Politico: White House plan: Neuter the Chamber

Written by admin on October 19th, 2009

Politico’s story on the Obama Administration’s efforts to engage corporate leaders directly in order to gain their support on legislation.  Some high profile companies have left the US Chamber of Commerce recently as they feel the Chamber’s positions are adverse to their own.

Story here:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1009/28445.html

“It’s happening with the deliberate hope and attention to weaken the influence of this institute and the business community in town,” said Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs at the Chamber. “When they launch a frontal assault against free enterprise and the Chamber of Commerce, I can guarantee it is not lost on any trade association executives or staff in this town.”

But in recent weeks, the Chamber has repeatedly taken shots from within — with companies including Apple and PG&E leaving the group, and Nike quitting the Chamber’s board, to protest its opposition to cap-and-trade legislation that passed the House in late June.

And even some lobbyists are distancing themselves from the business group, opting not to sign on to letters put out by the Chamber or participate in joint advocacy efforts

“They’ve taken a real hit this year,” said a prominent Democratic lobbyist who spoke on background because he has associates at the group. “In the White House and on the Hill, among the people who run things, they are radioactive.”

Democrats in Congress have been angered by the Chamber’s attacks on the House climate change bill and its staunch opposition to the creation of a consumer financial protection agency, a centerpiece of the administration’s financial regulatory reform efforts. And like Jarrett, some of them seem eager to paint the group as grounded more in political ideology than in business reality.

“There’s a strong, very conservative ideology there,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). “They’re more like The Heritage Foundation then they are like an economic association.”

Frank, whose committee is in the midst of marking up regulatory reform legislation, says he’s rarely in touch with the Chamber — a damaging blow for a group known for its aggressive lobbying and fundraising efforts. Last year, the Chamber spent $91 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The Best Government Money Can Buy? is a non partisan documentary film about the links between lobbying and campaign finance.

 

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