Obviously we've all gotten a lot of mileage out of the groundless hysterics--based exclusively on a speech nobody had heard or read yet. And I had a good of a time as anyone. But it's worth mentioning that here--in our Universe--President Obama actually did address the US Chamber of Commerce today.
There really aren't any surprises in it for people who have paid attention to Obama's method or his message. There is no Fire and Brimstone about how corporations are destroying America and you'll take more regulations and you'll like it, etc. About sixty percent fluff, as any such speech would pretty much have to be. I'll throw out some of the points I found interesting then open up the floor. Note that I'm not posting the whole thing (it's pretty long) nor am I attempting to quash anything he said. Those who want to add more quotes go ahead.
As I'm guessing we all could have guessed, he opened with a tone of coopration and a review of what got us where we are:
Now, on some issues, like the Recovery Act, we've found common cause. On other issues, we've had some pretty strong disagreements. But I'm here today because I'm convinced we can and must work together. Whatever differences we may have, I know that all of us share a deep belief in this country, our people, and the principles that have made America's economy the envy of the world.
In way of actual ideas and proposals, here's what I found. Any/all emphasis mine.
Regarding Globalization and offshoring of jobs:
And this is a job for all of us. As a government, we will help lay the foundation for you to grow and innovate. We will upgrade our transportation and communications networks so you can move goods and information more quickly and cheaply. We will invest in education so that you can hire the most skilled, talented workers in the world. And we'll knock down barriers that make it harder for you to compete, from the tax code to the regulatory system.
But I want to be clear: even as we make America the best place on earth to do business, businesses also have a responsibility to America.
Now, I understand the challenges you face. I understand that you're under incredible pressure to cut costs and keep your margins up. I understand the significance of your obligations to your shareholders. I get it. But as we work with you to make America a better place to do business, ask yourselves what you can do for America. Ask yourselves what you can do to hire American workers, to support the American economy, and to invest in this nation. That's what I want to talk about today - the responsibilities we all have to secure the future we all share.
Regarding repairing our infrastructure and the rare occurence of the US CoC and the AFL-CIO being on the same page:
We also have a responsibility as a nation to provide our people and our businesses with the fastest, most reliable way to move goods and information. The costs to business from the outdated and inadequate infrastructure we currently have are enormous. That's why I want to put more people to work rebuilding crumbling roads and bridges. And that's why I've proposed connecting 80 percent of the country to high-speed rail, and making it possible for companies to put high-speed internet coverage in reach of virtually all Americans.
You understand the importance of this. The fact is, the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO don't agree on a whole lot. Tom Donohue and Richard Trumka aren't exactly Facebook friends. But they agree on the need to build a 21st century infrastructure. And I want to thank the Chamber for pushing Congress to make more infrastructure investments, and to do so in the most cost-effective way possible: with tax dollars that leverage private capital, and with projects determined not by politics, but by what's best for our economy.
On Necessary and Unnecessary Regulations:
But ultimately, winning the future is not just about what the government can do to help you succeed. It's about what you can do to help America succeed.
For example, even as we work to eliminate burdensome regulations, America's businesses have a responsibility to recognize that there are some safeguards and standards that are necessary to protect the American people from harm or exploitation.
Few of us would want to live in a society without the rules that keep our air and water clean; that give consumers the confidence to do everything from investing in financial markets to buying groceries. Yet when standards like these have been proposed, opponents have often warned that they would be an assault on business and free enterprise. Early drug companies argued that the bill creating the FDA would "practically destroy the sale of ... remedies in the United States." Auto executives predicted that having to install seatbelts would bring the downfall of their industry. The President of the American Bar Association denounced child labor laws as "a communistic effort to nationalize children."
Of course, none of this has come to pass. In fact, companies adapt and standards often spark competition and innovation. Look at refrigerators. The government set modest targets to increase efficiency over time. Companies competed to hit these markers. And as a result, a typical fridge now costs half as much and uses a quarter of the energy it once did, saving families and businesses billions of dollars.
Moreover, the perils of too much regulation are matched by the dangers of too little. We saw that in the financial crisis, where the absence of sound rules of the road was hardly good for business. That's why, with the help of Paul Volcker who is here today, we passed a set of commonsense reforms. The same can be said of health insurance reform. We simply could not continue to accept a status quo that's made our entire economy less competitive, as we've paid more per person for health care than any other nation on earth. And we could not accept a broken system where insurance companies could drop people because they got sick, or families went bankrupt because of medical bills.
It's occuring to me at this point that I'm only about 1/3 of the way through the speech and still quoting... I wanted there to be a placeholder for people who read the actual speech to talk about it, so I'll assume we're all reading and start quoting.
As I said above, I think most of the speech was unsurprising... as popular as the suggestion was here earlier today, there was no passing of the keys to our corporate overlords. There was certainly a recognition that the CoC and their members have more clout than they did before, along with the reminder of who the President is, and that nobody's going to get anything if everybody insists on getting everything.
So what did you think? What were your high and low points?
Obligatory rec list thank you. Also: There actually is quite a bit of good discussion going on about the speech today.
And while I have you here, let me just say: I hate the Packers.
The AFL-CIO likes the challenge Obama issued to the Chamber of Commerce. Thanks Kalmoth!