Friday, September 27, 2013

Businesses Speak to Congress on Budget Dance

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber joined nearly 240 now 251 groups rallied by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, signing a letter this Friday afternoon pushing Congress to avoid a government shutdown and to move fast to raise the debt ceiling.

 “It is not in the best interest of the employers, employees or the American people to risk a government shutdown that will be economically disruptive and create even more uncertainties for the U.S. economy,” the groups wrote. In addition to the Chamber, Airlines for America, Business Roundtable, Consumer Bankers Association, Edison Electric Institute, Retail Industry Leaders Association, Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the Real Estate Roundtable, U.S. Travel Association and United States Telecom Association were among the large trade associations signing the letter.

The call for action comes as the Senate voted to send back a $986 billion spending bill, after stripping out language that defunds Obamacare. It’s unclear how the House will move next. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) struggled to get enough votes to pass a bill that would raise the debt ceiling and Republican leadership has not yet laid out a path forward on the spending bill. Unless Congress acts, government funding ends Sept. 30, which would force a shutdown.
The business groups’ letter also offers a counter narrative to the pressure outside conservative groups like Senate Conservative Fund and Heritage Action are putting on members to defund Obamacare even if it causes a government shutdown.

“We appreciate fully the importance of restraining federal spending, both discretionary spending and mandatory spending, to reduce federal budget deficits, contain the growth of federal debt, and thereby re-establish fiscal discipline in the near-term and for the long haul,” the groups wrote. “However, with the U.S. economy continuing to under perform, the federal government needs to maintain its normal operations pending a successful outcome of broader budgetary reforms.

They also called for government to overhaul entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

“Congress cannot continue ‘kicking the can down the road;’ it’s time to take corrective action to address the unaffordable path of entitlement spending, to stabilize federal finances and to undertake fundamental tax reform to strengthen the American economy,” they wrote.

UPDATE (Sept. 30, 2013):  Now totaling 251 organizations, these signing organizations are added to the multi-industry coalition letter sent to Congress last Friday include:

Agricultural Retailers Association
Air Conditioning Contractors of America
California Chamber of Commerce
Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce - IL
Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce – CA
Greater Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce – FL
Greater North Dakota Chamber
Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce – PA
Maui Chamber of Commerce – HI
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce – AL
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce – IL
National Marine Distributors Association (NMDA)
North Carolina Chamber
Northwest Food Processors Association
Outdoor Power Equipment and Engine Service Association (OPEESA)
Port Hueneme Chamber of Commerce – CA

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