U.S. Chamber of Commerce president Tom Donohue told reporters on Tuesday that the powerful business lobby plans to insert energy development into the already complicated debate over the fiscal cliff. Donohue argued that by expanding the debate beyond taxes and entitlements, lawmakers could grow the economy and jobs through a larger tax base and higher revenues.
"This is an extraordinary opportunity for our nation and it all depends on reforming our current energy policies to streamline permitting and open new areas of prudent development, all while taking care to protect the environment," Donohue said at a briefing with reporters. "It can be done."
The Chamber said it will use its grassroots, coalitions and lobbying advocacy to push the new idea into the debate. But it doesn't plan to blanket the airways as it’s done in past legislative debates, leaving that task to The Campaign to Fix the Debt, which includes a group of influential CEOs.
"It'd be ridiculous for us to go to the same people to raise the same money to do the same kind of ad. They've already raised it. They're running ads. Their principals are in concert with our principals in terms of fixing the debt so that's up there and that's out there," said the Chamber's top lobbyist Bruce Josten.
Both men agreed that the lame duck doesn't provide enough time for comprehensive reform and believe Congress needs to avoid the coming increased taxes and spending cuts and seriously signal that it will tackle the systemic problems in the next year.
"The cliff is going to be here in nothing flat and you're not going to get anything of high significance done in that period of time," Donohue said. "And it is much better to heed the warning of our own government and say, 'Why don't we just get enough time to do this and make a commitment that it's going to be done.'"
Added Josten: “We’re one big deal away from repositioning the American economy as the cat’s meow economy of the world.”
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