The head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants to double U.S. exports and rebuild transportation networks and other infrastructure as part of an eight-point business policy agenda in Washington.
Thomas J. Donohue, the Chamber's president and CEO, made the remarks in a speech to the group's board of directors Nov. 17, which is holding a policy meeting at its Washington headquarters.
Donohue directed the Chamber to spend $50 million in the recent election to help get favored candidates elected, most of them Republican. Then he attended international economic meetings last week in South Korea, where he said his team worked closely with President Obama's administration to try to complete the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.
Outlining the Chamber's policy agenda, he told his board that "we're prepared to join with President Obama, his administration, and both parties in Congress to achieve these goals." Those include attacking the federal debt by reshaping tax policy and entitlement programs, and resisting "a regulatory tsunami" from Obama that Donohue says is "the biggest single threat to job creation."
Donohue spoke with The Journal of Commerce in September about how to pay for infrastructure investment.
The board was also scheduled to hear remarks from Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and U.S. Trade Representative Ronald Kirk, as well as House Speaker-to-be John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
Donohue said a "pro-America trade agenda that creates American jobs" also needs to convince the U.S. public "to embrace openness and global engagement." So the Chamber plans to launch a campaign to "educate citizens and policymakers on trade and clearly link global engagement to American jobs."
He did not detail a separate plan to double exports, but the Chamber has supported President Obama's plan to reach that goal within five years. Other trade policy measures, Donohue said, should include trade agreements with other countries, attracting foreign investment and immigration reform.
For the U.S. physical infrastructure, he said major improvements are needed in transportation, energy, water and broadband networks. "Roads, bridges, rail and mass transit networks, airports and air transport systems must be modernized. Broadband capacity, power generation, and water supplies must be expanded. Taken together, these projects will create a lot of jobs." he said.
The Chamber has long supported raising federal fuel taxes to fund upgrades to transportation systems, but it also resists tapping transportation funds for new purposes.
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