The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced a multi-state voter “education” ad blitz late last week. Tom Donohue, the group’s president and CEO, says the ads focus on a simple question: “Is big government or free enterprise the solution to our country’s economic problems?”
The blitz features an array of 30-second TV spots aimed at bucking up vulnerable Republican incumbents, supporting GOP House and Senate hopefuls, and criticizing Democrats. One spot supports Blue Dog Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT).
But there is a large element of hypocrisy and contradiction in the spots. One typical ad praises former Sen. George Allen (R-VA), who was defeated in 2006 following his infamous bullying of an Indian-American campaign tracker who he called “macaca” and is seeking his party’s nomination for the same senate seat this November. The narrator says:
Big government isn’t going to help the American recovery. We need to focus on jobs to get our economy back on track. In the Senate, George Allen supported tax cuts that spurred economic growth. He supports a Balanced Budget Amendment. And as Virginia’s governor, Allen cut spending and waste with bipartisan support. Call George Allen. Tell him to keep fighting to promote Virginia jobs.
Watch the ad:
But the Chamber has a selective memory. It was a leading proponent of President Obama’s 2009 stimulus legislation promising that the tax cuts and even many of law’s spending provisions would “provide stimulus and get Americans back to work.” Allen has called the law a “jobless stimulus.”
Though the measure passed almost entirely along party lines, the Chamber spent millions in 2010 to defeat the Democrats who backed the bill — and some of that money may have come from foreign businesses. The $789 billion law has been the largest increase in spending in the Obama presidency.
A constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget would have rendered this stimulus bill — and the preservation of the Allen-backed tax cuts that the Chamber claims spurred growth — impossible.
But even if three years is too long ago for the Chamber to remember, one would think they could remember back to last week. For just as the group blitzed Americans with messages that a smaller government was a panacea to solve the woes of a demonstrably improving economy, its own “Americans for Transportation Mobility Coalition” launched an ad last week calling for more federal government spending on transportation. With clips of President Ronald Reagan, the spot demands “new investments in transportation to keep America moving and jobs growing.” That would likely mean more “big government.”