White House, Big Business, Continue War of Words

In a letter to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett say the "stakes are far too high for us to be working against one another. That is why we were surprised and disappointed at the rhetoric we have heard from some in the business community – rhetoric that fails to acknowledge the important steps this Administration has taken every single day to meet our shared objectives."

The letter goes on to address concerns voiced by the Chamber – and possible areas of common ground -- about exports, tax cuts and economic growth, small business hiring incentives, restoring fiscal health, reducing waste and ensuring accountability, reviewing regulations.

“We will not, however, accept a return to the lax regulation of the financial industry that contributed to the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression,” Emanuel and Jarrett write. “And we will not stand by while oil and gas companies continue to fight needed changes to the outdated regulations that are partially responsible for one of the worst environmental crises in American history.”

You can read the White House letter HERE.

Earlier today, Chamber president and CEO Tom Donohue said in a speech that “taken collectively, the regulatory activity now underway is so overwhelming and beyond anything we have ever seen, that we risk moving this country away from a government of the people to a government of regulators.”

The Chamber also wrote an open letter to the White House (you can read it HERE ) that stated that “Uncertainty is the enemy of growth, investment, and job creation. Through their legislative and regulatory proposals -- some passed, some pending, and others simply talked about -- the congressional majority and the administration have injected tremendous uncertainty into economic decision making and business planning. This is why banks are reluctant to lend and why American corporations are sitting on well over a trillion dollars. It is why America’s small businesses and entrepreneurs, the engines of innovation and job creation, are starving for capital and are either struggling to survive or unable to expand.”

The letter urges Democrats to create a “Growth and Jobs Tax Policy”; restore fiscal health; expand trade and exports; rebuild and expand US infrastructure; and ease the regulatory burden.

Of this latter issue, the Chamber writes that there “must be a recognition by the administration and Congress that the regulatory burden they have imposed on the U.S. economy has reached a tipping point. Unless the cumulative impact of existing regulations, newly mandated regulations, and proposed regulations is seriously addressed, the economy will not create the jobs Americans need. We will lose even more jobs. They will simply disappear or be sent offshore….Each time a new regulatory proposal is even floated in Washington, investors in the potentially impacted industries close their wallets. Uncertainty forces them to do so.”

At the White House briefing, ABC News asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs for a response to Donohue’s words, as quoted above.

Responded Gibbs: “I think it is ironic to make a statement like that as companies report, as Intel did today, record sales; when corporate profits are up 65 percent from where they were two years ago. Look, the Chamber of Commerce has a different approach to certain issues, but we have different responsibilities. The president -- we have not in any way instituted a regulatory structure that is in danger of doing anything like that. Again, many of the things that they talked about in their letter that they sent were how do you have tax cuts for economic growth; 25 different tax cuts were contained in the Recovery Act. The notion that they would like to see increased investment in infrastructure is something that the president has talked about for years. So I'm -- I don't -- I don't think that what -- I don't think what they're saying in that letter squares very well with what's going on in -- in the business world in this country right now. Is business investment based on the fragility of the economy? Is it governed by that? Of course. But I don't think that that is -- it's certainly not a surprising thing.”

Gibbs also went on to guess that the Chamber gives more than 80 percent of its campaign contributions to Republicans.

-Jake Tapper

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