Chamber President Warms to White House, Cautions Against Overregulation

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday warned that excessive regulation and sluggish job creation could stunt economic recovery, but praised the White House for improving its tone toward the private sector.

"We will continue to have agreements and disagreements, but I believe we're moving in the right direction," C.E.O. Thomas Donohue told FOX News after laying out the lobby's goals in his annual "State of the Business" address.

In the address, Donohue said he approved of White House chief of staff pick Bill Daley and praised what he called the administration's "new tone" toward the business community.

The White House accused the chamber of funneling in foreign funds to influence outcomes of the 2010 midterm elections, and Donohue has criticized President Obama's economic policies in the past.

But Tuesday's remarks reinforce an apparent rapprochement between the White House and the business lobby. President Obama is slated to address chamber next month.

"The state of American business is improving," Donohue said, citing the tax package passed during the lame duck session of Congress as a measure that could give jobs "a significant boost." "Last year we were worried about a double dip recession. Today we are cautiously optimistic that the recovery will continue and pick up steam as the year progresses."

But Donohue cautioned that while the White House's "tone" adjustment and tax rate compromise have assuaged the business community's immediate concerns, his optimism is tempered by other concerns over excessive regulation and sluggish job growth. "There are many unanswered questions about regulations, taxes, and other policies that must be addressed in order to unleash aggressive hiring by the private sector," he said.

Expressing his support for efforts to repeal the controversial health care law in the U.S. House of Representatives, Donohue named the potential cost of the law as one of the x-factors that are making businesses shy to hire and invest.

Pending Environmental Protection Agency regulations on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as overly restrictive tariffs could also threaten job creation and economic growth, Donohue said.

"The critical issue is to take away the uncertainty, expand and double our exports as the president has thoughtfully suggested, move very, very aggressively to deal with these explosive regulatory activities, [and] put some serious investment in our infrastructure," Donahue told FOX News after the address. "[That's] a great way to improve our productivity, and an extraordinary way to create new jobs."