Who Cares What the Chamber of Commerce Thinks?

Traditionally, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has had clout not just because it has a lot of money, but also because it seems like the collective voice of American business is something you should take seriously when considering issues of economic management. But as Daniel Gross observes, we tried it their way and the results sucked:

The Chamber of Commerce may not have ruled the country during the Bush years. But it had the next best thing: a Republican administration in the White House and Republican control of Congress for most of that period. […] These policies, the Bush administration economic team promised us, would be superior to the ones that prevailed in the 1990s. And the proof would be in the numbers: jobs, market performance, income, wealth.


But it didn’t work out for anybody. By pretty much any measure, the years from 2001 to 2008 were lost ones. Job creation was extraordinarily weak by historical comparison. In September, on a seasonally adjusted basis there were 108.544 million private (nongovernment) payroll jobs, which is about the same number there were in June 1999. (To see the data, go here and then check “nonfarm private.”) 10 ten years, in other words, the private sector hasn’t created a single job. That’s pathetic, especially when you consider that the population grew 9 percent during those years, from 282 million in 2000 to 308 million today.

Or in chart form:

But though the Chamber-friendly Bush years were much worse economically than the Clinton years, the Bush years were pretty nice for the after tax income of well-compensated CEOs.