They seem willing to promote almost anything that will be bad for public health. They are in favor of pollution. They love climate change. They want more lung cancer... and just about any other type of cancer one can imagine.
The 'Chamber' is more in favor of corporate dominance than are corporations themselves. They represent pure business and pure entrepreneurship at the expense of all else. According to them, nothing, absolutely nothing should impede the progress of the corporate agenda... and the government and the people be damned.
As a citizen looks around with the intent to vote on some subject or another, it is good to notice where the 'Chamber' has taken a position. Wherever that position happens to land, the citizen should automatically find some other position and vote against anything the 'Chamber' champions.
Who Does the Biggest Lobbying Force in the US Represent?
Not Its Members'
Member companies become de facto promoters of tobacco and adversaries of climate action'
from Common Dreams by Andrea Germanos
Who does the biggest lobbying force in the United States represent? Not its members.
That's according to a new investigation (pdf) by a group of U.S. senators, which found that on the issues of tobacco use and climate change, there's a profound disparity between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's positions and those of the companies it supposedly speaks for.
The investigation, which comes on the heels of leaked polling results showing how the group attempts to suppress the "empathy" of its members on pro-worker positions, is based on research and correspondence with 108 private sector members of the Chamber's Board of Directors.
Led by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), it was triggered by a series of 2015 New York Times articles exposing how the group was working to thwart global anti-smoking efforts and fight President Barack Obama's plan to limit power plant emissions of greenhouse gases.
The findings, the report states, "[call] into question the Chamber's allegedly transparent decision-making process, and [suggest] that the Chamber does not accurately represent the positions of its member companies." As noted in the report:
In fact, "We found a corporate America far more concerned about public health and the environment than the Chamber's efforts would suggest. We identified dozens of companies investing heavily to get their employees to stop smoking because they realize a healthy workforce is a productive one. We identified companies from all corners of the economy working to reduce their carbon footprints and affirmatively supporting the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan and its international efforts at the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris," the senators write in their cover letter to Chamber Board members accompanying the report.
Yet these members "undermine their own efforts by affiliating with an organization that actively and aggressively undermines efforts to reduce tobacco use and tries to prevent action to address climate change," the letter continues. "By lending tacit support to an organization that has spearheaded a decades-long effort against policies to address both problems, member companies become de facto promoters of tobacco and adversaries of climate action."
The letter goes on to urge the members to reflect upon "the effects in Congress of your continued affiliation with the Chamber on these issues."
Expounding on the influence the Chamber wields, Dan Dudis, director of Public Citizen's U.S. Chamber Watch Program, writes in an op-ed at The Hill this week:
U.S. Chamber Works Behind the Scenes to Gut Whistleblower Protections
from Common Dreams by Jessica Mason
Efforts to gut the federal False Claims Act backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce got a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday. The federal push builds on previous back-door Chamber efforts through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to discourage states from pursuing fraud claims.
The False Claims Act (FCA) allows the government to recover from businesses that defraud government programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and protects whistleblowers who report suspected fraud on government contracts. According to the Department of Justice, cases brought under the FCA resulted in the recovery of $42 billion from 1987-2013, making it an important legal tool for deterring fraud and protecting public funds.
Ensuring that contractors don't defraud the government is clearly in the public interest. Yet for a number of years, the Chamber has been targeting the FCA through its lobbying efforts and its Institute for Legal Reform, which advocates policy changes that would reduce financial penalties on many companies and make it harder for whistleblowers to report alleged misconduct.
Three of the four scheduled speakers at Thursday's hearing on "Oversight of the False Claims Act," held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, called for the FCA to be overhauled; two have clear ties to the U.S. Chamber.
Larry D. Thompson of the University of Georgia School of Law advocated for "greater creativity" in ethics oversight--offering the U.S. Chamber's proposal as an exemplar.
Thompson served as Deputy Attorney General under President George W. Bush and was previously a member of the U.S. Chamber's Board of Directors.
Jonathan Diesenhaus, a lawyer with Hogan Lovells US LLP, claimed that the qui tam statute gives too much power to whistleblowers "with less than honorable intentions." Diesenhaus wrote a report on state qui tam statutes and FCAs for the Chamber's ILR, and presented on potential FCA "reforms" at an Institute for Legal Reform summit in 2013.
U.S. Chamber Blocks State Anti-Fraud Efforts through ALEC -- This won't be the first time the U.S. Chamber has gotten seemingly independent sources to mouth its talking points.
The Chamber has also worked through ALEC to pressure state lawmakers against strengthening state-level false claims laws, as shown in documents uncovered by Common Cause and reported on by The New York Times.
In 2012, a U.S. Chamber lawyer was the co-chair of ALEC's Civil Justice Task Force, along with Ohio state legislator Bill Seitz. After consulting with the Chamber's representative about a proposed False Claims Act to protect whistleblowers in Ohio, Seitz told The New York Times, "he learned that the bill, as originally written, would have been 'a trial lawyer’s bonanza.'" Seitz then began drafting an ALEC-friendly model and sent a warning to a fellow state legislator about the push to increase false claims litigation.
"While this is understandable, as states are broke, the considered advice from our friends at ALEC was that such legislation is not well taken and should not be approved," Seitz wrote.
Seitz's efforts on the Chamber's behalf did not go unnoticed. He received the Institute for Legal Reform's "State Legislative Achievement Award" the following year.
Dudis also writes that it has a "central role [...] in corrupting our political system through more than $1 billion in lobbying and more than $100 million in election spending."
And that speaks to the campaign spending issues that followed the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling. As Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst in the Center for Science and Democracy at Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote last year:
If its own board members aren't standing with the Chamber on climate change, who is? Who is supporting the Chamber's anti-science position on climate and other issues? And who is funding its work to undercut efforts to promote clean energy and reduce our emissions? We need greater transparency in our political system to hold accountable those blocking efforts to address climate change.