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ConservaDems Champion the Chamber

(photo by gak)

(photo by gak)

I’ve had a lot of concerns about the neoliberal agenda that seems to drive much of what comes out of the White House. But if there’s been one strategy that I wholeheartedly concur with, it has been their effort to dismantle the Chamber of Commerce and disempower Fox.

The Chamber is the heart of the conservative beast. Although many associate it with their community chapters and local business, the national organization spent over a hundred million on lobbying alone last year. It was the Chamber who commissioned the Powell memo in the 70s, from which the modern right-wing infrastructure sprang. Fox has in recent years acted as its media arm.

And, this morning, we have Rahm’s Blue Dogs attacking the White House efforts:

“It’s a mistake,” said Rep. Jason Altmire, a moderate Democrat from western Pennsylvania. “I think it’s beneath the White House to get into a tit for tat with news organizations.”

Altmire was talking about the Obama administration’s efforts to undercut Fox News. But he said his remarks applied just the same to White House efforts to marginalize the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a powerful business lobby targeted for its opposition to climate change legislation.

Take it away, Brad Ellsworth:

Rep. Brad Ellsworth of Indiana, for example, has this testimonial from a Chamber official on his site: “On issues ranging from lowering taxes to increasing trade, Indiana’s businesses and workers have no better friend than Brad Ellsworth.”

Ellsworth got a $5,000 campaign contribution from the Chamber in the past election.

But, it isn’t all Blue Dogs. Here’s Progressive Caucus member Jim Moran:

“There’s no reason to gratuitously piss off all those companies,” added another Democrat, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia. “The Chamber isn’t an opponent.”

Yeah, actually, they are the opponent. On everything from the environment to energy to labor issues, trade, and health care. That members of Congress don’t realize that isn’t a surprise. And I don’t mean that as a compliment.

And let’s find a reason for granting anonymity for this quote:

A senior House Democrat, speaking on the condition of anonymity while questioning the wisdom of the White House strategy, said: “I have no problem with [going after] Rush at all. I don’t have much of a problem with Fox. I think the Chamber’s another story.”

Rush beats them up, but the Chamber can be relied upon to give them money when they put the “for sale” sign out.

The creation of Business Forward, a competitor to the Chamber that the White House has encouraged, is one of the smartest things I think they’ve done. It was launched in March and has been steadily picking off big companies from the Chamber ever since.

Sure we’ll end up fighting them, too, because business wants what’s good for business, over the interests of consumers. But the giant, monolithic power of the Chamber seriously needs to be dismantled. Their infrastructure is always going to default to helping the GOP and they’ve got enormous resources to do just that. If Rahm’s going to keep business money out of GOP coffers (something I support wholeheartedly, just not as a prime directive) taking apart the Chamber is imperative.

Somebody get the memo to the ConservaDems.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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