Tracking the Chamber

Alcoa joins the gang of U.S. Chamber of Commerce directors in trouble over FCPA violations

Whose Opportunity Is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Talking About?

Whose opportunity does U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue talk about when he talks about opportunity?

The Chamber’s policies might give the largest corporations the opportunity to grow, but that is often not the same thing as growth and opportunity for the American people. After-tax corporate profits in the third quarter topped 11 percent of GDP for the first time since the records started in 1947. But everyday Americans aren’t doing so well, with real median household income declining 4.4 percent since 2009.

When the Chamber opposes increasing minimum wages to coincide with growth in productivity and the economy overall, one must ask whose growth and opportunity the Chamber is pushing for.

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hits $1 billion lobbying milestone

Ever wonder why our political system seems to be dominated by corporate interests?

An excellent report just out from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) helps shed light on that very question.

Through some impressive tracking work, CRP showed that one of the biggest mouthpieces for Big Business – the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – has become the first organization to spend a total of $1 billion on lobbying since CRP started keeping track in 1998.

In comparison, the report showed the next highest spender during that time was General Electric, at just shy of $294 million.

Although this year so far has been slow for the U.S. Chamber (in terms of reported dollars spent on lobbying), the group’s spending has increased greatly since current President Tom Donohue took over the organization in 1997.

The year after Donohue started leading the U.S. Chamber, the group spent just $17 million. By 2010, that number had risen to $157 million.

The U.S. Chamber’s Agenda More...

Another company leaves the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over the organizaiton's environmental policies

Construction firm Skanska on Tuesday became the latest in a string of members to leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over the organization’s regressive policies.

This week we had great news when Skanska Corp. made the decision to depart the U.S. Chamber. The U.S. Chamber is fighting new green construction standards that the company supports. The U.S. Chamber was so determined to block these new standards that it helped start an advocacy group – the American High-Performance Buildings Coalition – dedicated to opposing them.

Skanksa said in its press release that the U.S. Chamber was supporting the interests of a few status quo businesses – those who manufacture materials that would be banned under new rules – over those of companies that are bringing innovation to the building and construction industry.

At least one member of the U.S. Chamber-backed advocacy group  said that the new rules would put jobs at risk. More...

The surprising answer from Google on its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

It can be hard to get a big corporation to go on record about anything – much less something controversial.

That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the answer I got at Google’s annual shareholder meeting when I asked cofounder Larry Page why the company is a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an organization that has publicly opposed many of Google’s positions and interests.

After receiving applause for my question, Google’s head lawyer David Drummond – who was helping Page to answer questions – responded that the company’s membership in the U.S. Chamber is something senior leadership debates a lot. He added that while there are some things that the U.S. Chamber is good for, there is a lot of stuff it does that Google doesn’t agree with.

He concluded by saying that, “while we are members for now, it’s something that we do review.”

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Google should disclose its political spending and leave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

You can Google anything right?

Well, try going to the search engine and entering “Google’s political spending.”

You’ll get something like this:

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Unemployed workers march on U.S. Chamber headquarters after 150 mile trek

Would you walk 150 miles for…

Your family?

Your job?

Your community?

These are all reasons that a group of more than a dozen unemployed workers just made the trek from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to the doorsteps of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C.

I joined the group at a rally in front of the U.S. Chamber headquarters, an event Chamber Watch helped organize along with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Shut the Chamber and Move to Amend.

The message the group of brave travelers came with was that the policies being pushed by the U.S. Chamber are benefiting corporations while hurting the poor and the middle class.

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New U.S. Chamber attacks on corporate political spending disclosure are a good sign

How can you tell that momentum is building for change?

Well, one good sign is that the opposition starts getting nervous about your progress.

That’s why we took it as a positive sign that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently stepped up attacks on shareholders who attempt to make companies disclose political spending.

Earlier this month, I attended an almost comical presentation at the U.S. Chamber headquarters where speakers spent most of a four hour event attacking political spending disclosure resolutions as being bad for business.

I say ‘almost’ comical because, while much of the information is laughably wrong, the subject matter is far too important to joke about.

There are a number of things wrong with what I heard at this event, but I’d like to focus on two disturbing claims in particular.

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U.S. Chamber in the News - March 18

Green for All: New Strategic Partnership with Small Business Majority

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy recently released a report that confirmed a fact many small business groups already know to be true: small businesses are leading the nation’s economic recovery. Green For All is one of the groups that has seen this first-hand. We have worked for years to support small green businesses with the skills and resources needed to create new jobs while improving our environment. We know from experience that small businesses are America’s principal drivers on the road to economic recovery. It is these businesses that are, time and time again, the most capable at fostering local community resilience in times of economic hardship.

The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce Rejects Ryan's Misogynistic Budget as an Economic Assault on Women and Women Businesses Owners

Today, the U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce ( http://www.uswcc.org ) calls on congressional leaders to reject the Ryan Budget as wrong for the future of America, and pledges to take the case to protect the economic future of women to every community.

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US Chamber in the News - March 15

Law 360: Another Shot In The Dark At FCPA Reform

Timing is everything. Woody Allen said it best — 80 percent of life is just showing up. Unless you are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Talk about bad timing and sour grapes.

The chamber just does not get the message. After the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued their resource guide to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the chamber is still not satisfied. Whatever you may say about the FCPA guide, it did its job — it provided the most...

POLITICO: Club for Growth targets look to John Boehner for help

By JAKE SHERMAN and ANNA PALMER

Several House Republicans the Club for Growth has singled out for primary challenges are looking to Speaker John Boehner and GOP donors to keep them out of the fire.

A handful of lawmakers targeted by the Club’s Primary My Congressman campaign are slated to meet with Boehner next week to press him on anything the House GOP leadership can do inside and outside the Capitol to prevent the Republican-on-Republican skirmishes, several sources said.

And several of the lawmakers, including prodigious fundraisers like Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock, are pushing corporate political action committees to give the maximum amount of money to their campaigns early in the cycle in order to show strength against potential GOP challengers. They’re also trying to secure early valuable endorsements from business groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. More...

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Whose opportunity does U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue talk about when he talks about opportunity?

The Chamber’s policies might give the largest corporations the opportunity to grow, but that is often not the same thing as growth and opportunity for the American people. After-tax corporate profits in the third quarter topped 11 percent of GDP for the first time since the records started in 1947. But everyday Americans aren’t doing so well, with real median household income declining 4.4 percent since 2009.

When the Chamber opposes increasing minimum wages to coincide with growth in productivity and the economy overall, one must ask whose growth and opportunity the Chamber is pushing for.