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What We’re Watching as the Biden Administration Settles In

The Detroit Regional Chamber joins the chorus of others that hopes the Biden-Harris administration can rally the nation around the most important challenges we face at this moment. That starts with a widespread vaccination effort so that we can move beyond COVID-19 and begin rebuilding our economy.

As with every administration, the business community won’t always see eye to eye. The Chamber is committed to following our new President’s lead in practicing the art of disagreeing, when necessary, but not being disagreeable. The Biden-Harris Administration can expect early support from the business community in tackling the COVID-19 crisis, investing in infrastructure, and efforts to restore American stability abroad and at home.

Here are a few high-level issues the Chamber is watching as it advocates for the Michigan 2030 plan to help our state and the Midwest advance its global economic leadership.

What We Support

  • National COVID-19 and Vaccine Strategy: President Biden’s commitment to increasing mask requirements and accelerating vaccine distribution is necessary to address the dual public health and economic crises created by the pandemic. It’s what must occur to reopen businesses, create jobs and accelerate economic recovery.
  • Robust Economic Stimulus: Leadership from the White House on providing reasonable COVID-19 assistance to individuals and businesses is critical to jumpstarting the economy. The Chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, has indicated that it’s hard to overspend in instances like this and many experts believe spending now will help avoid a prolonged economic crisis. The Chamber supports modest unemployment assistance that reflects the number of persons structurally unemployed but not paying people more than when they were employed. Overall, unemployment assistance rather than blanket payments to those still employed is a better use of federal finances.
  • Infrastructure Investment: In terms of long-term recovery, rebuilding our infrastructure from our roads, bridges, and dams to our energy grid and broadband networks offers a means to reduce unemployment, drive economic growth, and increase global competitiveness. It offers a historic opportunity to rebuild as we recover and emerge stronger.
  • Immigration Reform and Meeting Talent Needs: Prioritizing comprehensive immigration reform is critical to meeting our workforce needs. Reforms such as increasing the number of H-1B visas that allow highly talented immigrants to bring their skills, knowledge, and ingenuity to our workforce are long overdue and can bring innovation to our economy at a time we need it most.
  • Civility and a Return to Normal Order of Business: The historic challenges this country faces would challenge any government let alone one paralyzed by infighting. Hyper-partisanship causes disfunction and undermines recovery efforts; the divisiveness must take a back seat to thoughtful policy. We hope the new administration can return the federal government to more normal business operations and work cohesively to address the public health, economic, and social crises we face. That effort will work best when all have a voice at the table, and we are encouraged by the diversity of the new administration’s cabinet nominations and believe it will lead to a more inclusive and prosperous nation.

What We Hope to Influence

  • Preventing Regulatory Overreach: Given the switch to Democratic leadership in the White House and Senate, the risk of regulatory overreach is high, which would have major implications for the overall economy, particularly the energy, financial, and automotive sectors. Policy around climate change, banking regulations, and electrification of automobiles all have significant impact. Where reforms are needed, they should be sensible and market-based.
  • Ensuring Affordable Health Care: While we support the Affordable Care Act, moving toward a single payer option or having more people onto a public option increases private insurance costs for employers. Tweaks to health care policy need to be mindful of the impact on employers and cannot prohibit growth and job creation.
  • Unintended Consequences of $15 Minimum Wage: Taking steps to ensure more Americans earn sustainable wages is critical, but upping the minimum wage to $15 per hour will have unintended consequences and ultimately cost jobs. A stronger focus on education accessibility and attainment will go further to increasing social mobility and closing the wealth gap without eliminating jobs.
  • All Things Automotive and Manufacturing: We are watching policies ranging from electrification incentives to fuel efficiency standards to the “Buy American” executive order and measuring the impact on our signature automotive and manufacturing industries. Having an auto enthusiast in the White House who is familiar with Detroit should be a plus, but any changes impacting these industries and our interconnected supply chains, even minor ones, have an outsized impact here.
  • Trade Policy and Global Relationships: This is particularly critical to the region given we share a border with Canada. While rebuilding several relationships with countries around the globe is important, questions linger on trade policy that would significantly impact our key industries and leadership in next-generation mobility and smart manufacturing. What does trade with Asia post-TPP look like? Are there changes to United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in store? The Chamber and MICHauto will be monitoring.

The Chamber will continue to provide updates and work with national organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition on legislative priorities. Learn more about our advocacy efforts at detroitchamber.com/advocacy.