President Obama is speaking today to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The press is reporting this as an effort to be “pro-business,” to “patch up” relations with business, to “reach out” to business, to “court” business and to begin a “thaw” or “truce”with “business leaders.”
If the President really wants to be pro-business he should stay away from this partisan lobbying group. The Chamber of Commerce pushes policies that hurt most businesses and most Americans. The president should side with the 99% of American businesses that are not giant multi-nationals or Wall Street con artists.
Chamber Is Anti-Business
The Chamber of Commerce is not “pro-business” it is anti-business. The Chamber represents Wall Street and the giant multinationals that have used their vast sums of money to corrupt our politics to pass legislation that favors these giants over other businesses. They have pushed policies that block small and medium businesses from competing with these giants.
The Chamber pushes policies that hurt businesses,
- that want a chance to compete on a level playing field with adequate oversight and accountability, by promoting policies that give advantages, tax breaks and other favors to the huge, multinational corporations that the Chamber really represents;
- that want to develop clean and green energy sources like solar and wind, by promoting policies that maintain the dominance of the oil and coal industries and even promoting claims that climate change is a hoax;
- that want to offer or receive new, less-predatory financial services, as well as businesses that need credit from reliable and honest financial partners, by opposing financial regulation and the Consumer Financial Protection Agency;
- that want to manufacture in the US and/or sell to Americans with jobs that pay good wages, by promoting “free trade” policies that ship factories and job overseas and by opposing a worker’s right to join a union.
A Partisan Lobbying Group
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a Republican-affiliated lobbying group, not an organization representing the breadth of large and small American businesses. It only calls itself a “business” group to provide a mask for its partisan activities, but it is a hard-core partisan, political organization. For example, Fox News recently donated $1million to the Chamber’s efforts to elect Republicans, and only Republicans,
The News Corporation, whose holdings include The Wall Street Journal and the Fox News Channel, has donated $1 million to the United States Chamber of Commerce, the business advocacy group that is among the heaviest anti-Democratic advertisers in this year’s elections.
The Chamber took in $86 million from the insurance industry to oppose his health care reform and is now pushing repeal.
Not Small, Not Local
Politico recently reported that local Chambers of Commerce are being alienated by the US Chamber’s tactics and policies. In Angry member groups shun Chamber reported,
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is under fire from some local chambers over its hard-hitting $75 million ad campaign to elect a Republican House, with dozens of groups distancing themselves from the effort and a handful even quitting the national group in protest.
. . . The U.S. Chamber prides itself on a take-no-prisoners approach to power in Washington. Community-based chambers generally operate in a manner that encourages bipartisanship and consensus while shunning the edgy partisanship that became the hallmark of the national office’s 2010 political strategy.
The Chamber doesn’t even represent that many businesses. According to the Chamber’s website tries to make it appear as if the organization represents a large number of businesses “of all sizes”:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. More than 96% of U.S. Chamber members are small businesses with 100 employees or fewer.
Actually the Chamber has about 300,000 members. This is a clue indicating how this organization operates. They mask. They misrepresent their membership to mask their partisan, anti-American-business agenda.
Not Even American Businesses?
There are even questions about whether the Chamber represents American businesses or businesses from other countries. During the election the Chamber was reported to be accepting money from non-American companies and using that money to run campaign ads against candidates who wanted the US government to better represent American companies in the world marketplace.
The Chamber’s spending has dwarfed every other issue group and most political party candidate committee spending. A ThinkProgress investigation has found that the Chamber funds its political attack campaign out of its general account, which solicits foreign funding.
The President should remember that the Chamber is not a friend of most American businesses, not a friend of working people and certainly not a friend of him or his party. It is not going to be our frond or his friend, no matter how much he reaches out to them. He would do better to support American businesses that believe in America and the American people.
March 10 Summit on Jobs and America’s Future
On March 10, 2011, the Summit on Jobs and America’s Future will bring together leaders and activists who understand that America faces a jobs crisis – and who are committed to building a political movement for sustainable economic growth, dynamic job creation, and a revival of the American economy.
Free. $15 with lunch. Register here.