Unlike a politician, Thomas Donohue -- CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce -- doesn't have to worry about the next election. He can provide cover to politicians who might get scared off by tough decisions on the economy and spending.
This is particularly useful right now because the country faces tough economic and budget choices that could scare off political action. Unlike a pol, Mr. Donohue doesn't need to watch his backside or worry about the next election. Now, when the government has pretty much run out of stimulative options for the economy and is depending on the private sector to revive jobs, Donohue has maximum clout. He can use it to provide cover for those in Washington who need to make difficult policy decisions.
Plain-spoken and fair-minded, Donohue talked about several of the tough choices ahead in his annual "State of American Business" address this morning. (The headline: He predicts 3.2 percent growth for the year; 2.4 to 2.6 million new jobs – more bullish than many forecasts but a prediction that's also loaded with caveats, such as rising oil prices.)
In two areas in particular, he can provide a much needed push to Congress and the White House. One is rebuilding America's infrastructure. The other is cutting its federal deficits and debt. Note how both of these involve significant, painful costs: one is in build-out (investing in roads, rail, air, and so on); the other is in build-down (cutting government spending, i.e. services, which the public is sure to find painful).