Frank talk about an earlier Chamber of Commerce study
By Alec MacGillis
When The Washington Post obtained an e-mail from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce soliciting donations to fund a health care reform study with seemingly foreordained results, Chamber officials denied that they were seeking findings that were anything less than objective.
"It's not saying that we would tell the economist [conducting the study] how it should come out," Chamber senior vice president Randy Johnson told The Post's Michael Shear on Sunday. "It's based on what we think the economist will come out with. It doesn't mean we know what the economist will come out with."
But earlier this year, Johnson was far more candid about the nature of the studies commissioned by business groups to buttress their side in legislative battles. At a breakfast meeting at Chamber headquarters, Johnson urged the business people to tout the findings of a report that had been released just the week before by the Alliance to Save Main Street Jobs, a business coalition.
"We spent a lot of money to come up with this study," he told the business leaders. "It's not what these economic studies say -- it's the cover they give to members who are going to be with us."
The report, written by Anne Layne-Farrar, an economist from LECG Consulting and titled An Empirical Assessment of the Employee Free Choice Act: The Economic Implication, found that an increase in 1.5 million union members in one year would lead to the loss of 600,000 jobs by the following year. "Jobs losses directly attributed to the passage of card check legislation would be equal to the entire population of Boston or seventy-five percent of San Francisco," the Chamber's press release on the report stated.
In the confines of the Chamber hall, though, Johnson was refreshingly open about the "empirical" nature of the card-check report. The unions had ordered up their own studies, Johnson noted, and this was the business community's counter.
That language echoed the tone of the e-mail solicitation that recently went out from the Chamber's senior health policy manager, which proposed spending $50,000 to hire a "respected economist" to study the impact of health care legislation: "The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document."
The earlier study appears to have helped the Chamber stall card-check legislation. Whether the health care study does the trick as well remains to be seen.
Web Politics Editor
November 16, 2009; 1:24 PM ET
Categories: 44 Native , Economy
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