U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue delivered his annual “State of American Business” address this morning. Donohue was also emphatic about the problem of overregulation of the American economy:
We must rein in excessive regulations and reform the regulatory process. At the federal level alone, regulations already fill 150,000 pages of fine-print text and cost Americans $1.7 trillion a year. Many of these rules are necessary and business strongly supports them. Yet in recent years, we have seen an unprecedented explosion of new regulatory activity. Furthermore, the administration is likely to turn increasingly to the regulatory agencies now that getting legislation out of Congress could be more difficult. The resulting regulatory tsunami poses, in our view, the single biggest challenge to jobs, our global competitiveness, and the future of American enterprise.
In particular, Donohue came out swinging against Obamacare:
For example, the new health care law creates 159 new agencies, commissions, panels, and other bodies. It grants extraordinary powers to the Department of Health and Human Services to redefine health care as we know it.When the bill passed, Americans were promised that it would lower costs and allow anyone who liked their existing coverage to keep it. Instead, costs are rising and health plans are being forced to change.Officials have already raised the cost estimates of the bill and have acknowledged that the savings earmarked for Medicare will never materialize.In some states, Medicare Advantage participants are being told their plans will no longer be available.Workers who have been banking on employer-based coverage when they retire are being told not to count on it. And as premiums rise, thanks in part to the law’s new mandates, many companies are thinking about ending their employer-based plans, and moving workers into government-run exchanges.By mid-December, HHS had already granted 222 waivers to the law—a revealing acknowledgement that the law is unworkable. And, with key provisions under challenge in the courts by states and others, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.Last year, while strongly advocating health care reform, the Chamber was a leader in the fight against this particular bill—and thus we support legislation in the House to repeal it. We see the upcoming House vote as an opportunity for everyone to take a fresh look at health care reform—and to replace unworkable approaches with more effective measures that will lower costs, expand access, and improve quality.
Also in his remarks Donohue praised the Obama administration's attempts to adopt a more business friendly tone. The Chamber was also cautiously optimistic about the prospects for economic growth in the coming year. The Chamber is forcasting economic growth of 3.2% in 2011 with between 2.4 million to 2.6 million new jobs created.
Finally, Donohue warned against deterioriating trade relations with China, saying "starting a trade war with one of our fastest growing export markets is not the answer." Note that Obama just signed a bill on Friday that contains a "buy American" provision that force the Pentagaon to buy solar panels made in America, even though China dominates the market. Chinese President Hu Jintao visits America next week, and the move is unlikely to be received well.