Earlier this month, the Chamber of Commerce announced the $100 million Campaign for Free Enterprise, which Chamber President Tom Donohue called the “most important project the Chamber has embraced in its nearly 100-year history.” With the campaign, the Chamber is attempting to influence and obstruct a slew of upcoming legislation, including cap-and-trade, health care reform, and financial regulatory reform. On Wednesday, in fact, the Chamber condemned the House Democrats’ health care bill, calling it “broken beyond repair” and advocating that Congress “take this legislation back to the drawing board.”
Previously, no one had rebuked the Chamber’s approach. But last night, Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric, appeared on Charlie Rose and said that businesses spending money to obstruct legislation like this is “just lunacy“:
From a business standpoint, the notion that businesses are going to put a bunch of money in ads to protect the status quo is just lunacy. It’s just not what we should be doing right now. Like I said, when I think about health care in a GE context, we’re going to win some, we’re going to lose some on health care. But I think it would be totally inappropriate for GE to be saying we don’t need health care reform right now. We do.
It’s in the interest of big business to get health care costs down, a notion that Immelt seems to grasp. As Igor Volsky pointed out, our health care system — by leaving so many uninsured and not embracing new technologies or comparative effectiveness research — “inflates health care costs and expects businesses to pick-up the tab.” General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner has admitted that a national health care program could have helped the auto industry avert financial disaster.
So are there any other corporation’s out there that also think the Chamber’s campaign is lunacy? Or do the likes of Nike, UPS, and Duke Energy all believe that the Chamber is really doing what’s best for business?
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.