US Chamber chief calls for regulatory reform to fuel economic growth

US Chamber of Commerce Pres. Thomas J. Donahue called for federal regulatory relief and reforms as a primary component of a new American Growth Agenda. “There is no justification for the regulatory overkill we have seen over the last 8 years,” he said. “An unelected fourth branch of government—the regulatory branch—is holding our small businesses back while imposing unnecessary costs on larger companies too.”

Incoming US President Donald J. Trump could begin to eliminate economic burdens imposed by his predecessor’s executive orders starting Jan. 20, Donahue said. “We urge him to act immediately and continually. Congress can also move quickly on some of the recently imposed regulations by using the Congressional Review Act,” he said in his 2017 State of American Business address.

The federal regulatory process itself must be reformed, Donahue said. “For several years, the Chamber has been leading the fight for the Regulatory Accountability Act, which would fundamentally transform how agencies implement major rules,” he said. “It also would begin to restore the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches. It would be the first major update to how federal agencies write rules in 70 years.”

Donahue said the 115th Congress, in its opening days, has made it clear that passing regulatory reform is a top priority. “We could not be more pleased that years of hard work may finally be paying off,” he said.

The leader of the nation’s largest business association said energy presents a huge American growth opportunity. “Lawmakers should work quickly to rescind and replace the restrictive energy policies of the current administration so that we can unleash more growth and more jobs for Americans,” he said.

Modernize infrastructure

Producing more energy also will require improved transportation systems, Donahue said. “We can generate more growth and jobs by making America’s infrastructure the best in the world,” he said. “That means taking on large-scale projects—airports, seaports, pipelines, an expanded power grid, broadband, air traffic control, secure and efficient borders, and intermodal transportation links—that help the entire country,” he said. “To get this important work off the ground, we need a permitting process that works quickly and efficiently.”

He said that while private sector financing can and should play a much greater infrastructure development role, a sustainable, long-term federal funding source also must be part of the equation. “For years, the Chamber put an idea on the table: a modest increase in the federal gasoline tax, which hasn’t been raised in 24 years,” Donahue said. “It happens to be the simplest, fairest, and most straightforward solution.”

He said the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act also needs to be reformed, along with the Volker Rule and other domestic requirements that he said burden the financial services industry.

“At this moment of significant transition for our country, the American business community is optimistic about the year ahead, and also realistic about the hard work that will be required to make our optimism a reality,” Donahue said.

“We’re optimistic, because the housing market is healthy, energy prices have stabilized, inflation is under control, stock markets are performing well, and consumer and business confidence have improved,” he said. “Most of all, business is optimistic because we see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact major reforms that could transform the American economy from a low-growth to a high-growth economy.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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