Yesterday in Washington, D.C., United States Chamber of Commerce president Thomas J. Donahue laid out a framework for the chamber to work with the administration and the new congress to improve the business environment. In reading the speech, one might think Donahue was speaking about the problems of California and offering solutions to our troubles here.

The key to improve California as well as the key for the American economy is to create jobs. Clearing the path to job creation takes changes in the regulation-at-all-costs mindset. Donahue called the onset of too many rules a “regulation tsunami.” That charge echoes for the business community in California.

Donahue also pointed to dealing with the debt (in California we need to tame the deficit), improve our infrastructure, and encourage small business. All issues for improving California’s economic future.

Donahue titled his speech, “ A Nation at Risk.” Few would argue California is a state at risk. Scholar and historian Kevin Starr suggested a year ago California could be the first “failed state.”

To avoid that possibility, California must encourage economic growth. That means California must encourage business, big and small. If allowed to expand, small business will create the jobs that will lower the state’s staggering unemployment rate. However, for small business, paying first the cost of regulations and potential higher taxes means less revenue for business expansion, which means job creation is delayed or cancelled.

Donohue offered key areas to improve the American economy and the job market. As you read the U.S. Chamber’s agenda think how applicable most, if not all, proposals are to helping California out of its doldrums.

Supporting sensible regulations – The Chamber is adding resources, including a regulatory economist and greater activism in our two legal organizations, to support sensible regulations and oppose regulations that unnecessarily stifle job creation.

Doubling exports – Launching a major education and advocacy initiative to change the debate on trade; highlighting the benefits, opportunities, and competitive realities to expanding trade.

Addressing the debt crisis – Undertaking an "economic risk assessment" to identify threats and vulnerabilities to the explosion of government debt, and act on these risks through tax and entitlement reform and deficit reduction measures.

Rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – The Chamber is releasing a series of annual performance indexes covering the major components of our nation’s infrastructure – transportation, energy, water, and broadband – to document our needs and build the case for investments.

Creating an innovation society – By launching the U.S. Forum for Policy Innovation, the Chamber will drive serious education and worker training reform, expand corporate social responsibility across the globe, and preserve, protect, and advance the free enterprise system.

Empowering small businesses – For small business leaders’ voices to be heard, the Chamber will leverage its federation to establish a team of small business advocates who will travel the country and speak to organizations and the media on the challenges facing entrepreneurs. This includes deepening our engagement with local chambers, young entrepreneurs, Hispanic and African-American businesses, while also highlighting the interdependence between small and large companies.

Defending free speech for businesses – The Chamber will redouble its efforts to defend our First Amendment rights to lobby, communicate with voters, communicate with employees, and do so without harassment or undue restrictions.