This week, the Chamber of Commerce announced a $100 million campaign “to defend and advance economic freedom.” Chamber President Tom Donohue proclaimed the campaign “one of the most important and necessary initiatives in our nearly 100-year history.”
Never missing an opportunity to promote the interests of the business lobby, CNBC dedicated its “Most Underplayed News Story” segment last night to the Chamber’s campaign, with host Dennis Kneale proclaiming “it’s about time business started fighting back.” Not surprisingly, all of Kneale’s guests agreed. Watch it:
First, the claim that this story was “underplayed” is spurious at best. Politico essentially repackaged the Chamber’s press release announcing the campaign into an article, and both the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek covered the campaign’s launch. In fact, C-Span thought the campaign was important enough to merit asking Vice President Biden’s economic adviser Jared Bernstein about it on Washington Journal yesterday.
But more importantly, this notion that the business lobby hasn’t been fighting the Obama administraion’s agenda until now — thus making the Chamber’s campaign vitally necessary — is absolutely ludicrous. Consider:
— The Chamber partnered with the National Foreign Trade Counci, Business Roundtable, and the National Association of Manufacturers, and threatened to “spend whatever it takes” to defeat President Obama’s corporate tax reforms.
— The Chamber, in conjunction with other business interests, “said they will spend about $200 million on advertising and lobbying” against the Employee Free Choice Act.
— During the stimulus debate, the Chamber released a plan that centered on corporate and capital gains tax cuts.
And none of this takes into account the vast influence that the banking industry has had over the legislative debate so far this year. The Chamber is merely throwing another $100 million into an already intense effort to bog down the administration’s health care, climate change, and tax reform agendas.
Earlier this year, Duke Energy left the National Association of Manufacturers “because of disagreements with the lobbying group’s stance on climate change policy.” So far, no one has rebuked the Chamber, but are companies like Nike, IBM, and UPS (which all have spots on the Chamber’s board of directors) okay with this campaign of obstructionism?