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Obama strikes a business tone with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
February 07, 2011

Since Barack Obama became President of the United States, one of the biggest complaints from his critics has been that his policies and measures have been far from “business friendly.”

Maybe that is your opinion and maybe it isn’t, but, either way, it is worth taking a look at comments made during his speech at the United States Chamber of Commerce earlier today. Before I dig into what Obama said, it is worth noting that the U.S. Chamber has made itself very clear about how this Administration has come up short on several initiatives, including job creation, cap and trade i.e. energy legislation, and healthcare legislation to name a few.

Regardless of your political party affiliation, it is clear that Obama did a good job of making his case to U.S. businesses, noting that now is the time to make required and necessary investments to help the economy grow.

According to media reports, U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue, in his introduction of Obama, said some areas where U.S. businesses and the White House can get on the same page are increasing free trade and exports and infrastructure investment, two ideas which the President holds dearly when it comes to jump-starting the economy.

And in what could be seen as an extension of a theme touted in the recent State of the Union address, Obama stressed the importance of U.S. business to get back in the game:

“Right now, businesses across this country are proving that America can compete,” said the President. “Caterpillar is opening a new plant to build excavators in Texas that used to be shipped from Japan. In Tennessee, Whirlpool is opening their first new US factory in more than a decade. Dow is building a new plant in Michigan to manufacture batteries for electric vehicles…Now is the time to invest in America. Today, American companies have nearly $2 trillion sitting on their balance sheets. I know that many of you have told me that you are waiting for demand to rise before you get off the sidelines and expand, and that with millions of Americans out of work, demand has risen more slowly than any of us would like.”

But even with business demand still relatively low, Obama noted how economists and sales forecasts are indicating a healthy increase in demand is on the way, adding that the recently-concluded bipartisan tax cut deal enables U.S. businesses to expense 100 percent of capital investments, which can, in turn, lead to greater demand and higher profits along with more American jobs.

In his comments on infrastructure, Obama said that the U.S. has a responsibility as a nation to provide our people and our businesses with the fastest, most reliable way to move goods and information.

“The costs to business from the outdated and inadequate infrastructure we currently have are enormous,” he said. “That’s why I want to put more people to work rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges. And that’s why I’ve proposed connecting 80 percent of the country to high-speed rail, and making it possible for companies to put high-speed internet coverage in reach of virtually all Americans.

And as he has in the past, Obama stressed the need to build a 21st century infrastructure and in doing so he thanked the Chamber for pushing Congress to make more infrastructure investments, and to do so in the most cost-effective way possible: with tax dollars that leverage private capital, and with projects determined not by politics, but by what’s best for our economy.

With the goal of doubling U.S. exports by 2015 always top of mind for the President, he mentioned that when it comes to exports, it essentially translates into seeking new opportunities and opening new markets for U.S. goods

“I’ll go anywhere to be a booster for American businesses, American workers, and American products,” said Obama. “We recently signed export deals with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs here in the United States. And we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs – a deal that has unprecedented support from business and labor; Democrats and Republicans. That’s the kind of deal I’ll be looking for as we pursue trade agreements with Panama and Columbia and work to bring Russia into the international trading system.”

If these types of things come to fruition, the future economic outlook could very well be promising even in light of our relatively slow and gradual recovery. There is obviously a long way to go, but the potential is there. If President Barack Obama and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce can work together, can’t everyone else?

About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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