Chamber of Commerce is Latest GOP Ally To Undermine Party's Economic Argument

January 20, 2012 3:36 pm ET — Jamison Foser

With friends like these, who needs enemies? 

Another Republican-leaning interest group has undermined the core Republican economic argument that businesses aren't hiring because of onerous government regulations and excessive taxation. The falsity of that argument has long been clear to experts and economists — a lack of demand, not the Clean Water Act, is keeping businesses from hiring. But lately, even right-wing groups like the National Federation of Independent Business have been producing surveys showing that small business owners themselves insist they aren't hiring because customers aren't buying. 

Now a new survey from the Chamber of Commerce — as loyal an ally as the Republican Party has — offers yet more evidence that small businesses recognize what GOP politicians won't admit: The nation's economic problem is a lack of demand, not an excess of government. The Chamber's latest quarterly Small Business Outlook Survey finds that roughly 85 percent of small business owners say they aren't hiring because of economic uncertainty or lack of sales (which, for these purposes at least, are synonymous):

Chamber of Commerce report

Note the portion of that passage the Chamber of Commerce chose to put in bold font: "Washington is part of the problem, as well." The Chamber chose to highlight that part — and only that part — despite the fact that its own survey found concerns about Washington were far less common than concerns about demand. That isn't particularly surprising — again, the Chamber of Commerce is a loyal ally to Republicans, and ideologically committed to attacking government regulations and taxes, no matter what its members actually think. (NFIB has similarly tried to spin away the results of its own surveys.) When even the Chamber of Commerce, while trying desperately to focus attention on regulations, is forced to acknowledge that "Economic uncertainty is still the overwhelming issue facing most small businesses," there's simply no basis for Republicans to continue pretending otherwise.