Making Things Work

Apr 14, 2009

The U.S. Chamber represents business, and business likes things that work efficiently and effectively. When it comes to public policy no one political party has a monopoly on good ideas, nor does a single good idea represent a complete solution – you have to pick and choose, define and re-fine. So though it may startle many political watchers that we have found common ground with the Obama administration, it really shouldn't be all that surprising. Above all, we want the economy to work and we want the American people to have work; and we are going to work with everyone to make that happen. From the Politico:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has found a surprising number of places to agree with President Barack Obama’s agenda and is negotiating the specifics in daily meetings with the Treasury Department, the West Wing and Capitol Hill...Thomas Donohue, the chamber’s gregarious president and chief executive officer, said in an interview with POLITICO that his formidable grass-roots and paid lobbying efforts are aimed at shaping, rather than killing, legislation. "We’re not out there dumping on the president of the United States," Donohue said. "We’re out there supporting him. But some of the things may be ... complicated."

On tighter regulation of the financial markets, for instance, Donohue acknowledged that "the current regulation of the current system [is] layered and layered and layered and layered and confusing" and needs to be simplified. "I don’t worry about what’s been proposed, because I like it," Donohue said. "That’s the Christmas tree. I worry about what they’re going to hang on it."
Even on health care reform, business is no longer fighting the concept but has agreed to some of the measures that an acceptable law might include..."And when we got to health care, we said, 'All right, here’s five or six or seven things that everybody can agree to: wellness, children’s diabetes and obesity, IT [information technology] ... . And then here are a lot of things [there are] going to be big debates about, and that’s reimbursement rates and who’s paying and all that.'"
At a tough time for business, the Chamber is thriving, both because economic issues are front and center and because corporations are worried about what Washington is going to do to them and thus feel like they need Donohue’s muscle more than ever. "Everything is the economy," Donohue said. "That isn’t true all the time. Economies can go up and down — you know, a percent here and 2 percent there, and nobody gives a damn. [But now] we’re in a very serious global economic situation. So in that environment, what I’m most optimistic about is we have a young, dynamic president who is all excited. And where he has been able to hire people, for the most part they’ve been far more experienced ... than I may have expected. I may not agree with them, but [they’re] serious people."
Donohue said the Chamber is studying how different parts of Obama’s agenda relate to each other. "We’re doing a hell of a lot of things at the same time on a lot of complicated issues," he said. "And we hope we can all do the most reasonable and thoughtful thing for the country and for my members and for your readers and for everybody else."

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