Today, the Chamber of Commerce launched a $100 million campaign to “defend the free-market system,” with an accompanying piece in Politico that, as Josh Marshall noted, reads like a Chamber press release. Chamber President Tom Donohue said that the campaign, “which he’s dubbed the Campaign for Free Enterprise, could become the most important project the Chamber has embraced in its nearly 100-year history”:
Donohue will begin raising money for the project this summer and roll it out in stages. As envisioned, the campaign will include a grass-roots lobbying component that will tap the strength of the Chamber’s network of small businesses and business and trade associations. A public education ad buy defending the free enterprise system is in the works, as well as an issue advocacy program tied to the 2010 midterm elections. “We’re going to hold politicians accountable as we defend and advance economic freedom,” Donohue said.
Of course, by “defend and advance economic freedom,” Donohue really means that the Chamber will be spending $100 million to try to maintain the pro-corporate status quo in a host of areas. The Chamber plans to try and get its stamp on just about every piece of legislation that’s coming down the pike, including, but not limited to: Cap-and-trade, health care reform, regulatory reform, and corporate tax reform.
Despite the economy’s collapse, and the common sense economic reasons for addressing health care and climate change, the Chamber has decided that these ideas somehow threaten freedom as we know it. Maybe it, like the Heritage Foundation, wants to import the “economic freedom” of dictatorial East Asian city states.
The Chamber has, in the past, engaged in some over-the-top rhetoric to present its point of view. For instance, it called the Employee Free Choice Act a “firestorm bordering on Armageddon,” while claiming that regulating pollution would “strangle the economy.” But calling this project of obstruction and corporatism “the most important” it’s ever done may take the cake, and it certainly shows where the Chamber’s priorities truly lie.