Working Together for the Economy
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New York Times coverage of our press briefing this morning:
If the United States Chamber of Commerce was upset about the strong gains that the Democrats made in this week’s elections, its president, Thomas J. Donohue, was not showing it....Mr. Donohue said he was eager to work with President-elect Barack Obama and the Congress to enact a large-scale stimulus package to help create jobs and end the economic downturn. Mr. Donohue said a major new stimulus package was needed, the sooner the better, to help revive the automobile, housing and construction industries.
"Restoring the nation’s economic health must be our top priority," Mr. Donohue said. "The U.S. Chamber stands ready to work with the new administration and Congress on measures to spur growth and jobs by restoring credit and confidence throughout the economy."
Mr. Donohue explained the Chamber’s campaign strategy: "From the very start our No. 1 goal was a United States Senate where it would still be possible to put a winning coalition together to advance good legislation and, if necessary, to maintain a filibuster to stop the most damaging anti-business proposals."
Mr. Donohue advised Mr. Obama that it would be unwise to move quickly to enact some labor-backed legislation, including bills that would make it easier to unionize and would require companies to give employees paid sick days. He said such legislation would hurt companies when the nation’s business community is struggling and laying off many workers because of the financial and economic crisis.
"Labor unions, trial lawyers and others will be expecting quick and frequent political payback for their efforts," Mr. Donohue said. "Theirs is a long wish list that should alarm every business, small and large, that hopes to prosper, profit and compete in a global economy."
R. Bruce Josten, the chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs, indicated one area where the chamber might agree with organized labor. He said the chamber would seriously consider backing legislation that would extend unemployment insurance, at least in states like Michigan with especially high unemployment rates.
"The president has one barrel of challenges," Mr. Donohue said, "and he should read the doctor’s oath to make sure in the first 100 days he does no harm."