Saturday, November 06, 2010

This Isn't Going Well

On Thursday, Michael D. Shear blogged in The New York Times

But Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner this week met with Mr. Donohue to discuss international economic issues. And in his post-“shellacking” news conference Wednesday, Mr. Obama came close to conceding the chamber’s main argument, that American businesses have concluded — wrongly, in Mr. Obama’s view — that his policies are antibusiness.

“I think business took the message that, well, gosh, it seems like we may be always painted as the bad guy,” Mr. Obama told reporters. He admitted that relations with the business community had not been “managed by me as well as it needed to be.”

Mr. Obama did not mention the chamber by name, or refer specifically to the public war of words that has dominated the relationship between the chamber and the White House.

But he seemed to suggest that his often-repeated goal of creating “new rules of the road” for business needed to be better balanced against a new appreciation for the need to buck-up firms that are struggling in the faltering economy.

“And so I’ve got to take responsibility in terms of making sure that I make clear to the business community as well as to the country that the most important thing we can do is to boost and encourage our business sector and make sure that they’re hiring,” Mr. Obama said. “And so we do have specific plans in terms of how we can structure that outreach”....

In his remarks, Mr. Obama hinted at a new direction from the White House that could help reassure businesses.

“I think setting the right tone publicly is going to be important,” he said, “and could end up making a difference at the margins in terms of how businesses make investment decisions.”

Maybe that “new tone” will apply in the war between the Chamber of Commerce and the White House as well.


Good luck with that. In a profile for Bloomberg Business Week, Devin Leonard writes that U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donahue

intends to spend his new political capital by reconfiguring the country's economic policies the same way that large corporations have always wanted to: by cutting taxes, slashing regulation, forging trade deals with foreign countries, and reducing the deficit.

He'd like to start by chipping away at the President's legislative achievements such as health-care and financial reform, which must still be implemented at the regulatory level. In short, the battles between the chamber and the White House are far from over. "Oh, hell no," Donohue laughs. "They are in the second inning" ....

Now, with his strategy having proven effective, Donohue and the chamber are plotting their post-election agenda. A week before the House flipped, R. Bruce Josten, the chamber's silver-maned, Benson & Hedges-smoking chief lobbyist and Mr. Fixit, said that a lot would be unclear after the election, even if the Republicans triumphed. There would be struggles over congressional committee chairmanships and lame-duck shenanigans. But he was certain of this much: The President's change agenda was history. There would be nothing like the Affordable Health Choices Act, no more Keynesian spending. "He is going to have to operate differently," Josten said.

The chamber's chief lobbyist also recommended that the Administration put its support behind a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts. The White House signaled just before the election that the matter would be considered carefully. Josten would also like to see a corporate tax cut and increased federal spending on infrastructure, which would also be a boon to the private sector. The White House has signaled it will mull these over as well.


Even before the election, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Mike Pence, and Michael Steele vowed there would be no compromise. Nevertheless, the day after the election, Barack Obama

offered to sit down with Republican and Democratic leaders to see whether there were areas where they could agree. "I have been willing to compromise in the past and I am willing to compromise going forward," Obama said.


Dustin Ensinger reminds us

Just last month, the Chamber lobbied vigorously to defeat the Creating American Jobs and End Offshoring Act, which would have given companies a two-year payroll tax holiday, reducing the amount of Social Security taxes they would have to pay, for new employees who replace workers doing similar jobs overseas. The bill would have also ended tax provisions that encourage the outsourcing of jobs.

Now, the U.S. Chamber's chief lobbyist, R. Bruce

Josten did offer a consolation prize: He had suggestions about ways the newly humbled White House could cut some deals with the GOP and still find some legislative victories. As he noted, the White House is already working on a trade agreement with South Korea that could be announced as early as next week. That may not endear the President to his union supporters, but the chamber will applaud.

Because if there is always room for Jello, there also is room for destroying American jobs with a trade deal (Ford Motor Company ad below), letting, Dave Johnson explains

Korea export like crazy to the U.S., but not addressing non-tariff barriers that Korea places on bringing U.S.-made goods into their country. (Korea places regulatory and tax barriers to limit imports along with tariff barriers that the trade agreement addresses. So in effect we would be removing our tariff barriers on Korean imports, while they keep their other barriers to our exports.)

Meanwhile, Leonard notes

Donohue and the chamber are plotting their post-election agenda. A week before the House flipped, R. Bruce Josten, the chamber's silver-maned, Benson & Hedges-smoking chief lobbyist and Mr. Fixit, said that a lot would be unclear after the election, even if the Republicans triumphed. There would be struggles over congressional committee chairmanships and lame-duck shenanigans. But he was certain of this much: The President's change agenda was history. There would be nothing like the Affordable Health Choices Act, no more Keynesian spending. "He is going to have to operate differently," Josten said.

At the post-election press conference at which the President offered, yet again, an olive branch to the Party whose primary objective is his defeat, Obama appeared chastened and humbly admitted having been "shellacked."

But the President's adversary- Leonard calls him "Obama's tormentor"- at the U.S. Chamber gloated "You may not know we have our own law firm. It's a public-interest law firm. We sue the federal government of the United States 150 times a year on regulatory issues. By the way, we win a lot."











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