Posted by Sam Jewler on January 09, 2014
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.
When the Chamber pushes for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would ship oil out of the country, likely leading to higher U.S. energy prices and higher profits for companies, while handing much of the environmental risk to the people of the Midwest and South, whose growth and opportunity are we talking about?
In his 2014 State of American Business Address, Donohue referred to the Chamber’s National Litigation Center as a “public interest” law firm – an insidious mischaracterization for a group that that works relentlessly to restrict consumers’ access to courts and ability to hold corporations accountable for bad behavior.
And we have to wonder what the Chamber’s rampant political spending and attempts to undermine laws against bribing foreign officials say about its respect for democracy.
In December 2013, John Cridland, the director-general of the U.S. Chamber’s British counterpart, the Confederation of British Industry, said, “As the financial situation of many firms begins to turn a corner, one of the biggest challenges facing businesses is to deliver growth that will mean better pay and more opportunities for all their employees after a prolonged squeeze. … There are still far too many people stuck in minimum wage jobs without routes to progression – and that’s a serious challenge that businesses and the government must address.”
Until we hear Mr. Donohue say – and act on – something like the CBI’s example, the evidence overshadows his words: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants growth and opportunity for the largest corporations. Everything else is public relations.