- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Leading business groups, savoring the results of Tuesday’s election and victories by a slew of pro-business Republicans at the federal and state level, said Wednesday they are looking for their own version of change from President Obama and his administration.

American business groups are looking to jump-start the economy with the GOP takeover of the Senate for the first time since 2006, on issues ranging from health care and energy to climate regulation. A GOP takeover of Congress was crucial for the economy, according to several business leaders, as they said change was a necessity in order for the U.S. to see economic reform.

Labor groups, by contrast, were licking their wounds but pointing to a silver lining in the political potency of the minimum wage issue in several deep-red states Tuesday.

“Small business owners believe overwhelmingly that Washington is principally responsible for the country’s economic problems, and for that reason, a change of leadership in the Senate was crucial,” Dan Danner, president and CEO of the National Federation of Independent Business, said.

Now businesses look to rejuvenate a stagnated economy they see as plagued by regulation and excessive taxes, and a GOP-led Senate could move on a series of bills passed by the Republican House majority that has stalled over the past two years.

“There’s a clear difference [in the voting record] on pro-growth and pro-manufacturing issues” between a Republican-led Congress and one led by the Democrats, said Ned Monroe, spokesman for the National Association of Manufacturing. “We’re optimistic that that kind of voting record is going to be able to lead to a pro-growth policy.”

Tax reform will once again be on businesses’ minds as they hope Congress is able to ease restraints. This time, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, on the verge of becoming the new majority leader, is expected to move aggressively to avoid another deadlock on taxes. The Kentucky lawmaker promised to push that reform in his victory speech last night, and President Obama hinted he would be open to talks on a tax overhaul Wednesday.

That change is what business leaders are counting on.

“More than anything else, small business needs freedom to grow,” Mr. Danner said. “That means lower taxes, fewer rules and a federal bureaucracy that is restrained from imposing itself unduly on Americans whose ambition, imagination and grit will otherwise make us all more prosperous.”

The U.S. Chamber of Congress is hopeful for new movement on comprehensive tax reform, regulatory reform, international trade and other priorities, said Tyler Hernandez, senior manager of media relations for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

One of the biggest concerns following yesterday’s elections is the housing finance reform, an issue not likely to be resolved soon. In further statements released by small business leaders, U.S. companies are asking Congress to solve problems surrounding tax policies, minimum wage, immigration, energy as well as other concerns impacting U.S. businesses.

For their part, labor unions were left searching for allies as the Republican congressional majorities stake out their workplace and tax priorities.

“The leadership may have changed in Congress, but that doesn’t change our focus,” said J. David Cox Sr., national president for the American Federation of Government Employees, in a statement. “We will work with anyone from any political party who is willing to stand up and support working people and good government.”

Critical of past White House-congressional standoffs that led to government shutdowns and near-defaults on the government debt, business groups were heartened by Mr. McConnell’s assertion — twice — that the GOP Senate takeover will not mean more of the same, even as battles over Obamacare, financial regulatory reform and other issues sharpen.

“We’re not going to be shutting down the government or defaulting on the national debt,” the incoming GOP majority leader told reporters Wednesday in Louisville.

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