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Donohue: Biggest Threat to Business Is New Regulation

After spending more than $30 million to help mostly Republicans in the midterm elections, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue says there are no hard feelings between his group, the White House and the incoming House minority.

“I’m proud of the role that the chamber played in educating voters about the serious issues facing our economy,” Donohue told the chamber’s board of directors in a prepared speech Wednesday morning. “Since the elections, we’ve been asked whether the chamber will be able to work with the administration and those in Congress who criticize us.

“The answer is, of course we can,” Donohue said. “It’s already happening.”

Although details were vague, Donohue on Wednesday also identified the latest anti-business boogeyman that the chamber will do combat with in the coming year: scores of new rules that must be written to implement Democratic-backed overhauls of the nation’s financial and health care systems.

“The single biggest threat to job creation facing us today is the regulatory tsunami of unprecedented force,” Donohue said. “We will stand up a new group that will engage a national advocate of stature and experience in the regulatory arena. The group will continually tell the story to the American people about the massive costs of excessive regulation — a tax, if you will — on jobs and on their personal and economic freedom.

“We cannot allow this nation to move forward from a government of the people to a government of the regulators,” he continued. “And we’re going to be engaged in this fight for years to come.”

Following Donohue’s speech, the chamber’s board was expected to meet with presumptive Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.), a possible 2012 presidential contender. Donohue also later told reporters that the chamber has no plans to get involved in the 2012 presidential contest.

“The chamber has not, does not and will not participate in presidential politics. We work with the president globally all the time on geopolitics, national security and expanding trade agreements,” Donohue said. “It’s not in our interest to get involved in presidential politics, and it’s not in our interest to get involved in any activity that would weaken the president for his re-election.”

Donohue also told the chamber’s board that he will continue to aggressively lobby against a Democratic-led campaign finance bill, as well as legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize. Ahead of the 2010 elections, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) attempted to pass the DISCLOSE Act, a now-doomed bill aimed at discouraging the chamber and other organizations from running political television ads.

“‘Disclosure’ may be the public rallying cry of those seeking to silence the business community, but their real purpose is to find out all they can about our supporters and then target them for intimidation and harassment,” Donohue said. “They want to drive business out of our elections and policy debates. But guess what? It ain’t going to happen.”

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