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Chamber, Obama: War of Words Escalates

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Campaign for Free Enterprise held its "Jobs for America: Summit 2010" on Wednesday, with the stated goal of finding ways to stimulate job growth in America.

It did, at the very least, stimulate a few hours of escalation in the war of words between the Chamber and the administration of President Barack Obama.

Speakers in the summit included Chamber of Commerce Chairman Tom Bell, U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue and financial advice guru Charles Schwab. And the general consensus of the primarily right-leaning group of panelists: promoting growth in the private sector as a means to creating jobs. Bell and several other speakers urged the government to cut back on spending in order to improve confidence and reduce uncertainty among the private sector.

It is an open secret that the Obama administration and the Chamber of Commerce have been waging a recent Cold War of sorts. In the latest maneuver in the battle, the administration noted that the Chamber rejected a request from White House adviser Valerie Jarrett to speak at the summit. "We would have loved to have gone and participated. We weren't invited. In fact we were told not to come," Jarrett said, during an interview on Bloomberg Television.

The Chamber, for its part, said the program was too full to accommodate Jarrett.

Inside the hours-long event, there was less discord. "Uncertainty is the probably the biggest factor retarding economic growth," Martin Regalia, U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief economist said, who added that while the economy has grown an average of about 3.5% in past years, it isn't, by his reckoning, growing fast enough to keep the U.S. out of a double-dip recession.

Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, both commissioners on President Barack Obama's bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, stressed the importance of reigning in the national debt. "This debt is like a cancer," Bowles said, "it is going to destroy this country from within if we don't address it." Both Bowles and Simpson called for the government to reform taxes in order to bring about some fiscal sanity.

Tom Donohue, who has been President of the U.S. Chamber since 1997, called for a "rational tax policy that reflects the tough economy and the competitive world." Donohue railed against Obama administration economic policies, and expressed his opinion that regulations put in place by the government have made the financial problem far worse.

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