The president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday said his group would press lawmakers over the next weeks to avoid the fiscal cliff and to buy themselves time for comprehensive tax and entitlement reforms.
Thomas Donohue said the big-business lobby also wants to take the discussion beyond taxes and spending — adding what the group is calling a “third bucket”: energy. Domestic energy production would create jobs and additional tax revenue, Donohue told reporters at a briefing Tuesday.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for our nation,” Donohue said. “And it all depends on reforming our current energy policies to streamline permitting and open new areas to prudent development — all while taking great care to protect the environment.”
He added, “Every dollar in revenue generated from energy is a dollar we won’t have to cut from our defense or entitlements, or raise in taxes. . . . The chamber is going to pull out all the stops in the coming weeks and months.”
Karen Harbert, president and CEO of the chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, said her affiliate would pump out lots of analyses and reports over the coming weeks to make the case for new energy operations. “We’ll be issuing recommendations shortly,” she said.
As for comprehensive tax reform, Donohue said that “everyone knows our current system is a mess” and noted that the chamber will work with the executive and legislative branches to push for a big deal.
“If we get this right, this is a huge deal for this country,” said Bruce Josten, the chamber’s top lobbyist.
Toward the end of the briefing, Donohue noted that the chamber’s 300,000 members may not necessarily be of one mind when it comes to the tax system. His members, he said, “have a lot of different opinions” on the matter.