I don't think the Chamber of Commerce could possibly hire a "respected economist" because any economist working for this group would lose whatever respect they might have:
Health bill foes solicit funds for economic study, by Michael D. Shear, Washington Post: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an assortment of national business groups opposed to President Obama's health-care reform effort are collecting money to finance an economic study that could be used to portray the legislation as a job killer and threat to the nation's economy, according to an e-mail solicitation from a top Chamber official.
The e-mail ... proposes spending $50,000 to hire a "respected economist" to study the impact of health-care legislation ... would have on jobs and the economy.
Step two, according to the e-mail, appears to assume the outcome of the economic review: "The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document." ... In the e-mail, Gelfand writes that the proposal was "suggested by our Congressional allies" but does not specify who those allies are. ...
Randy Johnson, the Chamber's senior vice president who handles health-care issues, called the e-mail "inartfully worded" and said the group never intended to suggest that the outcome of the study would be preordained.
"It's not saying that we would tell the economist how it should come out. Perhaps it wasn't artfully phrased," Johnson said. "It's based on what we think the economist will come out with. It doesn't mean we know what the economist will come out with." ... Asked whether the Chamber would release the study if it concluded that the health bill would increase jobs and improve the economy, he initially said, "We would cross that bridge if we came to it."
Moments later, he said, that on reflection, a positive finding from the economist would help to educate the business groups and would play a role in the position they take on the legislation. "If it was like, oh wow, well, it doesn't have the kind of adverse impact we thought, that would educate us," he said.
What are the odds that this is the first time the Chamber of Commerce has commissioned a "study" like this?