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Commerce Secretary hits back at US Chamber: ‘Get in here’ and compromise on tax hikes

<i>Drew Angerer/Getty Images/FILE</i><br/>The White House's top emissary to the business community
Drew Angerer
Drew Angerer/Getty Images/FILE
The White House's top emissary to the business community

By Matt Egan

The White House’s top emissary to the business community hit back at the US Chamber of Commerce Thursday after the powerful lobby launched an ad blitz aimed at sinking President Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion infrastructure and spending plan.

“I was very disappointed in that. It’s not productive. It’s not helpful,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CNN. “What they should be doing is coming to the table, talking to us and telling us what they can live with.”

The US Chamber on Wednesday launched its first paid advertising campaign opposing Democrats’ reconciliation package, which calls for vast investments in childcare, education and clean energy.

The business group warned that “massive” tax hikes to pay for those investments would be a “body blow to our economy” and hurt working families.

“This is good for business,” Raimondo said. “I understand they have issues with the tax increases. That’s very fair. So come to the table. And be part of the solution.”

The US Chamber ad blitz focused solely on the plan’s tax hikes and Suzanne Clark, the association’s CEO, described the legislation in a statement as an “existential threat to America’s fragile economic recovery and future prosperity.”

“The president is showing leadership. He showed a plan. He has said he’s willing to compromise,” Raimondo said in the interview. “Get in here and let’s do the hard work of compromise to get something done for the American people.”

Raimondo, a former venture capitalist and governor of Rhode Island, has more business experience than almost anyone in the Biden Cabinet. In her daily discussions with CEOs, Raimondo said she hears a desire for better infrastructure, broadband, worker training and apprenticeships — all things in the Build Back Better plan.

“There is a lot in this package that is very good for American business and American workers,” Raimondo said. “And it will be very bad for our economy if we don’t get it done.”

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