The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called for an extension of the Bush tax cuts at its annual Labor Day briefing on Thursday. Businesses have built up capital during the recession, and having to absorb tax increases now would discourage them from hiring and creating new jobs, said Martin Regalia, the chamber's chief economist. Regalia referenced the 2001 recession, saying that the economy didn't start growing again until after the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act was enacted in 2003. It's a cycle: If the businesses don't hire, then people won't have jobs and won't spend money, and the economy will continue to be in a slump, Regalia said. "The most important thing Washington can do for the economy is to take action immediately to prevent massive tax increases on America's consumers and businesses," he said. Regalia also said the tax increases that came during the Clinton administration increased the gap between the wealthy and the poor, whereas George W. Bush's tax cuts — enacted in 2001 and 2003 — kept the gap at the same level. Also at the briefing, Randy Johnson, the chamber's senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, outlined some of the group's priorities in the coming months, including its opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act and a push for Occupational Health and Safety Administration reform.