Each year, the California Chamber of Commerce chooses a few dozen bills it and other business groups oppose and labels them as "job killers" for imposing new regulations, business costs or taxes.
All are carried by Democratic legislators and most are sponsored by labor unions, environmental groups, consumer activists and personal injury lawyers.
Despite strong Democratic majorities in the Legislature, the chamber and its allies have been remarkably successful in blocking or neutralizing the targeted measures. Only a few have made it through the Legislature and most of the survivors have been vetoed by governors of both parties.
It's been frustrating for the sponsoring groups, which explains why Consumer Attorneys of California, whose bills have often been tagged with the "job killer" epithet, is distributing a study by two university professors that charts the "job killer" campaign in California and other states and chastises the media for repeating the term, saying they "contribute to the deterioration of honest political discourse."
Peter Dreier of Occidental College in Los Angeles and Christopher Martin of the University of Northern Iowa studied use of the "job killer" term in four national media outlets and say that while it's been widely used, its veracity, when applied to a specific piece of legislation or regulatory action, has rarely been investigated.
"At the state level, California has been a hotbed of 'job killer' allegations," they write, adding, "the news media often simply repeat the Chamber's own label of these proposed bills as 'job killers' without providing any scrutiny or analysis."
They cited as one example a 2011 Associated Press story about a California bill to ban use of polystyrene containers for food purchases. However, the story did not apply the term gratuitously, but rather attributed the label to the Chamber of Commerce, as do virtually all uses of the term, which is standard journalistic practice.
By the way, the chamber's current 25-bill "job killer" list can be found here.