In his annual "State of American Business" address, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue said Tuesday he "was cautiously" optimistic about the state of the economy and outlined a four-point plan to put jobless Americans back to work.
"We begin 2011 in a lot better shape than we found ourselves last year," he said at the chamber's Washington headquarters. "The state of American business is improving."
Mr. Donohue pointed to expectations that the GDP will grow by 3.2 percent this year.
"While the recovery may be picking up steam, it is fragile and uneven," he said. "There are many unanswered questions that must be addressed before companies will start aggressively hiring. Over the next year, the chamber's number one priority will be to turn this economic recovery into a jobs recovery so that we can start putting Americans back to work."
His prepared speech outlined four immediate priorities that the chamber will address to boost America's competitiveness in the global economy:
"1. Regulatory restraint and reform. Work to reform the regulatory process — to restore some badly needed balance, restraint and common sense. We will also stand up a new group to tell the story to the American people about the massive costs of excessive regulations on jobs and their personal and economic freedom.
"2. Expanding American trade. Work to pass the pending free-trade agreements and launch a major initiative to educate citizens and policymakers on trade that will clearly link global engagement to American jobs.
"3. Rebuilding our economic platform. Rebuild America's economic foundation, the platform our society runs on. Roads, bridges, rail and mass transit networks, airports and air transport systems must be modernized. Broadband capacity, power generation and water supplies must be expanded. We can create jobs, reduce our trade and budget deficits, and increase our own security by developing all forms of alternative, renewable and traditional energy. We will also commence a new project to outline what our nation must do to create and secure a 21st-century global supply chain and logistics system.
"4. Reducing deficits and debt. Support congressional efforts to lower spending. We will make the case for entitlement reform, as any plan that fails to tackle these runaway programs is doomed to fail. We will also support efforts by Republican and Democratic governors to challenge public employee unions and their excessive payroll, health and retirement demands."
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