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      

 

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalences on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Off-Shore Drilling
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises