FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Chamber of Horrors

by DAVID MACARAY

Many people—including working men and women—still regard the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as a patriotic, pro-American organization.  And why wouldn’t they?  It’s been around long enough to have become a household name, and it’s masterful at running a public relations campaign.  As for its role in politics, I’ve even heard people describe the Chamber as “a booster or cheerleader” rather than an actual participant.

They couldn’t be more wrong.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not only a “participant,” it’s a driving force, a juggernaut, an ideological king-maker.  By aligning itself with America’s plutocracy and free-market fundamentalists, the Chamber of Commerce has become a virtual clearing house for anti-progressive politics.

Since the early days of the Reagan administration the Chamber has funneled, literally, billions of dollars into efforts to defeat candidates, neutralize movements, and kill legislation that seek to strengthen or protect the middle and lower-middle class.  Which gives a whole new meaning to the term “booster.”

Think of any progressive policy, and it’s a good bet the Chamber has opposed it: the minimum wage, enacting the EFCA (Employee Free Choice Act), bolstering the NLRB, campaign reform, healthcare reform, immigration reform, elimination of corporate tax loopholes, meaningful reform of financial institutions, more stringent safety regulations the mining and oil drilling industries, etc., etc.  The list is endless.

Hard as it may be to believe, the Chamber of Commerce has even weighed in on labor reform in faraway China.  They oppose it.  Why?  Because raising the social consciousness of Chinese workers could eventually cut into corporate profits.  There’s no limit to their scope.  You name a progressive idea, and the Chamber has campaigned against it.

The Chamber regularly opposes any attempt by the U.S. government and organized labor to level the playing field when it comes to us competing with foreign businesses that are being subsidized (legally or illegally) by governments looking to expand their own national economies.

Now why would a U.S. institution support policies that benefit foreign corporations but hurt the American worker?  The answer is simple:  Because multinational conglomerates and Wall Street bankers stand to profit from such arrangements, and because, in truth, the complaints and hardships of American workers, no matter how valid, are irrelevant.

Therefore, it was no surprise that the Chamber opposed the Obama administration’s decision to assess duties on the “dumping” of foreign paper.  On October 22, the USITC (U.S. International Trade Commission) finally recommended that the Dept. of Commerce begin anti-dumping measures against China and Indonesia by levying duties on their coated paper imports.

Taking the position that assessing duties on foreign paper represented government interference in the so-called free market (and had the potential to instigate a trade war with China), the Chamber opposed the measure.

Begun in 1912 as a modest, loose-knit association of various commercial and trade organizations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is, today, the largest lobbying entity in existence.  Fact:  Each year the Chamber spends more money than any other lobbying group in the world.  That bears repeating:  The Chamber of Commerce spends more money than any lobbying group in the world.

If the implications weren’t so dire, the Chamber’s slavish willingness to serve America’s masters and perpetuate the myth of “trickle-down” economics would be almost comical.  After all, there’s never been a wealthy customer the Chamber didn’t like, or a powerful profit-center it wasn’t willing to fight for.

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich noted that the top twenty-five hedge fund managers on Wall Street earned $3 billion or more each.  Wretchedly excessive as those figures are, their income tax bite, according to Reich, averaged out at less than 17-percent.  Yet the Chamber has spent millions of dollars trying to extend George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

People wring their hands over the emergence of the Tea Party movement, but the big dog in this fight is clearly the Chamber of Commerce—further empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission (FEC) decision, which allows moneyed interests to whale on the political process.

The Chamber of Commerce is a turbo-lobbyist dedicated to one, single-minded goal: the preservation and prosperity of the ruling class at the expense of the middle and lower-middle class.  There’s a name for that.

DAVID MACARAY, a Los Angeles playwright, is the author of “It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”. He served 9 terms as president of AWPPW Local 672. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail