The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent the White House an "open letter" laying out a proposed roadmap to economic recovery, coinciding with the organization's "Jobs Summit" underway in Washington. The Chamber is an ultra-conservative political operation primarily funded by a handful of large companies. It plans to spend more than $50 million electing Republicans to Congress in 2010.
The Chamber's four-page letter offers a variety of suggestions for job creation, though it doesn't appear that they flipped past the first few pages of the free-market playbook when brainstorming the proposal. The ideas include deregulation of business, tax cuts for the wealthy, free trade agreements, a reduced corporate income tax, expanded offshore drilling and logging in national forests and the privatization of waterways and roads.
Specifically, the Chamber urges the president to extend Bush-era tax cuts in full and provide tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas.
The Chamber simultaneously calls for a reduction in the deficit -- a gap caused largely by the tax cuts the Chamber wants extended, which are projected to add $3.4 trillion to the debt between 2009 and 2019.
The Chamber, however, blames rising Social Security costs. While it looks forward to the recommendations of the deficit commission, says the organization, "we already know that mandatory spending, especially in entitlements, is the primary culprit. And the situation will only get worse as the population ages. Instead of expanding entitlements, as the administration and Congress have been doing, we must modernize those programs without further delay."
"Modernization" was the term used by Congress as it deregulated the financial services industry over the past 25 years.
A variety of other proposals would result in lavish public spending on hotly-debated technologies and an increase in the deficit. "Incentives and legal surety for investment in clean coal technologies, carbon capture systems, and massive expansion of nuclear power would also create hundreds of thousands of jobs at all skill levels while helping address environmental challenges," reads the letter.
The political organization also wants control of public resources. "If America's transportation and water infrastructure, for instance, was fully open to private investment, the $180 billion available today in private capital could generate more than 1.5 million jobs over 10 years. Greater private investment in broadband would also foster economic development and create jobs," suggests the Chamber.
Eddie Vale, a spokesman for the AFL-CIO, denounced the Chamber's policy ideas. "Big corporations and Wall Street had their way for eight years under the Bush administration and we're just beginning to undo the damage," he said. "Which corporation is the model to show there is too much government regulation? The Wall Street firms that tanked the economy? Massey mining that killed miners when its long record of safety violations was left to continue? BP that killed people and is still destroying the Gulf as we speak, when their long record of violations wasn't punished?"