WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite mounting an aggressive attack on many Obama administration policies, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday the giant trade association has no intention of working against President Barack Obama's re-election 21012.
"It is not in our interests to get into presidential politics," Chamber President Thomas Donohue told reporters after addressing the chamber's board of directors and decrying what he called a "regulatory tsunami" faced by American business. He specifically cited signature Obama initiatives such as the new health care overhaul and financial regulations law.
"We have never seen anything of this scale before," he said of the rules under consideration. "It defies all logic and common sense."
But Donohue was careful to separate opposition to the president's policies and opposition to the president.
"We are not seeking any activity that would limit the president's ability to advance his own re-election," he said.
Donohue also voiced support for monetary policy initiatives by the Federal Reserve under Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. He cautioned lawmakers not to encroach on the independence of the Fed, putting him at odds with many Republicans who have objected to the Fed's decision to pump $600 billion into the economy.
Even if the chamber does not actively inject itself into the presidential election, it inevitably will clash publicly with the administration, leaving little doubt about its views of Obama's presidency.
But Donohue's stance is also pragmatic. The chamber is seeking to influence the administration on issues of international trade and it has supported Obama's steps to rescue the banking industry, stimulate the economy and assist financially reeling automakers.
The chamber spent more than $32 million in political ads during the midterm elections, most of them aimed against Democrats. Obama criticized the chamber during the campaign, denouncing it for not disclosing its donors.
In a news conference two days after the election, Obama tried to strike a more conciliatory tone, saying he planned more outreach to the business community.
Following Donohue's remarks, White House deputy communications director Jennifer Psaki said: "On the heels of a successful trip to Asia, the president looks forward to working with many of the stakeholders, including the Chamber of Commerce, on the continued promotion of exports, free and fair trade and making America more competitive."
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