Chamber v. Obama: Jobs Throwdown

| Wed Jul. 14, 2010 9:42 AM EDT

On Wednesday the US Chamber of Commerce hosts its much-anticipated jobs summit here in Washington, dubbed "Let's Talk Jobs," and to keep things feisty, the Chamber's president previewed the event by ripping the Obama administration for stifling job creation and generally being anti-business. In an open letter to the White House set for release today, Chamber president and CEO Tom Donohue says the administration has "created an economic environment that is fundamentally incompatible with our desire to expand investment and create jobs." The letter, excerpted by Politico, goes on to say, "Uncertainty is the enemy of growth, investment, and job creation. Through their legislative and regulatory proposals—some passed, some pending, and others simply talked about—Congress and the administration have created an economic environment that is fundamentally incompatible with our desire to expand investment and create jobs."

At the same time, Stan Anderson, who leads the Chamber's Campaign for Free Enterprise, told the Wall Street Journal that "We are not going to engage in a debate over whether the White House is pro- or anti-business. We really want to talk about policy." From the looks of it, however, there's no debate needed—huge swaths of the business community, fairly or not, already believe the White House is anti-business.

The administration, predictably, responded today by releasing a report laying out the number of jobs saved or created through the White House's efforts to jump-start the economy, like the hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus funds. By the end of June, the report says, the stimulus had boosted employment by 2.5 million to 3.6 million jobs and raised the nation's GDP by about 3 percent. Christina Romer, one of the president's top economic advisers, will also hold a conference call at noon hammering away at the White House's job creation efforts and pushing back against the Chamber and Donohue.

The Chamber's event today certainly won't sing the praises of the stimulus. Its roster of speakers includes fiscal conservatives like Sen. Judd Gregg (R-RI), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), and Erskine Bowles, who co-chairs Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The solutions tossed out will probably be revolve in some way around tax cuts—in other words, liberal economist Paul Krugman's worst nightmare. But at a time when there's a 9.5 percent unemployment rate, there are nearly six jobless workers for every one available job, and nearly half of all unemployed have been out of work for six months or more, any discussion of how to get the American job machine chugging again is worth having.