By Ian Swanson - 01/12/10 02:44 PM EST
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue warned the U.S. faces a double-dip recession because of the taxes and regulations under consideration by the Democratic Congress and President Barack Obama.
“Congress, the administration and states must recognize that our weak economy simply could not sustain all the new taxes, regulations and mandates now under consideration. It’s a sure-fire recipe for a double-dip recession, or worse,” Donohue said in a speech providing the Chamber's outlook for 2010.
If the tax cuts are allowed to expire, “we will likely end up with even bigger deficits and greater economic misery,” Donohue said.
Many tax lobbyists expect Congress to extend the cuts for people with lower tax rates, but to allow higher rates to be reimposed on those in the top bracket.
He also faulted Obama and Democratic lawmakers for not doing more to create jobs.
Donohue criticized a separate tax on banks floated by the administration on Monday, and said that the rationale for any tax increases would be increased spending, not lowering huge budget deficits exacerbated by the recession.
“We are talking about a massive tax increase in a very weak economy — a tax increase whose clearly intended purpose is not to reduce the deficit, but to pay for more spending,” he said.
He also promised the Chamber would be more involved in the 2010 midterm election than it has been in any other before, and will hold accountable lawmakers who vote against the group's priorities.
Donohue’s speech follows a year in which the nation’s leading business lobbying group consistently butted heads with the Democratic White House, particularly on Obama’s keystone issues of healthcare and climate change.
The Chamber stumbled at times. Several high-profile members, including Apple, left the Chamber because of the group’s opposition to Obama’s pursuit of climate change legislation. Nike quit the Chamber’s board of directors over the same issue, publicly complaining that the business group was not representing all of its members on the issue.
In October, pranksters pretending to be Chamber officials held a fake press conference announcing the group had shifted its stance on climate change. Chamber officials trekked to the National Press Club after a wire service issued an incorrect story based on a fake news release put out by a group known as The Yes Men.
On healthcare, Donohue said the legislation under consideration by Congress would do nothing to rein in costs and was a prescription for “fiscal insolvency and an eventual government takeover of American healthcare.”
He said the House climate bill would raise energy costs and kill jobs.
Donohue also blasted the administration’s policies on trade, hitting it for not sending to Congress pending deals negotiated by the Bush administration with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
“We need a bold and aggressive trade policy, something we don’t have today,” he said.
The Chamber is predicting the economy will grow at a rate of about 3 percent in 2010. The business lobby has set out a goal of creating 20 million new jobs over the next 10 years.
This article was updated at 10:16 a.m.