New investments in transportation infrastructure and passage of pending bilateral trade agreements are key steps Washington policymakers should take to create more jobs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said today.
“The current policies coming out of Washington are not creating economic growth,” said Martin Regalia, the chamber’s chief economist. He said the Obama administration and Congress “need to come together to remove the barriers to job creation and open up new markets.”
The chamber, the nation’s foremost business lobbying group, said it will send the president and Congress a letter next week with specific policy suggestions to create jobs. But in an annual briefing ahead of Labor Day, it outlined some of those steps.
It said passage of three trade deals with South Korea, Panama and Colombia “will not only save 380,000 jobs, but they will create thousands of new ones” in the U.S. Those deals have been completed but are stalled as President Obama and congressional Democrats insist on also approving trade-adjustment assistance for workers displaced by foreign competition, while Republicans resist that action.
The chamber has long pushed for increased transportation project funding, and for Congress to raise fuel taxes to pay for it. “Investing in infrastructure will rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges and put idle construction workers back to work,” the chamber said.
That statement came while Obama was challenging Congress in a high-profile Rose Garden announcement to quickly extend Highway Trust Fund and Federal Aviation Administration programs that expire next month, and head off a loss of jobs and transportation revenue that would come if those programs are disrupted.
Joining the president were David Chavern, the chamber’s chief operating officer, and Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, in a rare show of policy agreement between those top labor and business groups.
The chamber in its policy ideas also called for curbing federal regulations that it said stifle business growth, and for tapping more home-based energy supplies rather than depend so heavily on imported oil.