Chamber of Commerce

Who Does the Chamber of Commerce Work For?

shocked george

Hero to libertarians everywhere Justin Amash has been taking the Chamber of Commerce to task on Twitter over the organization’s very real tendency to prop up crony capitalism, this time by openly supporting the Ex-Im bank (make sure you go down the rabbit hole of retweets to get the full effect):

 

It’s good to have people on the Hill pointing out that those with access in DC are the ones who really do pull the policy strings, for better or worse. And the Chamber definitely has that access, one of the largest lobbying groups, and reportedly the largest spender yearly on behalf of its members. So, it’s easy to find fault with with them. They epitomize those “special interests” that all who disapprove of big government complain about. But then, sometimes they go and do things like this:

For several years, Josten has pressed the case that the federal debt, and in particular the tab for retirement programs, is an urgent concern for business, even if executives don’t see its effects firsthand the way they do for more traditional business worries such as taxes or regulations.

GOP, crony allies plan efforts to undermine conservatives

The Wall Street Journal ran a story on Christmas which explained in detail how Republican leaders and the United States Chamber of Commerce are looking to diminish the influence of conservatives both in and outside of Congress. This gives us a glimpse at the latest battle, if you will, in the ongoing Republican civil war.

You may remember that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) lashed out at conservative groups that opposed the budget deal brokered by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It turns out, though unsurprisingly, that this public admonition of conservatives was just scratched the surface. It turns out, as the Journal explained, that Republican leaders were threatening members with loss of committee assignments if they voted against the budget deal:

Mr. Boehner’s deputies took steps behind the scenes to end internal dissent, including among GOP committee chairmen who had voted against the House leadership in prior fiscal battles. In the run-up to the budget vote, Mr. Boehner’s deputies warned chairmen who were tempted to oppose the deal that doing so could jeopardize their committee posts, said people familiar with the discussions.

The goal was to reverse a trend in which chairmen, who typically earn their post by hewing to the party line, voted against priority legislation. Six chairmen had voted against an initial version of a farm bill earlier in the year, causing the legislation to collapse on the House floor, and 11 voted against the pact this fall to reopen the federal government and extend the country’s borrowing authority into 2014.

Business groups tell EPA to leave fracking regulation to the states

Fracking

Radical environmentalists are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to heavily regulate or ban hydraulic fracturing (also known as “fracking”), the process employed to extract shale oil and natural gas from underground sources, which could undermine a thriving part of the post-recession economy.

The fracking boom has been one of the success stories in an otherwise tepid American economy, which is still trying to recover five years after a deep recession. Just last month Bloomberg Businessweek covered a recent study by IHS CERA that showed the significant economic benefits of fracking.

“In 2012, the energy boom supported 2.1 million jobs, added almost $75 billion in federal and state revenues, contributed $283 billion to the gross domestic product and lifted household income by more than $1,200,” noted Bloomberg Businessweek. “The competitive advantage for U.S. manufacturers from lower fuel prices will raise industrial production by 3.5 percent by the end of the decade, said the report from CERA, which provides business advice for energy companies.”

The Wall Street Journal noted last week that the United States is “overtaking Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas,” producing the “equivalent of about 22 million barrels a day of oil, natural gas and related fuels in July” compared to the 21.8 million barrels produced by our former Cold War foe.

Cantor Upset: Dave Brat won big by running against the crony Republican establishment

Eric Cantor loses to pro-market challnger

Big Business Republicans are losing a top ally in Congress. Last night’s surprise thumping of Eric Cantor by conservative-backed economics professor Dave Brat sent shockwaves through Washington.

POLITICO took note of Brat’s campaign messaging in late April:

The central theme of Brat’s campaign is that Cantor is beholden to business — specifically the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.

“If you’re in big business, Eric’s been very good to you, and he gets a lot of donations because of that, right?” Brat said at [a local Republican Party meeting]. “Very powerful. Very good at fundraising because he favors big business. But when you’re favoring artificially big business, someone’s paying the tab for that. Someone’s paying the price for that, and guess who that is? You.”

In another piece about this race, POLITICO called Cantor the “darling of big Wall Street donors, the K Street business types and the Republican establishment” who had a “26-to-1 cash advantage” over his challenger. Who funded Cantor’s campaign? The second POLITICO piece reports:

Cantor’s top five campaign contributors were Blackstone Group, Scoggin Capital Management, Goldman Sachs, Altria Group and Charmer Sunbelt Group, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which takes into account both political action committee donations and employee contributions.

Rand Paul takes on Big Business cronyism at Texas GOP Convention

Rand Paul at the TX GOP Convention

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul took on “Chamber of Commerce” Republicans at an address to the Republican Liberty Caucus at the Texas Republican Convention on Saturday. Sen. Paul’s comments come during a contentious primary cycle where well-funded “pro-business” Republicans are challenging more conservative “pro-market” Republicans.

Michigan Republican Congressman Justin Amash’s primary is a prime example of this battle. Business interests in the 3rd District are one-by-one throwing support behind Amash’s primary opponent, Brian Ellis.

Ellis represents everything wrong about “pro-business” Republicans, from his desire to “bring home the bacon” in the form of earmarks to well-connected business interests to his record of supporting crony capitalist policies.

Another manifestation of this battle within the GOP is reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, which is basically a taxpayer-funded slush fund for corporations under the auspices of helping send American-made good overseas. The Ex-Im Bank is already gearing up for a tough fight on Capitol Hill as conservative leaders like House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling and Senator Mike Lee take aim at reauthorization.

From the POLITICO report about Senator Paul’s remarks in Texas:

Chamber of Commerce paying to protect Republican establishment

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

For all the election wonks out there, the upcoming elections will be an unending parade of political statistical analysis. So, this will be fun, at least for the people that enjoy wading through the numbers.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce already knows this, so it is investing in some candidates that are in theoretical danger of losing primary challenges. Regardless of whether or not anyone thinks that people like Jack Kingston and Thom Tillis should be supported for reelection, the Chamber thinks it’s the right move.

While there is a certain degree of populist energy behind more conservative or libertarian candidates this year, the bottom line remains that they are largely in untested waters. Yes, there have been good showings for some “third-party” candidates, but probable winners are few and far between.

Imagine this like placing money on a horse in the Kentucky Derby. Sure, it’s fun to put a few dollars down on the long-shot, but when you’re talking about a serious bet, the best bet will be the favorite.

“Establishment party” is starting to be considered like a profane phrase in many conservative circles. The problem remains the same as it has been for the past six years — the people in those circles rarely travel outside of their pleasant little echo chamber.

They regularly hear from fellow conservatives about how great their candidates are, and get hammered with polling information that is weighted in favor of the people they support. In other words, they’re complaining about party leadership being tone deaf to them, as they sit in their little circles with their friends that agree with them.

Today in Liberty: Ukraine’s fight for freedom, House GOP walks back plans for Obamacare alternative

“The end of the law is, not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.” — John Locke

— “We want to be free from a dictatorship”: Learn Liberty released a new, 30-second video early yesterday evening featuring a young protester the Ukraine who explains why she fought her country’s regime. “I want you to know why thousands of people all over my country are on the streets,” she says. “We want to be free from a dictatorship. We want to be free from the politicians who work only for themselves.” Watch it. Because we seriously teared up.

Obama considers cybersecurity executive order

Internet

On Thursday, the United States Senate shot down so-called “cybersecurity” legislation in a mostly party line vote. Many Senate Democrats tried to hype up the bill as something that could prevent a worst-case scenario, but Republicans were concerned that it would put too much on businesses.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) noted that the bill was a trojan horse, explaining that “In its current form, the Cybersecurity Act does not sufficiently safeguard Internet users’ privacy and civil liberties, nor would it create the correct incentives to adequately protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyber threats.” Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, also explained that all the cybersecurity legislation would have done is create a headache for business and, as Wyden noted, put privacy at risk through data sharing with the federal government:

Victory for Taxpayers in Georgia

No New TaxesWhile Ted Cruz may have won national headlines on Tuesday after beating David Dewhurst, voters in Metro Atlanta, as well as eight other regions, shot down a 1-cent tax hike — what would have been the largest in state history — for a poorly conceived transportation plan.

The tax hike was put to voters in 12 different regions around the state, each of which had its own project list formed by elected officials in a “roundtable.” Supporters of the tax hike, which included the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and several elected officials, including Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, managed to raise a substantial amount of money — some $8+ million — to push the plan.

Opponents waged a largely grassroots and underfunded effort to put the brakes on the tax hike. And, as noted above, the tax hike failed in nine of the 12 regions. On Tuesday evening and into yesterday, Tea Party groups, which largely led the opposition, were claiming victory for the tax hike’s defeat:

The proposal to adopt a one-cent state sales tax increase via a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) was voted down in a closely watched election by an almost 2-to-1 margin, losing 63 to 37 percent.

Atlanta Tea Party coordinator Debbie Dooley said in a statement provided to The Hill that the vote was a victory for opponents of large government.


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