U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Donohue promised the group's "largest, most aggressive" campaign ever around the 2010 elections. In a warning to legislators, Donohue said the Chamber is "going to be in a lot of politics in the House and the Senate" and judicial elections.
"As Americans choose a new House and new senators this fall, the Chamber will highlight lawmakers and candidates who support" its priorities, he said. Donohue's remarks were delivered as part of his annual State of American Business address Tuesday morning.
He also warned that government efforts to regulate the financial system, overhaul health care and revamp taxes could have unintended economic consequences.
Donohue downplayed reports of tension between the Chamber and the Obama administration at a press conference after his speech, stressing that the Chamber is "not in presidential politics," and saying that "the Chamber's not had a problem with the White House...we have people from the administration in this building almost every day."
But in his speech, he took on much of the administration's agenda, including the health care overhaul - remarks backed up by the $50 million-plus the Chamber spent on lobbying during the first three quarters of 2009. "The legislation emerging from the House and Senate is not reform," he said of the health care overhaul currently the subject of legislative negotiations. And the climate change bill passed by the House last year "would tie economic activity in knots and eliminate jobs from one end of the country to another. That's why a growing number of Democrats in the Senate are running from this approach just as fast as they can."