The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is warning that increasing government overreach from U.S. agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, Securities and Exchange Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency and Internal Revenue Service, will stifle competition and free enterprise.
"If bureaucrats and elected officials don’t stop getting in the way, we will stop them. We will challenge overreach and defend the rule of law at every turn, in every agency, and with every tool at our disposal … in Washington, in statehouses, and in the courts," U.S. Chamber president and CEO Suzanne Clark stated during the organization's State of American Business keynote on Tuesday. "The U.S. Chamber will take on this fight because what’s at stake is no less than the future of our free-market economy."
Clark argued that competition in a free market is essential to the nation's ability to tackle challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation and supply chain disruptions.
"Market competition incentivizes people to take big risks and persevere through failures. It motivates people to start and grow businesses. It enables companies to go public and create wealth for others," Clark said. "That’s how customers get more choice and lower prices. It’s how people save for retirement and secure their futures. It’s how all of us get to benefit from life-saving innovations and world-changing solutions. And it’s the process that has allowed this country to build the most innovative, resilient and dynamic economy in history."
In order to keep government agencies in check, chamber executives said they would utilize their litigation center and file Freedom of Information Act requests to help increase transparency to the public.
In addition to warning about government overreach, chamber executives slammed the Biden administration's effort to pin some of the blame for higher inflation on market concentration.
"Every time a problem comes up in the economy, whether it's inflation or the supply chain bottlenecks, some in the administration are suggesting that the culprit must be this solution that's our preexisting agenda. And you've seen lots of economists dispute that with respect to inflation. I think that is similarly true with respect to the supply chain disruptions," the chamber's chief policy officer Neil Bradley told reporters at a press conference. "We didn't have a sudden surge in concentration in our supply chains that somehow produced the bottlenecks. And so when the administration goes to concentration or antitrust or the FTC is the solution, they're really missing the larger issues that they need to be working on."
Clark said filling the nearly 11 million job vacancies in the United States should be the federal government's main priority and urged the Biden administration to double the number of legal immigrants entering the U.S., create a permanent solution for dreamers and remove work barriers for parents without access to affordable child care, individuals with limited broadband access and those who are struggling with addiction or were formerly incarcerated.
"If we can alleviate the worker shortage, it might be the fastest thing to do to impact inflation," Clark said.
Executives also argue that the United States is falling behind competitors like China when it comes to establishing trade agreements and cited potential opportunities with the United Kingdom and through the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Clark stressed that a cohesive strategy is needed to confront China on regulatory issues and human rights abuses while cooperating on issues like sustainability.
Going forward, the Chamber of Commerce believes politicians from both parties need to start putting their differences aside and start advocating for friendlier policy toward businesses.
"Let’s stop the infighting and show the world that our democracy supporting our American enterprise system is what made the U.S. dynamic, diverse, resilient and strong," Clark said. "This is not just a competition of ideas here in our nation and in our politics. It’s a competition of models in the world and the world is watching."
While the Chamber of Commerce believes that certain aspects of the Biden administration's Build Back Better legislation have the potential to be enacted in a bipartisan way following further study, they warned that the current proposal will put companies at a competitive disadvantage globally.