Tag Archives: chamber of commerce politics

Another Enemy of Working People: Chambers of Commerce

A lot of people look at chambers of commerce as the good guys.

They’re not.

Yes, they promote local businesses, they help small businesses operate more effectively and network with other small businesses, and they provide some services to small businesses that might otherwise be out of their reach.

But they’re not good guys.

At the local level, most chamber of commerce members are small businesses.  Small businesses don’t much like working people.  They don’t like them because from the perspective of small business owners, every dime they have to pay their employees in salaries and benefits is one less dime in their own pockets.

So many of them begrudge their workers these dimes.

EVERY dime.

At the national level, the companies that call the shots are the biggest companies – you know, the ones that are always looking for ways to export the jobs of working people in the name of “shareholder value,” as if that’s a valid reason for tossing employees out onto the street.  They’re obviously no friend of working people, either.

The chamber is the largest lobbying organization in the country and it lobbies on behalf of the businesses that belong to it, not for the people who work for those businesses.

It lobbies against things like the minimum wage.  And for laws that make it harder for workers to unionize and easier for big companies to make their biggest exports American jobs rather than the products they sell.

It makes most of its political contributions to people who believe climate change is a hoax.  It wants to weaken regulations that prevent manufacturers from polluting the air and water.

It wants to weaken federal consumer protections that emerged from the abuses by the financial and banking industries that led to the recent recession.  It wants to eliminate regulations that require the people who help you with your retirement accounts to have as their first priority your financial interests rather than their own – and laws that hold them legally accountable if they don’t.

And this week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out in support of the bill in the U.S. Senate that would change a lot of what is known as Obamacare.

Change it by throwing 22 million people who currently have health insurance off the insured rolls over the next ten years.

Change it by letting insurance companies sell policies that won’t cover common medical problems.

And sell policies with much higher deductibles.

Change it by letting insurers charge much, much higher premiums to people who are older, regardless of how healthy they are.

Change it in a way that threatens the Medicaid benefits of children and pregnant women.

And that could throw middle-class seniors out of nursing homes.

And take Medicaid benefits away from people who make so little money that they couldn’t scrape together the money to pay for health insurance if their lives depended on it.

Chambers of commerce aren’t alone in their hostility to working people, either.  When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced the other day that it supported the health care bill in the Senate, it did so in a public letter that was signed by a bunch of other groups as well.

  • Air Conditioning Contractors of America
  • America’s Business Benefit Association
  • American Staffing Association
  • American Supply Association
  • Associated Builders and Contractors
  • Associated General Contractors
  • Auto Care Association
  • Communicating for America, Inc.
  • The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers
  • Employers Council on Flexible Compensation (ECFC)
  • The ERISA Industry Committee
  • Food Marketing Institute
  • HR Policy Association
  • Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America
  • International Foodservice Distributors Association
  • International Franchise Association
  • National Association for the Self-Employed
  • National Association of Home Builders
  • National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
  • National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors
  • National Club Association
  • National Restaurant Association
  • National Retail Federation
  • Self-Insurance Institute of America, Inc.
  • Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • Society of Professional Benefit Administrators

When people on the left offer such criticisms, people on the right often accuse them of seeking to incite class warfare, of attempting to pit working people against the wealthy.

To which The Curmudgeon replies “Damn right.  It’s about time – and long overdue.”