The head of the nation’s largest business lobby took aim Wednesday at President Obama’s economic policies, saying that painful taxes, unsustainable entitlements and a robust regulatory program are strangling the economic recovery.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Tom Donohue unveiled a wide-ranging plan to create jobs through boosting domestic energy production, reforming the tax and entitlement systems and slashing red tape facing the private sector.
Delivering his annual State of American Business address, Donohue scoffed at suggestions that the country’s slow comeback from the 2008 economic crisis is owed purely to the severity of the recession.
“Misguided government policies have also slowed our growth and cost Americans a lot of jobs, and a lot of raises,” Donohue said.
Donohue called for enactment of a sweeping immigration reform, and the repeal or replacement of major provisions of the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.
He vowed to use the Chamber’s political operation to advance its agenda in the election year, putting lawmakers on notice that it will reserve is considerable clout for those who support business-friendly policies.
“In primaries and in the general election, we will support candidates who want to work within the legislative process to solve the nation’s problems — and who understand that business is not the problem, business is a big part of the solution,” he said.
The organization’s legal wing, meanwhile, will ramp up its efforts targeting a host of Obama administration regulations seen as overly burdensome, including ObamaCare's “employer mandate” regulation requiring businesses to offer health insurance to their workers or pay a penalty.
The Chamber will also oppose the Education Department’s “gainful employment” rule, which Donohue said discriminates against private sector colleges and universities.
On energy, Donohue called upon Obama to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and increase access to offshore oil reserves that are currently off-limits to drilling.
He said 87 percent of the nation’s offshore oil supply remains locked up, tempering a boom domestic energy production
“We must have this vital resource,” he said. “Progress has come largely in spite of national policy rather than because of it.”
Donohue’s criticism comes as the president’s allies in Congress tout positive economic signs. Unemployment has dropped to 7 percent following four consecutive months of added jobs.
On Monday, a new jobs report showed that private-sector employers added 238,000 jobs in December.
Still, Donohue lamented that some 21 million people in the United States remain unemployed.
“The American economy has struggled to regain its footing,” he said. “The recovery has been the slowest and weakest since World War II.”