- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce called on President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-majority Congress on Wednesday to roll back Obama-era regulations on clean power plants and health care while pursuing new trade deals and immigration reform.

“On January 20th, President Trump can begin to eliminate the regulatory burden imposed by executive orders,” said Chamber CEO Thomas Donohue. “We urge him to act immediately and continually. There is no justification for the regulatory overkill we have seen over the last eight years.”

In his annual address on the state of American business, Mr. Donohue said employers forecast economic growth of 2 percent to 2.5 percent this year, with two or three Federal Reserve hikes in interest rates.

“Business is optimistic because we see a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enact major reforms that could transform the American economy from a low-growth to a high-growth economy,” he said. “With their votes, Americans sent a strong message. They want a real change in the country’s economic course.”

Mr. Trump has pledged to rescind a significant number of Obama administration regulations, such as repealing Obamacare and easing restrictions on energy production. Mr. Donohue said the Chamber’s legal team will have “a very busy year.”

“The process for tackling other excessive regulations — from the overtime rule to the ‘waters of the U.S. rule’ to the Clean Power Plan to net neutrality — will take longer. So let’s get started,” he said.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said Wednesday that lawmakers would use various legislative tactics starting in early February to “start moving” on repeals of many Obama regulations finalized in the last 60 days of the administration.

The House on Wednesday also passed the Regulatory Accountability Act, which Republican lawmakers said will provide for more public input and transparency in creating regulations.

“One big reason that our economy is so far from its potential — one reason there is so much frustration among Americans — is the crush of regulations that are coming out of Washington,” said House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican. “Go just about anywhere in the country — be it coal mines in the Rust Belt or paper mills out West or in the Midwest — you will see jobs and whole industries in jeopardy.”

Mr. Donohue said business leaders expect many Democratic lawmakers “will want to be constructively involved” in cutting red tape and enacting tax reform.

“After all, 25 Democratic senators are up for re-election in two years,” he said. “That’s one good reason to be constructive rather than obstructive.”

Republican leaders have said they would work quickly to repeal Obamacare, but a replacement proposal has yet to take shape. Mr. Donohue said that “repeal alone will not fix our health care system.”

“There should be an adequate transition between the current system and a new plan,” he said.

The Chamber has supported Mr. Obama’s efforts at immigration reform, arguing that employers need certainty in the labor force and a steady supply of certain skilled workers. Those objectives could clash with Mr. Trump’s plans for a crackdown on illegal immigration.

“The American people have made it clear that they support reasonable levels of legal immigration — and, they want more done to prevent illegal immigration,” Mr. Donohue said. “Our new leaders must therefore chart a balanced course that improves security and enforcement while modernizing America’s legal immigration and visa systems. Sensible reforms will help, not hurt, American workers — because more companies will locate, expand and keep their operations on U.S. soil if they know they can find the talent they need at all skill levels.”

The Chamber also supported Mr. Obama’s free trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that Congress never approved. Mr. Trump has panned the agreement as a bad deal for U.S. workers.

Mr. Donohue said Washington still must work toward new trade agreements.

“There ought to be a serious deliberation on how we can achieve the economic and geopolitical objectives of the TPP,” he said. “Inaction on the part of the United States creates an opportunity for other countries to gain benefits for themselves at the expense of American workers, American businesses and American influence.”

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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