What does US Chamber of Commerce think about a government shutdown? (video)

A government shutdown wouldn't affect economic growth that much, said Thomas Donohue, president of the US Chamber of Commerce, at a Monitor breakfast Friday.

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor
Thomas Donohue (r.), president of the US Chamber of Commerce, and R. Bruce Josten, the organization's executive vice president for government affairs, at a Monitor breakfast in Washington on Friday.

A government shutdown is not likely to have a major impact on the US economy, says Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business voice in America's capital.

At a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Friday, Mr. Donohue was asked about the prospect of a government shutdown if the White House, the Republican-controlled House, and the Democratic-controlled Senate cannot come to an agreement on spending for the rest of this fiscal year.

“No, I don’t think it upsets economic growth that much. It certainly upsets people that have to run our government,” Donohue said.

He prefaced his remarks by noting that the government has been closed frequently in the past, usually for short time periods.

“We have had shutdowns starting in 1975 – about 15 or 20 times to this point. Most of them were very short. One of them was 21 days, but most of them were a day and half, two days, three days, five days,” Donohue said.

Donohue took a much more relaxed view about the economic effects of a potential shutdown than the White House. Speaking to reporters Thursday evening in the White House briefing room, President Obama said, “So, again: 800,000 federal workers and their families impacted; millions of people who are reliant on government services not getting those services -- businesses, farmers, veterans; and finally, overall impact on the economy that could end up severely hampering our recovery and our ability to put people back to work."

Donohue said at the breakfast he did not see a villain in the budget struggle. “This is a great sparring match where hopefully they don’t close the government because that is just a pain in the neck. But we are ready for whatever they do,” he said.

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