U.S. Chamber President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue, in his annual “State of American Business” address, reflected on 2017 as a breakthrough year for economic growth as he outlined a forward-looking policy agenda to build on gains and put America on a path toward meaningful, long-term prosperity.
Donohue used the speech to urge lawmakers in Washington, D.C., to focus their efforts on advancing policies that will strengthen, sustain, and share growth—and he warned against policies that would undermine those goals.
“Today, the economic winds are at our backs,” said Donohue. “There is so much we can do this year and beyond to make America more prosperous and hopeful—and this time, for everyone.”
Recent successes on tax reform and regulatory relief have helped usher in a “new era of growth,” Donohue said. To strengthen and sustain that growth, Donohue called for immediate action to modernize the nation’s infrastructure, and he made the case for corporate governance reforms to lift impediments currently dissuading businesses from going public and staying public.
Donohue also cautioned that wrong moves on trade policy pose a serious risk to economic growth. He reasserted the business community’s strong support for modernizing and improving trade agreements like NAFTA and KORUS—not withdrawing from them.
“If we aren’t leading on trade, we’re falling behind,” said Donohue.“The bottom line is that growth will be weakened, not strengthened or sustained, if we pull back from trade.”
To ensure that gains from economic growth are shared more broadly across American households and communities, Donohue pledged the U.S. Chamber’s commitment to policies that support and expand the new American workforce, as well as those that enable a smart and comprehensive embrace of technology.
Donohue also discussed the upcoming midterm elections, casting this political cycle as one with significant implications for keeping America on a pro-growth path.
Throughout the speech, Donohue called upon the business community to take leadership in the effort to find solutions for ongoing economic challenges.
“So what is the state of American business today? It is strong—but determined to grow stronger,” said Donohue. “We’re determined to help lead our country through this period of rapid change so that it emerges stronger, more competitive, and more secure. And we’re determined to help turn growth today into prosperity that endures.”