02 December 2010

U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Has Sordid History

If there is a single organization that supports increasing the vast income and wealth gap between the richest Americans and the rest of us, it is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCOC). The name of this organization would seem to make one think that they would be in support of policies that would favor all American businesses. But that is not true. They favor the huge corporations and the richest Americans over all others -- including America's small business men and women.

Reposted from Jobsanger

They have consistently opposed policies that would help ordinary Americans, both small businesses and workers, in favor of helping only the richest Americans. And they get a lot of their money from foreign corporations, which is no surprise since they have actively supported the outsourcing of American jobs for many years now. But that is just the beginning. The USCOC has a long and rather sordid history of supporting policies and candidates that would hurt most Americans. Here is a partial list of their activities that was composed by the blog Think Progress:

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has long opposed women’s rights. For example, the Chamber lobbied against Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) bill to allow victims of rape to file a lawsuit against their defense contractor employers. The Chamber also lobbied against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and numerous other bills to address systematic gender inequality.

– The U.S Chamber of Commerce has been the driving force against consumer, worker, and public safety laws for nearly a century. This year, itlobbied against regulating BPA, a chemical found to cause birth defects and genital mutations. The Chamber has a history of fighting work place safety regulations, the Clean Air Act, the Mine Safety Act, and other fundamental programs used to strengthen American society.

— The U.S. Chamber of Commerce helped President Bush in his attempt to privatize Social Security and his drive to deregulate Wall Street. Even during President Roosevelt’s era, the Chamber lobbied against the New Deal agenda, especially the passage of Social Security. After its members helped cause the Great Depression, the Chamber still fought against regulating Wall Street as well as measures such as unemployment insurance. Chamber officials charged that Roosevelt was attempting to “Sovietize America.”

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is responsible for many of the policies that have made America the most unequal in terms of income/wealth distribution in the industrialized world. On tax policy, the Chamber has pushed efforts to repeal the estate tax while helping to pass the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Corporate tax loopholes promoted by the Chamber ensure that corporations like ExxonMobil pay zero corporate income taxes while regular American workers foot much of the Treasury’s bill. The Chamber also opposed the creation of a minimum wage, and has lobbied against nearlyevery increase in the federal minimum wage.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t even necessarily represent American businesses. As first reported by ThinkProgress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently began a fundraising program soliciting foreign corporations to give to the Chamber’s account that in turn was used to run attack ads during the midterm elections. The Chamber admitted that it fundraises from foreign donors, but has refused to reveal how it finances its political campaign expenditures. ThinkProgress noted that the Chamber has aided its foreign members by lobbying this year to kill a bill to close tax loopholes for businesses that ship jobs overseas, and has even sponsoredseminars to teach businesses how to ship their jobs to places like China.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has consistently sided with polluters and the fossil fuel industry. Not only has the Chamber challenged the science of climate change, but after BP’s oil spill, Chamber CEO Tom Donohue said American taxpayers should pay for the clean up.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce practices the politics of division and hate when it serves their corporate interests. Throughout 2010, the Chamber worked closely with hate television star Glenn Beck, who calls President Obama a “racist” who has a “deep-seated hatred for white people.” Top Chamber lobbyists met secretly with Beck at a meeting in June to plan the midterm elections, and Beck has sponsored on-air fundraisers for the Chamber. Similarly, the Chamber joined Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) to eagerly brand political opponents — like labor organizers and liberal intellectuals — as communists during McCarthy’s red scare.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has worked to give corporations unfettered control of government. For instance, the Chamber successfully filed an amicus brief in the Citizens United case to roll back nearly a century of campaign finance laws. Because of the Chamber’s efforts, corporations can spend unlimited amounts in American elections. Now the Chamber is attempting to repeal legislation aimed at discouraging American businesses from bribing foreign governments.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce fought every attempt at health reform, from Truman to Johnson to Nixon to Clinton to Obama’s efforts to help the American people gain access to quality health care. The Chamber eventried to stop the passage of Medicare under President Johnson.

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce often places the profits of its member companies over American foreign policy objectives. Last year, the Chamberlobbied against President Obama’s efforts to place economic sanctions on Iran. In 1941, the Chamber was one of the most outspoken opponents of intervening in World War II (Chamber officials feared that war would give Roosevelt more power and wartime spending would lead to higher deficits, then higher taxes).

– The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a sordid history with civil rights. It opposed key planks of the Civil Rights Act, and lobbied against the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Recently, the Chamber paid for campaign advertising to help Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-KY), who told ThinkProgress he too opposed the ADA.
Posted by Ted McLaughlin

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