Chamber of Commerce Flip-Flops on Retroactive Legislation

As you’ve likely heard, the Chamber of Commerce has officially endorsed government welfare to limit corporate risk. (Again.)

The head of the United States Chamber of Commerce said Friday that his group is not yet lobbying against legislative efforts to raise BP’s liability cap, viewing the issue as not yet “ripe.”

He signaled, however, that his group would figure out a way to get the government to share in the cost of cleaning up the Gulf Coast.

It is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game,” said Tom Donohue, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “. . . Everybody is going to contribute to this clean up. 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.” [my emphasis]

And like an obedient orange puppy, John Boehner has embraced the Chamber’s call for government welfare for corporations.

I do agree with Steve Benen that the Republican (and Mary Landrieu) embrace of big oil ahead of taxpayers ought to be a game changer.

But I’d also like to note how, um, opportunistic the Chamber is with its insistence that “it is generally not the practice of this country to change the laws after the game.” This is what the Chamber wrote to pressure the House to support a FISA amendment that invalidated a law holding telecoms liable for illegal wiretapping of private citizens.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, strongly supports S. 2248, the “FISA Amendments Act of 2007,” as passed by the Senate on February 12, 2008. The Chamber believes that this bill, in its current form, provides necessary, appropriate, and targeted relief commensurate with the threat to national security that arose in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.

The Chamber represents companies across various industries which own or operate vital components of the nation’s critical physical, virtual, and economic infrastructures. The federal government continually depends upon such industries for cooperation and assistance in national security matters, including homeland security programs and activities. The government also turns to these companies in times of crisis, when the speed, agility, and creativity of the private sector can be critical to averting a terrorist attack.

Therefore, the Chamber urges the House to consider S. 2248 and pass this bipartisan compromise legislation. The Chamber firmly believes that the immunity provisions in S. 2248 are imperative to preserving the self-sustaining “public-private partnership” that both Congress and the Executive Branch have sought to protect the United States in the post-September 11 world. [my emphasis]

Of course, the Chamber is being utterly consistent on one point. That’s in lobbying to make sure big corporations never pay for the negative consequences–be they legal or financial–of their actions.

Chamber of Commerce Bids “Campaign for Free Enterprise” to Attack the Bailouts It Doesn’t Like

Josh is right–Jeanne Cummings’ report that the Chamber of Commerce is launching a "Campaign for Free Enterprise" seems to have regurgitated the Chamber’s press release uncritically:

The Politico has a report on a proposed plan from the US Chamber of Commerce to spend up to $100 million on opposing President Obama’s various economic, energy and health care reforms. But it’s a bit hard to distinguish the Politico article from a Chamber press release. Here are some nuggets from the article itself …

As the Obama administration encroaches deeper into the private sector and Congress contemplates more regulations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign to defend the free market system.

Taken together, the government could soon determine who gets a mortgage, which cars
consumers can buy, the type of treatments patients will get and how many credit cards a person can carry.

The government won’t let me buy a Toyota? Do I have to buy a GM car? Really?

 I’m guessing this claim came right from the press release, too:

The administration’s aggressive action on so many fronts has put the business community on defense in a way not seen in more than a decade — and it’s losing more often than it’s winning.

But in addition to questioning whether the business community is losing more than it’s winning–and whether we’ll still be able to buy Toyotas–I’d have liked Cummings to ask one more critical question: about timing. The Chamber of Commerce did not launch this campaign when Bush took an even bigger stake in AIG. It did not launch this campaign when the Federal Government dumped billions of TARP dollars to keep the banking system afloat. In fact, the Chamber’s Tom Donohue all but admits he’s happy that the bankers got to suck at the federal teat for the last nine months.

“Dire economic circumstances have certainly justified some out-of-the-ordinary remedial actions by government,” said Chamber President Tom Donohue, referring to the bank bailouts and the $787 billion economic stimulus program.

What bugs Donohue, apparently, is not the possibility that corporations can be massive recipients of federal welfare. What appears to bother him is that the federal government would ask something else in exchange or–shockers!!–compete with the private sector in something like health care (buzz me when Donohue starts complaining that FedEx has to compete against the postal service). 

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