In Annual State of American Business Address, Donohue Outlines How to Turn Economic Recovery Into a Jobs Recovery
WASHINGTON, D.C.—In his annual State of American Business address, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue was cautiously optimistic about the state of the economy and outlined a four-point plan to put jobless Americans back to work.
“We begin 2011 in a lot better shape than we found ourselves last year. The state of American business is improving,” Donohue said, pointing to expectations that the GDP will grow by 3.2% this year. “While the recovery may be picking up steam, it is fragile and uneven. There are many unanswered questions that must be addressed before companies will start aggressively hiring. Over the next year, the Chamber’s number one priority will be to turn this economic recovery into a jobs recovery so that we can start putting Americans back to work.”
“We face an array of potentially serious risks that at any moment could send us back in the wrong direction,” Donohue continued. His speech outlined four immediate priorities that the Chamber will address to boost America’s competitiveness in the global economy:
- Regulatory restraint and reform—Work to reform the regulatory process—to restore some badly needed balance, restraint, and common sense. We will also stand up a new group to tell the story to the American people about the massive costs of excessive regulations on jobs and their personal and economic freedom.
- Expanding American trade—Work to pass the pending free trade agreements and launch a major initiative to educate citizens and policymakers on trade that will clearly link global engagement to American jobs.
- Rebuilding our economic platform—Rebuild America’s economic foundation—the platform our society runs on. Roads, bridges, rail and mass transit networks, airports, and air transport systems must be modernized. Broadband capacity, power generation, and water supplies must be expanded. We can create jobs, reduce our trade and budget deficits, and increase our own security by developing all forms of alternative, renewable, and traditional energy. We will also commence a new project to outline what our nation must do to create and secure a 21st century global supply chain and logistics system.
- Reducing deficits and debt—Support congressional efforts to lower spending. We will make the case for entitlement reform as any plan that fails to tackle these runaway programs is doomed to fail. We will also support efforts by Republican and Democratic governors to challenge public employee unions and their excessive payroll, health, and retirement demands.
In order to deepen the understanding about our nation’s competitive challenges, Donohue announced that the Chamber is going to undertake an analysis of the American business community’s understanding of our strengths and weaknesses and those of our competitors.
“The Chamber is examining, in a factual and objective way, the actions by our government and the actions by the business community that are either moving us forward in the global economy or holding us back,” said Donohue. “We’ll then compare this analysis to what our competitors are doing with the goal of identifying the major factors that shape the decisions of job creators, innovators, and investors—to pinpoint our strengths so that we can build on them and our weaknesses so that we can fix them.”
Donohue began his speech by expressing the Chamber’s shock and sadness over the tragic shootings in Arizona. “Under any circumstance, the violence, injury, and loss of life that occurred are an outrage to us all,” Donohue said. “We are specifically offended by the fact that this rampage was directed at our democracy itself—striking down public servants as well as free citizens who had come to engage in a dialogue and express their views. We are praying for a full recovery for Congresswoman Giffords and the others who were injured. And our hearts go out to the families of those who lost their lives.”
With President Obama scheduled to speak at the Chamber on February 7, Donohue pledged to work with the administration, the new House majority, and Democratic legislators on the Chamber’s priorities over the next year. He also noted the new political realities of getting things done in a divided government.
In the coming weeks and months, Donohue and the Chamber’s leadership will echo this message through various speeches throughout the country. This begins with Donohue’s address before the Economic Club of Minnesota in Minneapolis on January 18.
“No one should expect the Chamber to march in lock step with anyone else’s agenda but our own,” he said. “And our agenda is simple. We will continue to win important policy victories for the business community; we’ll support, protect, improve, and advance the free enterprise system; and we’ll help create good jobs and promising opportunities so the people of our country can reach the American Dream.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.
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