June 13, 2016

Groups Call on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Change Course, Take Six Steps to Be More Transparent and Responsible

Chamber’s Harmful Agenda Doesn’t Reflect the Views of Most Businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Saying that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a shill for Big Business, more than 20 organizations today called on the trade association to follow six principles that would make it a more transparent and responsible player in the American political system.

“The Chamber’s agenda, despite its lofty claims to the contrary, has little to do with improving the American economy and everything to do with improving the bottom lines of the Chamber’s multinational donors who supply the lion’s share of financial support to the Chamber,” the statement said.

The Chamber, which spent more than $1.2 billion on lobbying activities since 1998, is the nation’s largest lobbyist. A 2014 analysis conducted by Public Citizen showed that just 64 donors have provided more than half of the association’s reported contributions, signifying that majority of their funding originates from a handful of deep-pocketed entities (indications are that these numbers have increased since then.)

“Repeatedly, the Chamber has lobbied and/or litigated against environmental protections, against action on climate change, against whistle-blower protections, to restrict consumers and workers’ access to the civil justice system, against consumer and worker protection regulations, against efforts to reduce tobacco consumption, against political spending disclosure, against incorporation transparency legislation, against financial reform, against efforts to restrict multinationals from exploiting tax loopholes, and against a living wage,” according to the statement.

The groups called for the Chamber to:

  • Disclose the original sources of the donations it receives and the money it directs towards election and lobbying campaigns.
  • Recognize the danger posed by climate change and the need to promote sustainable businesses.
  • Recognize that paying employees a living wage improves productivity and worker retention, while stimulating the American economy.
  • Recognize that limiting the size and risk profiles of large financial institutions is necessary to safeguard the global economy.
  • Recognize that access to the courts and environmental, consumer, public health, and worker protection laws and regulations are essential to creating and preserving a large and healthy middle class.
  • Recognize that the tax code should not favor large multinationals over small businesses and every day Americans.

Groups representing a wide variety of interests, including business, consumers, the environment, people of faith, workers, the press, and social and economic justice, signed on to the principles.

The breadth of support for the statement of principles demonstrates the scope and reach of the Chamber’s harmful agenda.

“The Chamber’s agenda has little to do with improving the American economy and instead has worked to appease their multinational donors,” says Daniel Dudis, director of Public Citizen’s U.S. Chamber Watch program. “If the Chamber is truly serious about representing the interests of all businesses, revitalizing the American economy, creating jobs and spurring growth, then it will work to adopt these principles as part of its agenda.”

“The U.S. Chamber is nothing more than a front group for Big Business,” said Cloe Franko of Corporate Accountability International. “On every important issue of our time, from public health to trade to climate change, the Chamber has consistently fought to protect the profits of abusive transnational corporations over the thousands of small businesses it claims to represent, let alone the needs of people around the world.”

The Chamber did not always pursue such an extreme agenda. In this election year, the time has come for the Chamber to reform itself and begin pursuing a more nuanced agenda more in line with the best interests of most American businesses, workers and the economy as a whole.

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