White House ‘disappointed’ by business rhetoric

In a letter to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the White House said Wednesday that it was disappointed by recent criticism from business associations.

In the letter, signed by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, the two top aides say the business community and the Obama administration agree more often than they disagree.

“While we may not agree on every single issue, we should always remember that there is much that we agree on and that we are all working toward the same goal of putting Americans back to work and getting our economy back on track. The stakes are far too high for us for to be working against one another,” Emanuel and Jarrett say in the letter.

“That is why we were surprised and disappointed at the rhetoric we have heard from some in the business community — rhetoric that fails to acknowledge the important steps this administration has taken every single day to meet our shared objectives.”

In the letter, the aides remind the chamber that the trade group supported the stimulus package. They credit the recovery effort with saving or creating 3.5 million jobs and said it help turn the corner on the economy, with six months of private sector job growth.

The letter was in response to an open letter the chamber sent to President Obama and Congress on Wednesday. In that letter, the business association said new laws and regulations being proposed and passed by Capitol Hill and the White House were creating uncertainty for investors as well as hurting America in the global marketplace.

“Through their legislative and regulatory proposals — some passed, some pending, and others simply talked about — the congressional majority and the administration have injected tremendous uncertainty into economic decision making and business planning. In the process, we are also eroding our competitive position globally, as other nations take steps to cut taxes, reduce regulations, and restrain the appetites of government,” the chamber letter says.

In response, Emanuel and Jarrett say Obama has taken several steps to ensure job growth as well as cut government spending. They mention several policies, such as his initiative to double U.S. exports in five years, including tax cuts in the stimulus package and establishing the debt commission to help bring down the national deficit. The two aides also say that the new healthcare reform law, which the chamber lobbied heavily against, will bring $100 billion in savings over the next decade.

Emanuel and Jarrett say in the letter, however, that White House will not accept “a return to the lax regulation of the financial industry” or let oil-and-gas companies fend off “needed changes to the outdated regulations that are partially responsible for one of the worst environmental crises in American history.”

The chamber and other business groups have opposed the financial services reform bill and have warned against over-regulation in the wake of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

“We know that the Chamber of Commerce may have a different approach to some of these issues, but we also have different responsibilities,” Emanuel and Jarrett say in the letter.

“Your responsibility is to your constituent organizations, and ours is to look after the health and safety of the American people and the national interest. Sometimes that leads to disagreements, but it should never prevent an open, respectful and healthy dialogue, and we look forward to pursuing that with you in the months and years to come.”