I used to think that the Chamber of Commerce was a friendly group of local business people who came together to help foster new businesses in a community and support each other. I still think that is true on my local level but nationally the US Chamber of Commerce (COC) has become simply another tool of the far right wing R's. They have basically opposed every bill of any significance that Obama has proposed, health care, financial reform, immigration reform, climate change legislation and the list goes on. They have become a malignant force against social justice and sane government. And they have immense clout. They are the largest lobbying organization in Washington. Don't believe the title of this article, the COC has taken big chunks out of all the bills the democrats have gotten passed. The agenda has included:
Stopping Climate change legislation
Taking language that was favorable to unions out of legislation
Watering down the role of the new Consumer Protection Agency in the financial reform legislation
Opposing student loan reforms
They have strongly (as in $ spent) supported so-called "Tort Reform" which let's doctors of the hook for malpractice
They opposed a bill that would have help fund the CHIP program across the country, the most efficient program for making sure all children grow up healthy
They want to "privatize" meaning kill Social Security
According to Source Watch:
The Chamber ranks first in lobbying spending in the past decade, with General Electric ranking second at $161 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
Political Money Line highlighted in February 2005 that the Chamber and its Institute for Legal Reform reported combined spending of $53.38 million for lobbying the Executive and Legislative branches during 2004. According to the watchdog website, "This is the largest twelve-month amount reported spent by any group."
The Chamber reported spending $20,060,000 in the first six months of 2004 and $8,780,000 in the last six months of 2004. They paid forty-five lobbyists in the last six months of 2004 to lobby on thirty-two issue areas, including "Trade, Small Business, Labor, Healthcare, Defense, Appropriations, Tort Reform and other areas."
The Institute for Legal Reform reported spending $10,000,000 in the first six months of 2004 and $14,540,000 in the last six months. They had five lobbyists on the payroll for the last six months of 2004, working on the tort reform issue including "Class Action Fairness, Asbestos Injury Resolution, Legal Reform, and Lawsuit Abuse Reduction."