More on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

So, policies that benefit big business do not always benefit the majority of the population; I think it’s often the opposite case. To me, this conclusion is self-evident, given my reading material and ideological bent, but other people may not think so. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which I painted as largely responsive to the interests of big business and uninterested in the welfare of the majority of the country, is a good example of this. The Chamber’s membership is hard to define, although the group claims to represent “3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions.” Interesting to note, though, that the U.S. CoC does not have the full support of provincial CoCs, which are ostensibly included (along with all their members) in the 3 million figure.

A 2010 report from ThinkProgress details how the U.S. CoC takes in money not just from national companies, but from international ones as well. Although organizations are supposed to define their contributions to the CoC, the picture is often murky. As Lee Fang writes:

Here’s how it works. Regular dues from American firms to the Chamber can range from $500 to $300,000 or more, depending on their size and industry, and can be used for any purpose deemed necessary by the Chamber leadership. For example, the health insurance giant Aetna has reported that it paid $100,000 in annual dues to the Chamber in the past. But for specific advocacy or advertising campaigns, corporations can hide behind the label of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and give additional money. Last year, alongside their regular dues, health insurance companies like Aetna secretly funneled up to $20 million to the Chamber for attack ads aimed at killing health reform (publicly, health insurance executives claimed they supported reform). Last week, Politico reported that News Corporation, the parent company of Fox News, gave an extra $1 million to the Chamber for its election season attack campaign.

In the linked item, the CoC did not dispute the report, only noting that there’s a “system in place” to ensure that foreign funds are not used for electoral purposes. This excuse is laughable, because money is fungible.

The point of all of this is that, as I noted in a previous post, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce exists to advance the interests of its members, even when some or most of the other members disagree. And those interests are rarely aligned with the majority of the U.S. public.

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