The Republican-controlled Congress may be friendly to business interests, but it soon may become weary of them if industry continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth. On one hand, industry wants the federal government to take a hands-off approach - just lower the capital gains tax, abolish the Environmental Protection Agency and get out of the way.
Congressional leaders seem happy to oblige, and Republicans have made risk assessment their first battleground with the forces of federal paternalism.
Basically, risk assessment advocates want to require government agencies to prove that new regulations are worth the cost and effort required to implement them.
According to proponents, government regulations are stunting growth in America's economy unnecessarily. But despite the GOP majority, it may be tough to convince the public of the need to reign in government efforts to protect health, safety and the environment.
At the same time that some industry leaders are playing libertarian, other elements are pushing to save what they see as essential government programs.
The dichotomy is apparent at the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., which on one hand is pushing risk assessment as a high priority, while its Composites Institute division simultaneously urges members to fight to save composites' $160 million share of the Advanced Technology Program budget.
ATP provides funds to develop promising but high-risk technologies, like using composites in boat docks and bridges.
Industry portrays such programs as an investment in the future. Provide seed money now and government will receive a payoff down the road in efficiency, economic growth and increased tax base.
Plus, there's the fear factor: If the United States does not invest in new technology, our industry will lose out in the global marketplace to other nations that make the commitment, such as Japan.
SPI certainly appears to be in a sticky position, since it must represent the interests of such a diverse industry - some members of which believe they need government funding to survive, while others would prefer a government that is cheap and unobtrusive.
But it will be a tough sell to convince the public industry wants government off its back when some industry sectors seem to be asking for a free ride.