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Posted at 2:49 PM ET, 01/11/2011

'The state of American business is improving'

By Ezra Klein

That's the bottom line that Tom Donahue, president of the Chamber of Commerce, delivered in his "State of American Business" address this morning. A double-dip is unlikely. The recovery seems to be picking up steam. "Overall, we believe the economy will expand by 3.2 percent in 2011 and create 2.4 to 2.6 million net new jobs by the end of the year." That would bring down unemployment by about one percentage point. "Improving" is not the same as "strong."

To help us get to strong, the Chamber of Commerce is "doing what any smart coach or political candidate would do before a big game or important campaign — and that is to learn everything there is to know about their own strengths and weaknesses and those of their competitors." Their new comparative-policy project will release its conclusions in the spring. It'll be interesting to see what the report says about government-run health-care systems, which hold down costs and cover everyone in other developed nations, but which have been opposed by, among others, the Chamber of Commerce in this country.

From there, the speech gets into the chamber's agenda for the year. They're against regulations of any and all sorts, and for infrastructure investment, tax reform, comprehensive immigration reform and trade deals. They will also "support efforts by Republican and Democratic governors to challenge public employee unions and their excessive payroll, health, and retirement demands."

The Chamber of Commerce is as powerful an interest group as exists right now, so you can expect that the White House and others are looking at this speech very carefully.

By Ezra Klein  | January 11, 2011; 2:49 PM ET
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"The Chamber of Commerce is as powerful an interest group as exists right now, so you can expect that the White House and others are looking at this speech very carefully."

Not that true. Are they powerful than NRA? No way. No society is so blithely allows killing of it's own people while continuing to expand 'gun culture'. You betcha - that is American Exceptionalism! Bring on Wild Wild West (even though West Coast is running away from that lunacy).

Read NYT Editorial and decide who is powerful.

You can not fault Obama. He knows very his b*lls are. No, he is 'wise statesman' to call peace with NRA, he is perfectly fine with 'date rape' called Bipartisanship and hence perfectly okay to concede everything to Gun Lobby / NRA.

Posted by: umesh409 | January 11, 2011 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Comparative policy project? Is that like a 'death panel' for policy?

Posted by: rcd2 | January 11, 2011 3:18 PM | Report abuse

yeah - those union folk - COC much prefers those modestly paid CEO types -
Company: Boston Scientific Ray Elliott

Cash compensation: $4 million
Stock and options: $29.4 million

The medical supplies company CEO had a base salary of just under $600,000 -- the lowest on the list -- after taking the company's reins in July. But he still managed to place second on this list by taking home $14.2 million in stock awards and $15.2 million in stock options.

Boston Scientific returned to profitability in the third quarter last year, but still managed to lose $1 billion over the course of the year. In October, the company slashed its outlook, expecting demand for its products to erode in 2010. The company's stock trailed its competitors' but still managed to rise 14%, despite its disappointing forecast and financials. ....... Or the top guys at these companies, from the WSJ " shareholders of another tech giant, Dell Inc., lost 66% of the value of their stock during the decade, while CEO Michael Dell, who launched the computer maker in his dorm room in the 1980s, brought home $454 million.

Four of the 10 highest-earning executives ran companies whose shareholders lost money over the decade: IAC/InterActive, Countrywide, Capital One and Cendant Corp. " Or SEC filings of Private Insurance CEO compensation
- "

* Aetna, Ronald A. Williams: $24,300,112
* Cigna, H. Edward Hanway: $12,236,740
* Coventry, Dale Wolf: $9,047,469
* Health Net, Jay Gellert: $4,425,355
* Humana, Michael McCallister: $4,764,309
* U. Health Group, Stephen J. Hemsley: $3,241,042
* Wellpoint, Angela Braly: $9,844,212

Posted by: winchestereast | January 11, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Where was the COC when insurance premiums were going thru the roof and the head of United HealthCare was making @ $205,000,000 in annual compensation - that's a lot of health care dollars in one pocket

Posted by: winchestereast | January 11, 2011 3:25 PM | Report abuse

For the life of me cannot understand why US business is/was opposed to single payer health care , why do they want to be in the health care business?

Posted by: sligowoman | January 11, 2011 4:03 PM | Report abuse


the national Chamber doesn't represent business; they're a far-right front group that has captured control of what was, formerly, a business advocacy group.

Am I the only one weirded out that they're attacking OTHER PEOPLE having unions? It's not enough to have crushed their own...

Posted by: adamiani | January 11, 2011 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"...learn everything there is to know about their own strengths and weaknesses and those of their competitors."

Who the heck are the "competitors" of the economy? Wild animals? Hermits? Anarcho-syndicalist communes?

Posted by: tomveiltomveil | January 11, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

More from Donohue's annual “State of American Business” speech:

“In recent years, we have seen an unprecedented explosion of new regulatory activity,” this “regulatory tsunami poses, in our view, the single biggest challenge to jobs, our global competitiveness and the future of American enterprise.” [...] “The new health-care law creates 159 new agencies, commissions, panels and other bodies” [...] “We see the upcoming House vote [on repeal] as an opportunity for everyone to take a fresh look at health-care reform.”

It's interesting that businesses have had a brighter outlook ever since the November elections: perhaps the presence of a more business-friendly government -- a check on the unwanted and unwarranted expansion of government into business and personal matters -- actually does help the economy improve.

Posted by: rmgregory | January 11, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

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