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Obama Reaches Out to Chamber of Commerce: 'Not Every Regulation Is Bad'

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President Obama reached out to the U.S. business community on Monday in a speech where he promised to make sales calls for American products and cut burdensome regulations, while asking companies to recognize they have responsibilities to workers and consumers.

The speech is part of the Obama team's attempt to demonstrate that he is not anti-business, and that he wants to create jobs by encouraging firms to use their cash on hand to "get in the game." It also sets a conciliatory tone as he sends his budget to a hostile GOP controlled House next week.

Obama walked the block from the White House to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters -- a building he can easily see from the White House residence -- flanked by his two top ambassadors to corporate America: senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, and Chief of Staff Bill Daley, who, as a top executive at banking giant J. P. Morgan Chase worked closely with the Chamber.

Wisecracked Obama to the Chamber audience -- noting the Chamber is his neighbor -- "if we had brought over a fruitcake when I first moved in, we would have gotten off to a better start."

The Chamber is a major player in several ways, including being a major funder of Republican candidates and causes. According to the non-partisan Sunlight Foundation, the Chamber spent $32.15 million in the 2010 mid-term election cycle, most going to GOP candidates -- the biggest source of non-party campaign cash.

Obama, in pressing for Chamber cooperation, stressed that he was looking for common ground. He repeated what he's been saying for years to labor and business: that there is no turning back the clock and that U.S. companies have and will continue to send jobs to China, India and more recently Brazil. But American business can find new markets with newly developed middle classes in these countries.

"These forces are as unstoppable as they are powerful," Obama said. But "....if we're out there selling and we're out there hustling, there's no reason why we can't do a lot better than we're doing right now when it comes to our exports."

Obama told the Chamber he has:

-- Ordered a government wide review of tax code rules and agency regulations and will "fix' rules that stifle business growth.
-- Ordered agencies to find ways to make regulations more flexible for small businesses.
-- Ordered a cutback of paperwork.

The president also said he wants to:

-- Upgrade transportation and communication networks.
-- Invest more in education.
-- Reform the patent system.
-- Propose a permanent bigger tax cut for research and development.
-- Reorganize the 12 agencies that deal with U.S. exports to make it easier to reach global markets.

Obama said U.S. businesses should help recreate a country which those hit hard by the recession may not remember, saying "This is a place where you can make it if you try." He asked companies to keep a "social compact" and spend some of the nearly $2 trillion U.S. business has on hand. "So I just want to encourage you to get in the game."

The president said he will "go anywhere, any time, to be a booster for American businesses, American workers and American products. ...And I don't charge a commission."

While making these peace offerings, Obama said American business, on the flip side, needs to acknowledge that "not every regulation is bad. Not every regulation is burdensome on business."

He also lectured on what he said were the "mutual responsibilities" of government and business, most centrally hiring more U.S. workers. With unemployment at 9 percent and more for the past 20 months, the jobless rate is a major threat to Obama's 2012 re-election bid.

He gave some examples: drug companies once argued that the creation of the Food and Drug Administration would destroy their business; car companies worried that mandatory seat belts would be the "downfall" of the industry and that child labor protection laws were once denounced as "communistic." None of that ever happened.

Obama's signature health care law is under attack, with Republicans in Congress pledging to repeal it, even though the Democratic Senate -- and Obama's veto power -- makes that an impossibility for now. Still, the GOP is trying to dismantle and de-fang the law and Obama addressed that in his speech.

"I know that folks here have concerns about this law," he said. Obama, who spent a portion of his State of the Union address last month talking about not repealing the health care law, did not dwell on the GOP threat. Instead, he repeated that he is open to medical malpractice reform and revoking an IRS reporting "1099" requirement.

House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement after the speech, "President Obama has retooled his rhetoric, but not his job-destroying policies, which are eroding confidence, fostering uncertainty, and crowding out private investment. Far from changing tack, his administration is taking steps to protect the job-crushing regulations in its health care and permanent bailout laws, while plotting a backdoor national energy tax. "

The audience laughed when Obama make a joke about two leading business and labor leaders, Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.

The two men are "not Facebook friends," Obama quipped. "Well, maybe, I don't think they are anyway. I didn't check on this. But they agree on the need to build a 21st century infrastructure."

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121 Comments

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picard295

And while Obama reaches out and says "all regulations aren't bad" now comes Obama's Dept. of Transportation's report that found nothing wrong with Toyota throttle controls. But despite the findings that there were no problems; the Dept. of Transportation announces they will add more regulations to the Auto Industry anyway. Is it any wonder the costs of business and government are going up?

February 08 2011 at 4:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
oldengineera2

Is it any wonder businessmen approach Obama's extended open hand as Charlie Brown approaches the football when Lucy tees it up? He has a history of slapping them around in rhetoric, and very little evidence of business comprehension. A case in point is the latest Obama suggestion that the cure for joblessness is to increase the costs of employment by way of raising unemployment taxes. The concept is wrongheaded to the point of comedy.

February 08 2011 at 12:49 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
dwuzze

Henry Ford paid his employees above average wages back in the day so that they could afford to buy his product --- a car.... Many titans of industry disagreed with that approach and wanted only to maximize their profits. With some 2 trillion dollars sitting stagnant in corporate coffers, it might behoove them that it is in their arena to spin the wheels of industry and create positive cash flow here in the USA. Profits made by exporting industry abroad is shortsighted as American consumers have less and less money to buy their foreign produced goods.

February 08 2011 at 11:14 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
tistolaugh

Of course the Chamber is much more experienced than Obama on the jobs front, and they are not about to kowtow to his flailing policies now. Businesses will continue to do what is best for themselves, not Obama's reelection.

February 08 2011 at 10:54 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
caballus2011

The Chinese are very anti-regulatory as well. Over the past 10 years we have imported everything from poisoned baby milk to toxic jewelry and toys. They have killed our pets with melamine in pet food and sold us radioactive drywall. They have exported toothpaste containing diethylene glycol (antifreeze) and poisoned powdered milk.
This is what happens without regulation and it doesn't matter if the company is based in the U.S. or China. American Lead fought for 20 years to keep lead IN paint. Even kids room paint, because it was 'cheaper to make'.

In the battle between 'ruins countless lives' and 'makes more money' - the crowd at the Chamber of Commerce goes for the latter every time.
Oh and despite the 'US' in the 'Chamber of Commerce' title- it is NOT part of our government any more than the 'Federal' Reserve is.

February 08 2011 at 9:57 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
jendavrah

obamas entire platform is built on strong government controll of every aspect of your life--including the transfer of what you have worked very hard for to others who have chosen not to contibute to the Great American way but have it all handed to them!!

After all-that is obamas history-thats is how he has grown up-never really worked just took!

so he can reah all he wants to business-he only wants to take not help!

February 08 2011 at 8:29 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Breeze5208

Deregulation is not the problem. There were regulations in place on wall street. The problem was in a lack of oversight and enforcement.
You can put all the rules you want in place but if no one watches to makes sure they are followed and no one enforces the rule they are useless.
Imagine having all the rule sthere are in the NFL and ref's to enforce them or the ref's just paid no attention.
What those on the left have to face is there were regulations and people like BARNEY FRANK democrat Mass. and CHRIS DODD democrat COnn. turned their heads and said all was well. Don't believe it,, lokk it up. C Span has the video.

February 08 2011 at 8:11 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

The US Chamber of commerce - the main engine that helps send companies to Mexico.l.........................The United States - Mexico Chamber of Commerce (USMCOC) will be hosting our annual Bi-national Meeting & Awards Gala, November 8th-10th at the St. Regis Hotel in Mexico City. The title of this year's meeting is "Mexico 2010-Reunión del Bicentenario", and will celebrate this year’s Bicentennial of Mexico's Independence and the Centennial of Mexico’s Revolution (Civil War).

Topics will highlight current business opportunities, incentives for U.S. investments as well as the role of Mexico's current economic and political situation. Topics will highlight current issues including:

• Health $ Chronic Diseases
• Transportation $ Medical Tourism. Resort Destination & Retirement Communities
• Transportation & Infrastructure;
• Economy & Fiscal Forecast
• U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation;
• Energy, Environment, & Water.

February 08 2011 at 8:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Elaine

Businesses and industries have proven, over and over again, that they CANNOT or WILL NOT police themselves...hence, "reglation". Look at what has happened to the industries that have been "deregulated" over the years! Telephone, airlines, banking, oil, cable...prices skyrocket and services go straight to Hell. Screw the consumer for profits. THAT is all deregulation brings.

February 08 2011 at 7:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

No every regulation isn't bad! It's the number of regulations! I own a small business (family owned for 50 years and 3 generations). We have to file "plans" with several different agencies such as the EPA, DOHS, DOT and SEVERAL other government agencies. The problem is most of them are basically the same with the exception of one or two questions. If we could fill out the forms once and they share the info, it would save us time and money. The questions are the other issue as they expect us to determine things that we have no way of knowing such as; What is the likelyhood of an attack on the facility? How many people would be affected indirectly or directly by an attack on the facility? The other issue is that my grandparents saved money to open this business and worked in the business every since it was opened, my parents went with out pay during hard times and invested money into the business for over 40 years, my brother and I have worked hours without end, invested personal money and went with out pay when the business struggled for over 20 years and yet when my grandmother passes the government will take 48% of the business! A business they have caused to be worth less due to the regulations they imposse.

February 08 2011 at 7:40 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michael's comment
artfrankmiami

You're the type of business owner that should be protected from regulations, but the USCoC is using you're kind of plight to fight for deregulation for large corporations, not the little guy. I understand, I work very hard, we have financial problems due to schooling and now health issues with my son and I have overpaid my taxes for several years, but it never seems to be enough. I've had issues with two CC providers BofA and C1 that I have paid on time, yet after the melt down in 2008, raised my interest rates (C1 more than double) making it impossible to lower my debt load with my present unemployed situation.

February 08 2011 at 12:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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