Despite the pandemic economy and deepening partisan divisions in Washington, the chief executive officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce thinks he has a way for everyone to move forward.
In his annual State of American Business speech, Thomas Donohue is calling for a stepped-up investment in infrastructure projects nationally, as well as new workforce training, and trade reform.
“Our lawmakers should enact a fiscally and environmentally responsible infrastructure package that focuses on urgent needs like roads and bridges, modernizes our critical networks, and upgrades and expands technology like broadband,” Donohue said.
A comprehensive infrastructure proposed by a President Biden and approved by Congress, would not only raise productivity, but also “create jobs and drive up incomes in a hurry.”
Donohue added that such legislation, if passed, could bring with it an unexpected benefit: “It might build some goodwill for bipartisan progress on other priorities.”
The Chamber chief also wants to see more funding for training programs based partly on the theory that the pandemic economy has somewhat altered what jobs are needed and where.
“Our lawmakers should fund rapid training programs to connect the unemployed with jobs in new sectors,” Donahue remarked.
“Some of the best-paying sectors, such as health care or financial and professional services, have more job openings than available workers,” he continued. “If we can do this right and do it quickly, we will improve the living standard for millions of Americans and get our economy growing even faster.”
Warning that Chamber members will go to battle against any Congressional attempts to raise taxes or pass new regulatory legislation, Donahue added that the country needed to “reengage with the world through a bold trade agenda.”
Calling for an end to trade wars and new tariffs, which he said has hurt farmers and manufacturers, Donahue said the U.S. should take on a stronger role working with organizations like the World Trade Organization and the World Health Organization.
“At the same time, we also have to confront the unfair trade and industrial policies that China uses against U.S. companies,” Donahue added. “We must work with our allies to stand up to China, while also pursuing new negotiations with Beijing to protect our intellectual property.”
The Chamber boasts a membership of more than 300,000 businesses, the vast majority of which are small businesses. It is thought to be one of the most powerful lobbying presences on Capitol Hill.
By Garry Boulard
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