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Archived Blogs March 2011

Chamber Member GE Gets $4.1 Billion Taxpayer-Subsidized Tax Refund — And Donohue Defends It

On Wednesday, U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue appeared on Fox Business News and defended a recent revelation by the New York Times that General Electric is using accounting gimmickry to avoid paying taxes.

GE took a beating in the press this week when it was revealed that, unlike the vast majority of working Americans, GE avoided paying any taxes last year. But the story gets worse. Through a series of tax incentives, breaks and write-offs, GE recorded a net gain on their 2009 tax liability. This is to say that not only did GE avoid paying taxes, taxpayers paid GE. In fact, during the past five years GE has “received a net tax benefit from the I.R.S. of $4.1 billion.” Meanwhile, since 2002, GE has eliminated 1/5 of its American work force. Fortunately for GE, as a member of the U.S. Chamber, Donohue lobbied on their behalf.

True to form, Donohue defended GE’s brazen exploitation of the U.S. tax code, citing the tax write offs that GE’s finance business – which received a federal bailout – and subsidies for GE’s clean technology business. If that wasn’t persuasive enough, Donohue claimed that GE was entitled to the $4.1 billion taxpayer subsidized tax return simply because “they’ve paid lots of taxes over lots of time.” Watch:

VARNEY: General Electric paid no tax in the latest statement year; Jeffrey Immelt, clearly in bed with the administration. Crony capitalism, what do you say, sir?

DONOHUE: I say that’s bunk. General Electric during the course of the last two years had two things that drove down their taxes. One, they had extraordinary massive loses in their financial arm, which is a very, very big part of the company and they wrote those losses off. And two, they’ve made a lot of investment – serious investments – in green energy and a lot of other activities that the Congress has [en]acted in the last number of years. To encourage and endorse by providing tax incentives. They did what the law allowed them to do. By the way, they’ve paid lots of taxes over lots of time and they’ll pay a hell of a lot of taxes next year. 

Interestingly, as the Times noted, Donohue’s position seems to conflict with the stated policy of Ronald Reagan – whom Donohue claims to “admire“:

In the mid-1980s, President Ronald Reagan overhauled the tax system after learning that G.E. — a company for which he had once worked as a commercial pitchman — was among dozens of corporations that had used accounting gamesmanship to avoid paying any taxes.


“I didn’t realize things had gotten that far out of line,” Mr. Reagan told the Treasury secretary, Donald T. Regan, according to Mr. Regan’s 1988 memoir. The president supported a change that closed loopholes and required G.E. to pay a far higher effective rate, up to 32.5 percent.

While the Times acknowledged that GE has enlisted a multimillion dollar lobbying operation to defend their billion dollar tax return, GE can always rely on their partner, the U.S. Chamber, to do their bidding.

Crooks and Liars: “U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Caterpillar Collude to Extort Illinois”

**Update: Since this article was published, Caterpillar has announced it is “not planning to leave Illinois.”

Yesterday, Crooks & Liars had an excellent post explaining how the U.S. Chamber is apparently colluding with Caterpillar Inc. to hold the state of Illinois hostage. Caterpillar has received national attention for grandstanding over a potential state corporate sales tax increase. Caterpillar, a major state employer, is threatening to relocate away from Illinois, if the tax increase is enacted.

As C&L explains:

So how does the US Chamber factor in? Well, the Group President of Caterpillar, Inc. is Gerald L. Shaheen, past chair of the US Chamber of Commerce and a current director of the National Chamber Foundation. The National Chamber Foundation recently issued a “study” entitled “Enterprising States“, citing those states with the perfect environment for job creation. Unsurprisingly, the states mentioned were states with little to no state taxes, or states which recently cut tax rates — Texas, North Dakota, Indiana, and Nebraska among them.

So in summation, the Chamber and Caterpillar: working hand-in-hand to sway politics, keep large corporations from paying taxes, and in the words of C&L, to “strive to end the middle class entirely.” Check out the entire article here.

Our Cheat Sheet for Professor Warren’s Chamber Showdown

Today, Harvard Professor, current presidential advisor, and architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Elizabeth Warren stepped into “the enemy’s home base” and gave a speech to the U.S. Chamber on financial reform.  One of her strongest critics, J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, was also scheduled to speak at the conference. Accordingly, much of the coverage leading up to the event portrayed it as a debate or a battle between the two financial heavyweights. The New York Post, owned by million dollar Chamber donor News Corp, framed the upcoming event as “Hostile Chamber: Warren facing watchdog agency’s toughest critics.”

As Warren stepped into the ring, she was aware that the U.S. Chamber spent millions, from the banking industry, to defeat the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) during the financial reform debate, and continues to pour massive resources into weakening the Dodd-Frank legislation.  She understood that the Chamber championed many of the policies that caused the financial crisis.   And Warren must have known that last summer, the Chamber actually prepared a handout “suggesting she believes consumers are incapable of making their own financial decisions” in an effort to torpedo her possible nomination to lead the CFPB. Professor, we know you did your homework on how the good ole’ Chamber is basically trying to dismantle your work to avoid future recessions and protect the middle class– but just in case everyone else needs a cheat sheet, we’ve taken the liberty of preparing one.

The History Lesson

The U.S. Chamber Supported Policies that Led to the Financial Crisis. According to the New York Times, derivatives “were a major cause of the financial crisis and have gone largely unregulated for decades.”   Efforts by the big banks to block proposed regulations proposed by the Obama administration and Congress appeared doomed until the US Chamber weighed in.  As Reuters reported, “the banking industry will get an assist from the influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which plans to lobby Congress hard to ensure companies are able to use customized derivatives.”  The Chamber and other trade groups subsequently formed the Coalition of End Users to soften proposed derivatives regulation, “much to the relief of several big Wall Street banks that had been waging a lonely and uphill lobbying effort.” [National Journal, 9/26/09; Reuters, 7/14/09; New York Times, 5/14/09]

The U.S. Chamber “Coordinat[ed] “Wall Street’s Stealth Lobbying Campaign to Kill (Financial) Reform.” During the financial reform debate, ThinkProgress revealed that “Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Master Card, and other industry players are working through ‘Democracy Data & Communications’ (DDC) — a firm that specializes in helping corporations activate their employees and customers into grassroots advocates — to join the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s effort to kill reform. The domain list of the DDC server, obtained by ThinkProgress, contains various Wall Street websites, including one seemingly named after JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, which all transfer visitors to the Chamber’s anti-reform campaign:;;;… The banks are conducting a two-faced campaign to kill reform. In public, the banks pledge to fully support reform. However, behind closed doors, the banks — many of which were bailed out with TARP money and have not paid back taxpayers — are funding the Chamber’s attack ads and are connecting their network to the Chamber’s grassroots lobbying campaign.” [ThinkProgress, 4/24/10]

The U.S. Chamber Fought to Kill CFPB with “Wildly Misleading” Ads. In September 2009, the Boston Globe reported on a U.S. Chamber print ad criticizing the Consumer Financial Protection Agency that “the White House [called] wildly misleading.” According to the article, then Director of the White House National Economic Council Larry Summers said the ad was “in many ways similar to the ‘death panel’ charges,’” that were being made in the healthcare reform debate. [Boston Globe, 9/19/09]

The U.S. Chamber Tried to Thwart Warren, Claiming She Didn’t Understand Consumers and Demanding a Halt to Rulemaking While She Headed CFPB. The U.S. Chamber has actively tried to thwart Elizabeth Warren’s ability to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  In August 2010, the LA Times reported that the Chamber had prepared a handout “suggesting she believes consumers are incapable of making their own financial decisions” in an effort to “torpedo her possible nomination” to lead the CFPB.  In March 2011, the Chamber and several industry groups released “a letter sent by a dozen industry groups to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and leaders on Capitol Hill with suggestions for changes to the CFBP, including a recommendation that no rules be made under current leader Elizabeth Warren.” [LA Times, 8/1/10; U.S. PIRG blog, 3/1/11]

…And It’s Not Over Yet…

The U.S. Chamber Continues to Fight Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Legislation On Behalf of Big Banks With Lobbyists and Interactive Websites. Despite losing its expensive battle to kill financial reform legislation, the U.S. Chamber is still fighting the regulations borne out of the Dodd-Frank bill.  The Chamber continues to solicit funding from “New York financial powers” for an “anti-regulatory drive,” and launched an interactive website illustrating the rules and regulations required by financial reform legislation.  And in the fourth quarter of 2010, after the Passage of Dodd-Frank, the U.S. Chamber was still found to be “no. 1 top spender on lobbying…ending the year with a lobbying surge.”

The U.S. Chamber’s Recent “Report” on Derivatives Shunned by the Firm that Did the Study. In February 2011, the U.S. Chamber released a report on derivatives that the Chamber commissioned under the umbrella group the Coalition for Derivatives End Users. As reported by the New York Times, with the release of the report, economic advisors who had been listed on Key Bridge’s website immediately distanced themselves from the firm and shunned the report. Advisors on the firm’s website “mysteriously disappeared,” shrinking “to four from seven.”  Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate in Economic Science and advisor to the firm said, “This is the first I have heard about it…It’s not a very good report…The argument they make is particularly foolish.”” [U.S. Chamber Watch blog, 2/16/11]

The Chamber and Wal-Mart: A Corporate Hijacking of the Supreme Court

Today, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case in which millions of women have been trying to sue Wal-Mart for sex discrimination, ranging from “unequal pay, sexist remarks and insurmountable obstacles to promotion.”  Unsurprisingly, throughout the almost 10 year legal process of the case, the U.S. Chamber has been one of Wal-Mart’s most steadfast supporters, having filed 7 amicus briefs favoring the corporation in the Wal-Mart v. Dukes case.  Although the Chamber, and much of the mainstream media, will continue focusing on the fact that the Supreme Court’s particular decision involves a technical procedural issue concerning whether a case can go forward as a class action and not about “discrimination” per se, we already know just where the Chamber stands on “unequal pay” and “sexist remarks” – in favor of and willfully pedaling both.

Putting aside the implications of discrimination and advantage-taking that could be allowed by a corporation’s wrongdoing that is “too-big-to-sue”, the Alliance for Justice made a compelling observation that a win for Wal-Mart would certainly bolster a symbolic shift of the Roberts’ Supreme Court in favor of corporate interests, with the U.S. Chamber’s influence over the Court defining that shift:

“Since 1953, corporate interests have won just 42 percent of the time in the Supreme Court, but that percentage has jumped to 61 percent in the Roberts Court, with three of the seven most pro-corporate terms occurring during Chief Justice Roberts’ first five years.  Just last term, the Roberts Court ruled in favor of the side that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported in 13 of 16 cases.  The U.S. Chamber, and a wide array of other large corporate interests, have lined up on Wal-Mart’s side in this case.”

That’s right – a Supreme Court victory by the largest corporation in the world – would reaffirm “the perception…that the court is overly protective of the corporate world,” and solidify the concept that except for the solicitor general, “…no single entity has more influence on what cases the Supreme Court decides and how it decides them than the National Chamber Litigation Center,” as Chamber litigator Carter G. Phillips has said.

In August of 2007, NCLC’s Executive Vice President Robin Conrad said in a statement, “This has been our best Supreme Court term in 30 years…We submitted filings in more cases than ever this term, and we won more cases than ever.” It seems as if the Chamber is now claiming the Supreme Court for itself and presumably the major corporations that pay it to do so.  After winning the Citizens United case last year, a win for Wal-Mart means that the Chamber will have given large corporations almost unbreakable power over the political, electoral process and the ability to remain unaccountable to their employees for the sake of profit.

The Chamber is right – this is about more than discrimination – it’s about the corporate hijacking of our democracy and an independent federal judiciary.

The Other Sweet Sixteen

This week, NPR revealed the latest in big Chamber donations, $500,000 from the Chevron oil company last year.  Chevron is an old pal of the Chamber, donating $250,000 in both 2008 and 2009.  It’s worth remembering that, while $500K is a big chunk of change, that amount wouldn’t even get Chevron into the Chamber’s so-called “Sweet 16”, the sixteen corporations that gave $1 million or more to the Chamber in 2009.[1]

But what DOES that money buy Chevron?

  • Amicus briefs and public statements by the Chamber, defending Chevron against multi-million dollar legal decisions holding the company liable for environmental and health devastation to communities.
  • Cover from Chamber CEO Tom Donohue who last year said the BP oil spill cleanup should be paid for by American taxpayers.
  • Climate-denying lobbyists who have questioned the science of climate change and are leading the fight to strip the EPA’s power.
  • A misleading report on jobs lost from stalled energy projects that reads more like Big Oil’s Christmas wish list.

As you kick back and watch some basketball this weekend, consider the other sweet sixteen – the Chamber’s donors – who are fueling the nation’s most powerful lobbyist and buying control of our democracy.  That’s more than just a little March madness.

[1] 2009 is the most recent year in which tax disclosure information is available for the Chamber.

AHIP’s $86 Million Payoff: Chamber Still Spouting Misleading Anti-Healthcare Reform Talk

Yesterday – right before the first anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s passage – the U.S. Chamber held another conference call on the “challenges” facing businesses as a result of the new law.  Translation: the Chamber most likely used the call to bash healthcare reform and mislead the American people about its affects on small businesses.

Don’t be fooled by the Chamber’s rhetoric – remember that its entire anti-healthcare reform initiative, in the guise of protecting small businesses, was actually funded by an $86 million check from America’s Health Insurance Plans, made up of the nation’s largest insurers: Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint.

As Chamber “officials” and “experts” do their song and dance about protecting small business owners’ profits by criticizing healthcare reform, what they probably won’t share is how the Chambers’ call really protected the profits of AHIP companies’ CEOs, who made nearly $1 billion between 2000 and 2009.  Also, don’t expect to hear about Small Business Majority data on the over four million American small businesses that are now eligible for tax breaks due to the new law.  Or the Small Business Majority’s January 2011 survey of 619 small business owners which found that “One-third (33%) of employers who don’t offer health insurance said they would be more likely to do so because of the small business tax credits.”

We hope America’s small business owners, who wasted took time to be on the Chamber’s call, will read between the lines.  Yesterday’s conference call was not brought to you by a small business-friendly Chamber but by the big business healthcare insurance industry. Time to hang up on the Chamber’s misleading rhetoric.

Honeywell Gets the Chamber Treatment

What is one reason to have your company represented on the board of the Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR)? You’ll have a champion in the U.S. Chamber, as major consumer and engineering products manufacturer Honeywell learned once again. Yesterday, after a jury found Chamber ILR board member Honeywell and three other companies guilty of “conspiring to conceal information about the health risks of asbestos from their employees, customers and others,” the Chamber predictably bashed the jury’s findings.  In a statement, Chamber ILR President, Lisa Rickard, called the ruling a “runaway verdict” and “the result of the trial court’s utter failure to follow the rule of law and controlling precedent.”  Continuing to whine, Rickard even took a shot at the state of Illinois’ “hostile legal environment.”

Tom Donohue has said that the Chamber is the “reinsurance industry” for corporations and industries when “they can’t move forward, they can’t move back, or maybe they’re being overrun.” Well, it looks like the Chamber has come to Honeywell’s rescue despite the grave safety violations for which the company was found guilty.

U.S. Chamber: keeping corporations safe from accountability to their workers.

Chamber Hot Air on the Hill

Earlier today, the U.S. Chambers’ vice president of international affairs John Murphy, testified at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee meeting entitled, “Made in America: Increasing Jobs through Exports and Trade.” According to the committee’s website, the hearing addressed “ways to bolster America’s manufacturing sector and foster job growth,” and several pending trade agreements.

We find it very paradoxical that the U.S. Chamber – criticized time and again for its staunch pro-outsourcing agenda – would be testifying at a hearing with “Made in America” in its title. In fact, in January 2010, the Chamber specifically opposed the “Buy American” provisions of the 2010 jobs bill that would have required certain stimulus funds go to buying American made products.  We find it even more puzzling that the Chamber would be included in a discussion on how to “foster job growth” when their only jobs plans so far seems to be writing questionable reports with misleading data on the numbers of jobs that aren’t being created.

During the 2010 election cycle, the U.S. Chamber spent over $1.1 million to elect 6 members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (3 Republicans, 3 Democrats).  It looks like the Chamber is going to the Hill now, in person, to ensure a return on its investments.  Let’s hope that these Chamber paid-for reps won’t buy the Chamber’s hot air.

Donohue’s “Over-Bloated” Hypocrisy on Compensation

Last week, while in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue told reporters that “public workers compensation is ‘over bloated.’”  That’s right, Tom Donohue – whose $3 million annual salary and unapologetic usage of a private jet and car has been questioned in an IRS complaint – just said that the salary of firefighters, teachers, healthcare workers and other public employees is too high.

Donohue is, as of 2009, the sixth-highest-paid lobbyist in the country. Under his reign, the Chamber supported unlimited CEO pay, even when companies were failing at the height of the financial crises.  Recently, Donohue even went so far as to express sympathy for CEOs, like former AIG head Hank Greenberg when he was under investigation for an accounting scandal at the company, and as middle class Americans were struggling to keep their houses and jobs.  Donohue also said he was “troubled” by the treatment of “bankers, people that run health-care companies, people that run oil companies” at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast following the BP environmental disaster. And as U.S. Chamber Watch reported, one of the Chamber’s top 2010 priorities was extending the Bush tax cuts to protect its richest corporate CEOs’ wallets. Donohue himself stands to personally gain $200,000 from the tax cuts extension, and many Chamber member CEOs will gain at least $700,000 to $1.7 million from the new law.

So what exactly is the position of Tom Donohue and the Chamber on compensation? Teachers’ and firefighters’ salaries are too bloated, but CEOs’ salaries aren’t bloated enough.

Think Progress: Chamber Of Commerce’s Top SCOTUS Litigator Admits Justices Give Special Treatment to Chamber

In case you still had any doubts that the U.S. Chamber’s agenda was sponsoring little league teams and helping small town businesses, think again.  Aside from consistently spending the most to lobby Congress, a new report shows that the U.S. Chamber also has the most influence over the Roberts Supreme Court. Today, ThinkProgress reported on “a new study co-authored by conservative Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner” confirming that “the Roberts Court places a huge thumb on the scale in favor of corporate interests.” TP recapped a recent statement by a frequent Chamber litigator who said besides the soliticitor general “…no single entity has more influence on what cases the Supreme Court decides and how it decides them than the National Chamber Litigation Center.” Read the post here.

Why do Haley Barbour and the Chamber want Illinois to be more like Mississippi?

As GOP presidential contender Haley Barbour hits the stage at the Chicagoland Chamber today, you may want to ask him, “Why do you want Illinois to be more like Mississippi?”

Barbour spoke last week at the US Chamber for the release of their national “report” on how state employment policies (for example, whether there’s a favorable union climate for public employees) affect job growth. Predictably, the Chamber’s so-called “study” had some questionable findings— among them, that people in states that voted for Obama had a “poor” business climate.

So maybe that’s why the US Chamber has such a problem with Illinois?

In the Chamber’s report, Illinois’ business climate got a “Poor” rating for:

“Not [being] a right-to-work state” and because “Illinois has one of the highest rates of private-sector union membership at nearly 11 percent of the workforce.” [The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, The Impact of State Employment Policies on Job Growth:  A 50-State Review, 3/10/11]

Mississippi, meanwhile, got a “Good” rating from the Chamber, despite the fact that unemployment rates in Mississippi are a full percentage point higher (at 10.1% unemployment) than in Illinois (keeping pace with the national rate at 9 percent, its 12th straight month of decline).

Maybe Barbour can tell his Illinois audience why he wants their unemployment rates to go up?

Another Phony Report, Another Phony Jobs Argument

Well, the Chamber has done it again – issued another distorted report on job creation.  This seems to be the Chamber’s MO – devising and commissioning misleading reports on how many jobs have been lost due to reasonable reforms in policy or enforcement of regulations aimed to keep citizens sustained at a living wage, healthy, and safe from hazards, financial ruin, and discrimination.

The U.S. Chamber has, despite its rhetoric, become the chief roadblock to job creation in America.  If the Chamber truly cared about creating renewable energy jobs, it could’ve started by endorsing the clean energy bill proposed in Congress last session, which would have created over 1.7 million of them—and which the Chamber predictably denounced as “job-killing.” Then they could’ve have backed the Affordable Care Act (4 million new jobs) and the American Jobs Act (another 1 million), or even just stopped lobbying for policies that send American jobs overseas.

In addition to opposing recent major policy reforms that would have created millions of jobs, the Chamber has a phony report problem.  A report written by the Chamber last week on employment laws has already been debunked as “misleading” and “clearly not true” by leading economists.  A February Chamber report on derivatives was disowned by advisors to the firm that did the report, and in 2009 it was reported that the Chamber proposed spending $50,000 to hire a “respected economist” to write a report proving that the health care reform law would cost jobs – so much for honest research. Public Citizen, and the Nuclear Information and Resource Service have already called out the Chamber on its new report, so we’ll add it to the pile of unsubstantiated rhetoric on jobs.

Since we know “job creation” is the Chamber’s deceptive code word for “corporate profits,” one final question for the Chamber:

How many of your member companies are behind the stalled energy projects?  We wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Donohue got a little help from his friends compiling the report’s 351 “identified” stalled projects.

Here’s to another phony report, another phony jobs argument, brought to you by the U.S. Chamber.

Truth Seekers Beware: Chamber’s Dropping Another “Report” Today

Just one week after releasing a report on state employment laws that leading economists have called “misleading” and “clearly not true”, the Chamber is releasing another “report” today on the economic impact of stalled or cancelled energy projects.We foresee panic-inducing statistics about how many jobs would be created and money would be made if the “351 stalled or scrapped energy projects,” identified by the Chamber, were to be completed. Aside from anticipated arguments they will make against environmentalists, based on their already fiercely criticized climate policy, we predict this report will really be about the Chamber’s false concern for job creation.

We’ll keep beating the proverbial dead horse: to the Chamber, “job creation” means “a reasonable return to [a company’s] investors”  – Tom Donohue’s words not ours. This explains why the Chamber picks and chooses the policies it claims create jobs, opposing many that would have done so but may not have padded the fat cats that write its checks.

Based on the Chamber’s “Project No Project” website, we can take an educated guess that the report will again emphasize “shocking numbers” about many energy projects that have been stalled or stopped due to environmental concerns without taking into account the reasons for their cancellations or potential negative impacts they could have.

What makes us doubly sure that the Chamber won’t consider environmental impact? Just this week, it sent yet another letter to Congress listing the reasons it hates the EPA.  As the Chamber releases its report near the one year anniversary of both the Massey mining and British Petroleum disasters (both Chamber members companies), here are some questions to consider:

  • Will the jobs that the Chamber claims could be created this year account for the lives that could be lost in a serious environmental disaster?
  • Will the Chamber’s “stellar” stats account for other industries that would suffer if these projects were approved?
  • Who is paying for the report? Chevron? BP? (both Chamber members and/or donors)

We look forward to seeing the report (for some reason we never seem to get an advanced copy).  And then we look forward to the report’s inevitable debunking from journalists and experts who will inevitably have to explain why the report is misleading.

Finally, we’d like to thank the Chamber for yet another opportunity to debunk deceptive jobs numbers.  Suggestion for the next Chamber website: “Truth No Truth.”

“Chamber, Barbour: America Should Be More Like Mississippi(?!)”

Last week, the U.S. Chamber, with Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour at its side, released a “report” entitled “The Impact of State Employment Policies on Job Growth.”  In it, the Chamber rated each state “Good,” “Fair,” or “Poor,” – “Good” given to states with the least amount of employment regulation.  What neither the report, nor the Chamber, has not addressed is the obvious – that most of the states and highlighted cities receiving a “poor” rating…

1.)    Consistently have better quality of life scores than those states with a “good” rating
2.)    Are considered “blue” states politically

Critics have been coming out of the woodwork to denounce the Chamber’s mischaracterizing designations in the report and ask further questions which the Chamber has yet to answer. As you read the Chamber’s “report,” consider the following – but don’t expect an answer from the Chamber anytime soon.


Labor Economist Said States Chamber Scored Poorly Also Places Where Wages and Education Levels are High. “Many of the states that scored poorly in the chamber’s study happen to be places where wages and education levels are high, [Mark Price, labor economist with the left-leaning Keystone Research Center] added, noting that those factors aren’t detailed in the report. Mississippi, which was among the states assigned a good job creation climate, ranks last in median household income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. ‘The chamber’s basic recommendation is we should all become North Carolina or Mississippi,’ Mr. Price said….‘A lot of these things go to quality of life … these regulations are in place because people want them, because they protect them in various aspects of their lives,’ Mr. Price said.” [Times-Tribune, 3/4/11]

MS Ranked “Good” in Chamber Employment Report But Has Lowest Per-Capita Income, Lowest Life-Expectancy in U.S., Ranked 47th For Education, Last for Child Welfare. “According to the Census Bureau, the state [Mississippi] has the lowest per-capita income in the country, as well as the lowest life-expectancy. It ranks 47th on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual Report Card on American Education, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which rates states on the basis of child welfare, puts Mississippi dead last.” [ReMapping Debate, 3/7/11]

EPI Economist Said Chamber Assertion that Light Regulation Leads to Good Economic Performance was “Clearly Not True,” Not “In Universe of Proving It.” “Josh Bivens, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, also disputed the findings of the report. Essentially what they have found, he said, is that a group of lightly regulated states — including some who have lax regulation to promote mineral extraction industries — had a good decade. ‘They decided to exploit that by claiming that the light regulation led to good economic performance,’ he said. “That’s clearly not true, or at least they haven’t even gotten into the universe of proving it.’” [ReMapping Debate, 3/7/11]

“Americans by an Almost 2-1 Margin Seem to Prefer Living in Excessively Regulated States.” “How about this — Americans, by an almost 2-to-1 margin, seem to prefer living in excessively regulated states — 139,270,097 — than they do in free market capitalist paradises like Alabama or Idaho — 67,475,959. I haven’t crunched all the numbers yet, but I’ll also bet you that per capita incomes tend to be higher in the ‘poor’ states as well.” [Salon, 3/2/11]

Economist Found States Chamber Ranked “Good” Had Less Employment Creation than “Poor” Ranked States. “[Mark] Price [a labor economist with the Keystone Research Center] took the Chamber’s rankings and compared them with the percentage increase in jobs in every state from 1994 to 2010. What he found, he said, was that the states that are ranked ‘good’ in the report generally had less employment creation than the states that are classified as ‘poor.’” [ReMapping Debate, 3/7/11]


Salon: “The Chamber of Commerce’s War Against the Blue States: Places Where Lots Of People Who Voted For Obama Live Get A ‘Poor’ Ranking. “The 15 states rated as ‘good’ — meaning, low levels of regulation — by the Chamber are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia. The 15 states rated as ‘poor’ are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin. Notice any difference, besides the fact that the vast majority of ‘good’ states voted for McCain in the 2008 presidential election, and the vast majority of ‘poor’ states went for Obama?” [Salon, 3/2/11]

CHAMBER – WHAT SAY YOU?  NO RESPONSE – AGAIN (Barbour also had no response)

The Chamber Did Not Respond to Remapping Debate’s Inquiry re:

  • Why Chamber Gave “Good” Ratings to States With Poor Measures of Social Well-Being. “Remapping Debate asked the Chamber of Commerce to confirm and explain the fact that its ‘good’ for business ratings routinely went to states that fared poorly on measures of social well-being, and that its ‘poor’ for business ratings routinely went to states that fared well on measures of social well-being. The Chamber did not respond.” [ReMapping Debate, 3/7/11]
  • Clarification on Whether Other Factors, Beyond Those Considered, May be Important to Job Creation. “The Chamber of Commerce did not respond to a request for clarification on whether factors beyond those they considered might be more important to job creation than labor regulation.” [ReMapping Debate, 3/7/11]

MS Governor Haley Barbour’s Office Did Not Respond to Remapping Debate’s Inquiry re:

  • Whether MS’ Poverty Rate – Highest in U.S. – Was Function of Absence of State Worker Protections. “Gov. Barbour’s office did not respond to a request for comment on whether Mississippi’s poverty rate (21.9 percent in 2009, the highest in the country) was a function of its absence of supplementary state protections for workers.” [ReMapping Debate, 3/7/11]

International Women’s Day Bonus: The Top 5 Ways the US Chamber Stands Against Women

It’s that time of year again: Today, March 8th, marks the annual International Women’s Day, celebrated in thousands of events across the globe.  And while the women of US Chamber Watch aren’t expecting roses and a ticker-tape parade, we’re at least grateful that the US Chamber will likely refrain, this year, from denigrating our right to equal pay (that particular slam is reserved for the anniversary of women’s suffrage) or telling us that we should focus instead on getting a man (sadly, not a joke).

That’s not to say that Tommy Donohue and the Boys of the US Chamber have moved into the 21stcentury, or that their policies are ones that women of a modern age can truly rally behind. Not unless you’re the type of woman who really dislikes access to health care, or has a notable aversion to paid family leave. Or maybe, when you hear about Wal-Mart’s fight against women in the largest class action, sex discrimination case in history (a case for which the Chamber filed an amicus brief siding with Wal-Mart top brass), you find yourself rooting against the minimum-wage workers. In that case, this post probably isn’t for you.

But for the rest of us who wish the Chamber had a bit of a prouder record in standing up for the millions of women across America who own a business or just work for one, here’s our International Women’s Day gift to you: The Top 5 Ways in Which the Chamber Stands Against Women.

The U.S. Chamber’s Top 5 Policies Against American Women

1. The Chamber calls women’s fight for pay equity a “fetish for money,” and suggests that women should focus on “choosing the right partner at home.”  In August of 2010, the  U.S. Chamber of Commerce was forced to apologize for a post on the U.S. Chamber’s blog, ChamberPost, in which author Brad Peck scoffed that women’s fight for pay equity was nothing more than a “fetish for money,” and said women complaining about their pay should focus instead on “choosing the right partner at home.”  Both Peck and the Chamber’s COO, David Chavern, issued apologies for the offensive blogposts.  [ChamberPost, 8/18/10 ChamberPost, 8/19/10 ]

2. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce supports the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which Planned Parenthood calls “the greatest single advance for women’s access to health care in 45 years.”  U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said about the repeal of health care reform, “We see the upcoming House vote as an opportunity for everyone to take a fresh look at healthcare reform.”  [Reuters, 1/14/11 ; Planned Parenthood Press Release, 1/14/11]

3. The Chamber Opposes Paycheck Fairness.  The U.S. Chamber opposed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which restored the rights of victims of pay discrimination to get compensation for their losses.  The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act reversed a Supreme Court decision that prohibited victims of pay discrimination from suing their employers unless they filed the complaint within 180 days beginning, even if the discrimination was discovered much later.  The U.S. Chamber wrote, in opposing the law, that the bill overreaches and that the underlying Supreme Court decision which the bill sought to correct was “a common sense result that should be supported.”  [Letter of the United States Chamber of Commerce to Members of the United States Senate, 1/14/09;  New York Times, 1/29/09  ]

4. The Chamber sides against women in the largest sex discrimination case in history.  The U.S. Chamber has filed a amicus brief on behalf of Walmart in the sex discrimination case brought against the giant retailer.  Wal-mart was sued by employees who claimed that Wal-Mart paid female workers less than male colleagues and gave them fewer promotions.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has filed an amicus brief on behalf of Wal-mart seeking to throw out the certification of the class action lawsuit.  [National Chamber Litigation Center, Amicus brief, Wal-mart Stores Inc. v. Dukes et al , Docket # 10-277  ]

5. The Chamber Opposes Paid Family Leave. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s website, one of its labor policy priorities for 2010 was to “Oppose efforts to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by covering smaller businesses and making leave paid.” [U.S. Chamber of Commerce website, Accessed 8/18/10]

As for those events taking place across the globe today? You can find them happening everywhere from  Afghanistan to Zambia. Just don’t look for one to be taking place at 1600 H Street, NW in Washington, DC—the US Chamber headquarters.

This blogpost is also posted on FireDogLake