Driving the Day 2/8/2011

by Bobby Maldonado

Give or take a few, there were roughly 100 press reports on President Obama’s visit to the Chamber.  All the national papers, blogs, and wires reported on the event, in addition to a number of regional papers.  The Chamber was also very active on the broadcast front.  The speech appeared live on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, Bloomberg, and C-SPAN.  Executive Vice President of Government Afaairs Bruce Josten appeared on Fox Business following the speech.  Chief Operating Officer David Chavern held interviews with NPR and CBS Radio in Los Angeles.  Chamber small business member Harold Jackson appeared on ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer.  Dave Adkisson, Kentucky Chamber President and CEO and a Chamber board member, appeared on PBS’s News Hour.  Tony Hill, a small business member, appeared on Fox Business.  The night was capped off by Tom Donohue’s appearance on Special Report w/ Bret Baier, one of cable news’ most watched programs.

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Driving the Day 2/8/2011

by Bobby Maldonado

Give or take a few, there were roughly 100 press reports on President Obama’s visit to the Chamber.  All the national papers, blogs, and wires reported on the event, in addition to a number of regional papers.  The Chamber was also very active on the broadcast front.  The speech appeared live on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, Bloomberg, and C-SPAN.  Executive Vice President of Government Afaairs Bruce Josten appeared on Fox Business following the speech.  Chief Operating Officer David Chavern held interviews with NPR and CBS Radio in Los Angeles.  Chamber small business member Harold Jackson appeared on ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer.  Dave Adkisson, Kentucky Chamber President and CEO and a Chamber board member, appeared on PBS’s News Hour.  Tony Hill, a small business member, appeared on Fox Business.  The night was capped off by Tom Donohue’s appearance on Special Report w/ Bret Baier, one of cable news’ most watched programs.

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Center for American Progress now blames us for Egypt!

by David Chavern

Reaching a new low, John Podesta’s Center for American Progress has now decided to blame the US Chamber of Commerce for unrest in Egypt!  What’s next – holding us responsible for snow storms in the Northeast and volcanoes in Iceland?  Showing an penchant for international conspiracy theories worthy of Robert Ludlum and the John Birch Society, C.A.P. somehow ties together the Mubarak regime, the activities of an individual who is President of the AmCham in Cairo and John Negroponte into some theory whereby the U.S. Chamber has been repressing democracy in Egypt.  Wow!  The Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg Group have nothing on us.

Podesta’s group seems to live by the old motto “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.”  The truth is that all of the 115 or so AmChams around the world are separate and independent organizations – we don’t tell them what to do and they don’t tell us what to do.  Moreover, we certainly don’t direct the activities of the successful business executives who volunteer to run AmChams – particularly someone with as many commercial, political and philanthropic activities as Mr. Gabr.

AmChams, as a group, have a multi-decade reputation for being credible organizations that successfully represent the interests of their members.  It doesn’t appear that the Center for American Progress will ever achieve the same level of credibility.

Donohue in Davos: Let’s Put America Back to Work

by JP Fielder

U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue took a quick timeout from meetings Davos this week to chat with French 24 this afternoon. He repeated his message from the recent State of American Business address, that there are many unanswered questions that must be addressed before companies will start aggressively hiring. Over the next year, the Chamber’s number one priority will be to turn this economic recovery into a jobs recovery so that we can start putting Americans back to work.

Tjd_france24_davos

Becker Nomination Redux

by Glenn Spencer

Yesterday, chapter two opened in the fight over controversial ex-SEIU lawyer Craig Becker’s nomination to the powerful National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The agency officiates union organizing efforts and investigates unfair labor practice charges for most private sector workers. Becker’s name was among those submitted to the U.S. Senate, and if confirmed he stands to serve on the NLRB until December 2014. Becker’s nomination failed in a bipartisan Senate vote last year, but he was ultimately recess appointed to the agency.
 
Due to his out-of-the-mainstream views, the business community took the rare step of opposing Becker’s nomination last year, and denounced his recess appointment. It did so with good reason. Since Becker joined the NLRB, the Board has initiated procedures to implement cyber-card check, overturn the 2007 Dana-Metaldyne ruling giving employees a vote to overturn a card check drive, and is currently exploring whether to let "mini-unions" of employees with common job classification organize. That case, Specialty Healthcare, could dwarf the impact of the now-grounded card check union organizing bill.
 
This nomination appears to be more payback for organized labor. Fortunately, confirmation is unlikely--as noted, Becker could not win confirmation even in the 111th Congress. It’s clearly time to consider a more balanced and mainstream nominee.

Washington Post Highlights Businesses Speaking Out on Health Care

by Blair Latoff

At a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on the health care law’s impact on jobs, employers, and the economy yesterday, the U.S. Chamber’s witness, Scott Womack, testified that:

The goal of providing health insurance coverage is noble, but the restaurant industry can’t afford the steep fines and mandates loaded upon us by the health care bill. Paying the penalties will be devastating for most…..Congress should repeal the health care law. If that cannot be achieved, I urge you to address some of the major problems with Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This bill is a ticking time bomb that will devastate my industry unless significant changes are made. Therefore I am asking you to introduce and pass legislation that would repeal PPACA’s employer mandate.

To read more about this hearing and the impact the health care law will have on employers, see today’s article in The Washington Post entitled “House Republicans sharpen attack on health-care reform in two Hill hearings."  

Driving the Day 1/27/2011

by Bobby Maldonado

The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report was released at a 10 a.m. today.  The commission's majority placed blame for the crisis on almost everybody.  The commission's dissenting opinion said: “The majority’s approach to explaining the crisis ... is too broad.  Not everything that went wrong during the financial crisis caused the crisis, and while some causes were essential, others had only a minor impact. ... The majority’s almost 550-page report is more an account of bad events than a focused explanation of what happened and why.”  The Chamber's executives immediately responded following the release of the report.  “The report released by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is yet another missed opportunity to produce an objective, non-partisan look at how to strengthen our financial regulatory system in order to prevent the next financial crisis” said David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the Chamber’s Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness.  Lisa Rickard, president of the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform said, “[G]iven the connection of some on the Commission to the securities class action trial lawyers, the end result will undoubtedly be even more job-killing lawsuits—lawsuits that harm investors and benefit only the lawyers who file them.”

President Obama is Right to Consider Medical Malpractice Reform

by Lisa Rickard

Earlier this week, as part of his annual State of the Union address, President Obama expressed his willingness to work with Congress to pass medical malpractice reform legislation in 2011.  He now joins with many members of the new Congress who are already committed to reforming America’s broken medical liability system.

The situation is stark: at a time of rapidly-increasing health care costs, the current medical liability system imposes major expenses on patients, health care providers and taxpayers.  A study released last September in the respected journal Health Affairs estimated the total cost of the U.S. medical malpractice system at $55.6 billion per year.  And it’s not just cost, but quality that suffers when doctors are forced to perform defensive medicine because of lawsuit fears.

So the president’s words were very welcome.  We stand committed to working with him and the Congress to pass meaningful medical malpractice reform in 2011.

Secretary Tom Ridge to Chair U.S. Chamber's National Security Task Force

by Blair Latoff

The Honorable Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and first secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will serve as the new chairman of the U.S. Chamber's National Security Task Force.

Since 2003, the National Security Task Force has brought together companies, industry associations, and state and local chambers that have a direct interest in homeland and national security issues, representing a broad spectrum of the nation's economy and working closely with policymakers in the administration and Congress on enhancing America's security without inhibiting its economic vitality.

"Tom Ridge is an innovative leader and has earned respect for working with people on both sides of the political aisle," said U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue. "He will play a crucial role in advancing a collaborative dialogue that brings public and private sector leaders together to strengthen our nation’s security."

In an exclusive interview with CQ, Secretary Ridge said, “To my mind, its purpose goes with something that I’ve thought all along: that securing America is a shared responsibility. DHS can’t do it alone. You need the private sector. You need the academic world. You need the non-governmental organizations."

Read the full press release.

Driving the Day 1/26/2011

by Bobby Maldonado

President Obama embraced much of the business community’s agenda last night, calling for progress on stalled trade pacts, investments in roads and education, reworking the corporate tax code, and freezing discretionary spending for five years to cut the deficit.  BusinessWeek writes, “[H]e proposed them with his own twist: Instead of reducing corporate taxes, he proposed cutting the rate while closing loopholes so the net effect on the budget would be zero.  The president also called for ending $4 billion a year in tax subsidies to oil and gas producers.  And though he urged Congress to approve a free-trade agreement with South Korea in the coming months, he didn’t give a deadline for pacts with Colombia and Panama.”  The president also called for an increase in U.S. R&D, an end to earmarks,  more investment in infrastructure, and for the simplification of the tax system for individuals.  The president drew clear political lines when he made clear his opposition to a permanent extension of tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, his call for a renewed focus on immigration reform, and a warning against making broad changes in his health care overhaul.  For anyone counting, President Obama said “jobs” 25 times in his speech last night followed by “business,” which he uttered 20 times.  ‘Labor’ was only mentioned once. 


Focus on Jobs 

Washington has taken its eyes off the ball by neglecting America's number one priority--creating the more than 20 million jobs we need over the next 10 years to reemploy the unemployed and to keep pace with a growing population.

Now is the time to get back on track. In order to forestall another economic downturn and create jobs, we must work together constructively to ease uncertainty, unleash private sector investment, and generate real economic growth. We must do the following to succeed:

» Create a Growth and Jobs Tax Policy
» Restore Fiscal Health
» Expand Trade and Export-Driven Jobs
» Rebuild and Expand America’s Infrastructure
» Reduce the Burden of Regulatory Uncertainty