The Peter J. Tobin College of Business and St. John’s University’s School of Law hosted the President and Chief Executive Officer of one of the country’s most influential lobbying organizations for a wide-ranging discussion on March 19.
Thomas J. Donohue '63C, '85HON was interviewed by Norean R. Sharpe, Ph.D., Dean and Joseph H. and Maria C. Schwartz Distinguished Chair on a range of issues that touched on many topics including business ethics, free speech, the US trade deficit, free trade agreements, and tax reform. Mr. Donohue has led the US Chamber of Commerce for the last two decades, building it into a lobbying force whose influence is felt both nationally and globally.
“What we really are in business for,” Mr. Donohue observed about the Chamber, “is to represent and support the business community, originally in the United States, but now around the world.”
During his tenure at the Chamber, Mr. Donohue led efforts, among many others, to expand trade and domestic energy production, rebuild America’s infrastructure, revitalize capital markets, and aggressively advocate for tax and entitlement reform.
During the seminar, Mr. Donohue voiced his support for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which represents 14 million American jobs. “It is an arrangement between Mexico, the United States, and Canada which provides one of the most significant geopolitical, national security, and economic partnerships. It represents $1.37 trillion in commerce between the three countries. We are going to protect it.”
On tax reform, he said the Chamber supported lowering the tax rate on American corporations because it was the highest tax rate for companies anywhere in the world. Mr. Donohue believes the new tax laws will stimulate economic growth and create more jobs.
As an undergraduate, Mr. Donohue worked his way through St. John’s, and noted that the education he received underscored the importance of ethics and integrity in business. He stressed that there is a great advantage to studying at an institution that makes an effort to teach its students the value of dealing honestly.
“You cannot write a group of rules and create ethics,” he said. “Ethics are a way of living, and something you fundamentally believe in. People who do not get it straight are never going to get it straight.”
The Tobin CEO Seminar Series was inaugurated by Dean Sharpe in 2017, as a forum for distinguished St. John’s alumni to share their insight with the University community. Dean Sharpe noted that “the opportunity for our faculty and students to hear from such an experienced leader as Mr. Donohue on important topical and global issues was invaluable.”