Pearlstein: Corporate Profits Have Returned, But Hiring American Workers Has Not


In today's Washington Post, Steven Pearlstein highlights the hypocrisy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others who are blaming the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress for continued high unemployment when annual corporate profits have rebounded to a staggering $1.2 trillion — “higher than they were at the height of the bubble” and yet hiring of American workers remains stalled:

On the outside of its majestic headquarters in Washington, across the park from the White House, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently hung four giant banners that spell out exactly what it thinks is missing from the current economy: J-O-B-S.

This is a particularly Orwellian bit of political theater, given that it is the private businesses the Chamber purports to represent that eliminated 8 million jobs in 2008 and 2009 and have managed to add a scant 600,000 since then. If Chamber President Tom Donohue wants to round up those responsible for the lack of job growth in this country, all he has to do is call a meeting of his board of directors.

Although the jobs haven’t returned, corporate profits surely have and, at $1.2 trillion annually, are now higher than they were at the height of the bubble…

…it is more than a bit hypocritical for business leaders to pin the blame on the Obama administration for their own failure to create private-sector jobs, as they have been doing lately.

Pearlstein also notes that Tom Donahue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was a “vocal skeptic” of the government's auto industry rescue which turned out to be an “unqualified success”:

The government used its leverage to force the companies to make the painful changes they should have made years before, and then backed off and let the companies run themselves without any noticeable interference.

…For the first time since 2004, GM and Chrysler, along with Ford, all reported operating profits in their U.S. businesses last quarter. The domestic auto industry added 55,000 jobs last year, ending a decade-long string of declines. Auto sector exports are up 57 percent so far this year and, thanks largely to new government regulations, the industry is moving quickly to introduce more fuel-efficient vehicles. Most surprising of all, GM and Chrysler have already repaid more than $8 billion in government loans, while GM is preparing for an initial stock offering later this year that would allow the government to recoup most, if not all, of its investment.

There was a time, not long ago, when real business leaders encouraged these kind of public-private partnerships. If the Chamber of Commerce were as interested in creating jobs as it is in promoting its free-market ideology, it would hang a new message on its columned facade for the president to see:

T-H-A-N-K-S.

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