Anniver-sorries and Apologies: The Chamber's Joe Barton Moment

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Apology Heard 'Round the World: Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton's apology to BP in the wake of the worst environmental disaster in history. Yet Barton wasn't the only high-profile official feeling sorry for BP last year.  In fact, when U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue infamously told the Christian Science Monitor that the American taxpayer should pitch in on the oil spill clean-up, Congressional leaders stood up and followed suit. 

Donohue told the Monitor:

“I would like to do the surgery after we get the diagnosis, you know. Everybody is going to contribute to this cleanup. We are all going to have to do it…. We are going to have to get the money from the government and from the companies, and we will figure out a way to do that.”

This statement became John Boehner’s line on BP as well-- one for which the Speaker suffered a significant backlash. Donohue didn't exactly fare better-- Gulf Coast chambers of commerce immediately distanced themselves from his comments.  Don Moliterno, president of the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce chastised, “To say that we as taxpayers should spend more is just wrong.” Mother Jones went on to highlight “5 Ways the Chamber Shills for BP,” clear evidence that Donohue and the Chamber were doing more than just apologizing to BP for their corporate hardship, but also lobbying to ease restrictions and rules that would have prevented future disasters and provided justice to the victims of the spill. 

At that same Christian Science Monitor breakfast, about a month before Barton’s apology to BP, Tom Donohue had a similar moment, when he explained that he was sick and tired of how the media and the American public were just beating up on CEOs, whether they be from big banks, the health insurance industry, or Big Oil:

"I am personally troubled about the way we have been treating not only business leaders but – let's go there – bankers, people that run health-care companies, people that run oil companies. They are being hauled up to the Congress ... and beat up like unruly children for the TV cameras.”

On today’s “Anniver-sorry” of Joe Barton’s apology, let us remind the American public that the U.S. Chamber is the ultimate apologist for corporate America or as Donohue terms it, “the reinsurance industry.”  When a corporation is “being overrun” as he explained, the Chamber “builds coalitions and [goes] out and helps them.”  That’s right – the Chamber will keep the big corporations from being accountable to their employees, customers, and the American people – and they’re not sorry about that.

Just In

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.