, thanks in large part to the efficiency and productivity of America’s farm and ranch families. The agricultural sector is also a major driver of the U.S. economy, providing jobs for more than 21 million American workers, or15% the total U.S. workforce. To maintain its role as a global leader in agriculture, the United States must ensure that federal food regulations are efficiently developed, based on sound science and the best data available, consider actual health risks, and avoid unnecessary burdens to the nation’s farms, 97% of which are owned by families.  
The United States is incurring unsustainable levels of debt. By 2050, interest costs on the debt alone are projected to be more than four times what the federal government has historically spent on education, R&D, and infrastructure – combined. Federal entitlement programs are the main drivers of runaway government spending. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid cost $1.6 trillion in 2013 and will soar to $3 trillion per year in just ten years. None of these programs are projected to be financially solvent 20 years from now. Without reform, economy-crushing new taxes or painful benefit cuts - or both – will be needed to keep the programs alive. The Chamber is leading an honest and fact-based conversation about entitlement spending and bringing together stakeholders to facilitate reform efforts.
Nothing is more important to America’s economic future than the development of a workforce with the skills and knowledge required to compete in the global economy. That development starts in the classroom and extends the length of a working person’s career. The reality, however, is that America’s K-12 education system is not adequately preparing students for careers or postsecondary education, and worker training programs are not, in many cases, teaching the skills demanded in the marketplace. The result is a persistent skills gap that is impacting the nation’s competitiveness. In an effort to close that gap, the U.S. Chamber advocates for rigorous academic standards that are arealigned with college and career, accountability for students’ academic achievement, support for teachers,and options for parents and students. The Chamber also supports policies to increase college access and success, affordability, and transparency. To ensure that transitioning or unemployed workers acquire the skills they need to succeed, the Chamber supports streamlined, local worker training programs that are based on the needs of employers and accurate and timely local labor market data. In addition, the U.S. Chamber supports the employer community by improving its engagement and partnership in education and workforce reforms. 
America is poised to become a global energy powerhouse. With the right policy framework, the energy sector can create even more jobs, generate much needed federal and state revenue, and move the nation toward greater energy self reliance, thus improving our competitiveness and national security. To take full advantage of America’s opportunity, we must allow greater access to our oil and gas resources, recognize the important role of coal in our economy and work to make it cleaner, and develop and deploy advanced technologies, including alternative energy sources, nuclear energy, and energy efficiency. Developing a competitive energy workforce, streamlining the permitting process for energy infrastructure projects, and resisting regulations that burden the economy and threaten the reliability of our electricity supply are also necessary if America is to fulfill its energy potential. The Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy recently launched its new, comprehensive plan to make Energy Work for US. Learn more at EnergyWorksForUS.com.
An avalanche of environmental regulations has made it increasingly difficult to build and develop in the United States. Rules that severely limit activities and development in critical habitat areas; increasingly stringent air quality mandates; restrictions on energy production, mining, grazing, and forestry on federal lands; and an expansion of permitting requirements and restrictions on virtually all U.S. lands and watersheds have conspired to deter development, growth, job creation, and prosperity. The problem rests not only with the regulations themselves, but also the process by which they are formulated. Thirty-five percent of all major regulations are issued without a public comment period, and in many instances, activists and agencies use court-ordered consent decrees to force the development of regulations, often on extremely tight deadlines, that they could otherwise not achieve through the regular rulemaking process.   The Chamber is working to make the regulatory process more transparent, agencies more accountable, and regulations more cost effective. Atop its regulation reform agenda is the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would ensure cost-benefit analyses of proposed rules and allow for judicial review of those analyses and increase scrutiny for the most costly regulations.
The federal government should not produce goods and services for itself or others that can be produced at a lower price, with higher quality, and a faster delivery schedule by private businesses. The government saves billions of tax payer dollars and sustains the nation's competitive edge in industries such as defense, information technology, and management when it partners with and invests in private sector companies. However, a complicated and inflexible federal contracting process with costly administrative burdens deters many businesses from bidding on contracts. The U.S. Chamber works to streamline the acquisition process, ensure a fair and open procurement system, and encourage the government to rely more on the private sector for the goods and services it needs.
Capital goes where it is welcome, where it feels safe, and where it has a reasonable opportunity to earn a profit.  To maintain and advance its global leadership in capital formation, the United States must have the most fair, efficient, and innovative capital markets in the world. We can’t achieve this without a modern and coherent financial services regulatory system. In many ways, the government is moving us further away from well-functioning, well-regulated capital markets by producing a maze of overlapping, contradictory, and duplicative financial regulations. The U.S. Chamber is fighting for the kind of financial rulemaking that protects consumers and investors, encourages reasonable risk taking, doesn’t constrain innovation and growth or allow special interest groups to advance their agendas at the expense of all investors, and is coordinated with other economies and among the many domestic agencies that issue financial regulations.    
Increasingly, our constitutionally protected right to free speech is being stifled through fear, intimidation, and overregulation. Labor unions, shareholder activists, and anti-business policymakers have long attacked speech by businesses. Such efforts include attempts both to prevent business speech—by driving the business community’s voice out of the political process and the public debate—and to force it. Examples of overreaching in forced speech include improper mandates that require businesses to disclose sensitive and confidential information, present government messages as their own, and disparage their own products or services. The U.S. Chamber is aggressively working to fend off such infringements on the business community’s free speech rights.
The Chamber has long supported health care reform that addresses the uncontrollable costs of our current health care system, improves the overall quality of health care, and expands meaningful coverage to the uninsured. In light of the serious consequences of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that are affecting employers and employees alike, it is crucial to continue to evaluate reform options that decrease the current strain on our nation’s job creators. As the recently released report from the Chamber’s Health Care Solutions Council delineates, further reforms are necessary if we are to realize lower costs, innovative and high-quality care, and better health for all Americans. A sustainable health care system must build upon the successes in the private sector and reinforce the strengths of the employer-sponsored health care system instead of imposing mandates, new taxes and penalties, and limiting flexibility. 
America has had the opportunity to grow and thrive because we have attracted and welcomed the most talented and the hardest working people to our shores. The U.S. Chamber has collaborated with a variety of odd bedfellows including faith organizations, law enforcement, and ethnic groups to build a movement for commonsense immigration reform that strengthens border security, expands the number of visas for high- and lesser-skilled workers, makes improvements to the federal employment verification system, and provides an earned lawful status for the undocumented with no future bar to citizenship. The door to the American dream must always remain open.
The U.S. Chamber is leading the charge to improve the quality of America’s infrastructure—whether it’s transportation, energy, or water networks—all of which directly impact our ability to compete in the global economy. By modernizing our national infrastructure, we can improve commercial efficiency, increase U.S. competitiveness in the global economy, and create much-needed jobs in the near term. American businesses of all sizes and our government must work together to improve the security of the infrastructure of our online economy and protect our cyber systems from intruders and attacks.    
Our economy is driven by the need to innovate, create, and develop new ways to serve consumers—and industries that rely on intellectual property (IP) play an essential role. IP-intensive industries—everything from music to manufacturing—account for nearly 35% of total U.S. GDP and support 40 million American jobs. They are responsible for more than 60% of all U.S. exports, to the tune of $775 billion. Add it all up, and America’s IP is worth more than $5 trillion. None of this is possible without strong IP protection. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its Global Intellectual Property Center believes that American inventions and intellectual property fuel our economy, create jobs, and improve our daily lives through better access to medicines, increased trust in brands, and greater consumer safety. 
With 95% of the world's consumers living outside the United States, we have extraordinary opportunities to create growth and jobs through the expansion of international trade and investment. Agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) can help small and large businesses reach new customers by opening foreign markets. None of this is possible without passage of Trade Promotion Authority, which requires the White House and Congress to work together in trade negotiations.  The U.S. Chamber’s international team works every day to build bridges to promising markets abroad, to tear down the barriers that shut U.S. exports out of foreign markets, and to secure a brighter future where international commerce generates economic growth and job creation at home.
Employers are being bombarded with new regulations and enforcement tactics from the various federal departments that cover the workplace.  The Chamber’s Labor, Immigration and Employee Benefits Division, along with the Workforce Freedom Initiative, focus on advancing employer concerns and interests in a wide array of policy debates.  From pushing back on flawed OSHA proposed regulations, to leading the fight against Department of Labor and NLRB actions that would enhance unions’ ability to organize, to exposing the unions’ role in the efforts to impose a $15 “living wage,” the Chamber is the leading employer voice on matters affecting workplace policy and these divisions of the Chamber ensure that the employer view will be well represented.
America has the costliest legal system in the world. The total tort liability price tag for small businesses is an astounding $105 billion annually. Frivolous lawsuits remain a serious drag on our economic recovery and undermine true justice for legitimate victims, while the threat of lawsuits increases uncertainty, stifles investment and hiring, and even bankrupts some companies. The Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform and the National Chamber Litigation Center work to end lawsuit abuse and ensure that businesses receive the fair, efficient, and consistent justice system they deserve. 
A vibrant economy requires a safe and secure homeland. American business have a multifaceted stake in a strong national defense and homeland security policies that protect both our citizens and our vital assets like infrastructure, supply chains, and cyberspace. The U.S. Chamber’s National Security and Emergency Preparedness Department works with a broad coalition of private and public sector partners to find balanced risk-based solutions that strengthen security, reduce the cost of doing business, and provide regulatory certainty.
A modern, balanced, transparent regulatory system would give businesses the confidence they need to hire, invest, and innovate. But our current system is outdated, opaque, and enabling a regulatory onslaught that stifles economic growth. The U.S. Chamber is working to improve the rulemaking process, while seeking redress in the courts when regulators overstep their bounds. It is also working to advance legislation that would reform the system by restoring checks and balances, allowing public participation, upholding the rule of law, and ensuring good governance.
American businesses of every size maintain a long-held commitment to providing voluntary benefits that support the welfare of their workers. As Americans live longer, healthier, and more active lives, retirement security becomes a greater concern—particularly with the uncertainty surrounding government programs like Social Security. The private employer-provided retirement system has contributed significantly to the retirement needs of millions of seniors. The Chamber and its members are committed to continuing the success of the system and ensuring the long-term retirement security of Americans.
The U.S. Chamber is committed to comprehensive reforms to the American tax system that will foster economic growth, increase American global competitiveness, and attract international investment and innovation. A smarter, streamlined tax system would allocate taxpayer dollars more effectively and unleash the power of American businesses—large and small—to create jobs. To that end, the Chamber is advancing a pro-growth tax agenda that would lower rates for corporations and individuals alike, broaden the base, and simplify compliance. We must also establish tax policy on a permanent basis so businesses have the confidence and certainty to expand, hire, and invest, and so they can compete in the global economy.
Technology is the thread that runs through a competitive economy, driving multiple and diverse industries and impacting myriad policy issues that are vital to commerce and communication. Technology-based industries and businesses create tremendous growth and opportunity in the U.S. economy and are essential to competing in an interconnected world. Outdated laws and regulations impede U.S. technological innovation and deployment. The U.S. Chamber promotes market-based solutions, policies that foster investment in technology research and deployment, and balanced regulatory treatment of technical platforms.
The U.S. Chamber and its Let’s Rebuild America initiative is leading the charge to maintain, modernize and expand America’s public infrastructure—especially its surface, air, and marine transportation—all of which directly impact our ability to compete in the global economy. By making our infrastructure more efficient through technology and better planning, preventing burdensome and costly regulations, insisting on government transparency and performance standards, and advancing funding and financing solutions, we can save money and grow the economy, increase U.S. competitiveness in the global economy, and create much-needed jobs in the near term. 
Inbound travel and tourism are some of the top drivers of growth and jobs in America. When foreign visitors spend their money here, it’s counted as an export. When business visitors from around the world conduct business here, they strengthen America’s role as the center of innovation and global commerce. We need to pave the way for more of the world’s visitors to come to America hassle free and eliminate bureaucratic barriers to inbound travel, such as visa processing delays and endless wait times at customs. Let’s make sure that when tourists are ready to travel and businesspeople are ready to make deals, they come to the greatest destination of them all—the United States.