More Tired Bromides From U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue

Jan. 8, 2014

More Tired Bromides From U.S. Chamber President Tom Donohue

Statement by Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: Public Citizen runs U.S. Chamber Watch, a project designed to shed light on the funding and practices of the largest private interest lobbyist in America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In his annual State of American Business address, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue today once again presented a skewed picture of the state of the economy.

Notably absent from his presentation was an acknowledgment that corporate profits and stock values are at record highs, even as unemployment remains far too high and wages remain stagnant.

Since he gives pretty much the same speech every year, there’s little in Donohue’s talk that is surprising. Still, a few comments are in order.

First, Donohue whined about the burden of regulation, even as we still suffer from the Great Recession, which was a direct outgrowth of too little regulation and enforcement. This complaint comes despite no evidence that regulation meaningfully impedes job growth and despite lots of evidence that regulation protects and creates new jobs (not to mention making jobs safer, better paid and equitability available).

Second, he continues to call for more NAFTA-style trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a NAFTA-on-steroids deal that would encumber every country on the Pacific Rim. This call comes despite an abundance of evidence that this trade model has cost jobs, lowered living standards and undermined our sovereign ability to set our own safety and health protections.

Third, Donohue continues to call for the export of fossil fuels from the United States, a move that not only would increase gas prices for consumers, but also would speed up the rate of catastrophic climate change by slowing the adoption of clean, renewable energy sources.

Fourth, when he says that the U.S. Chamber will continue to fight against “frivolous litigation,” he means that he aims to further restrict rights for victims of corporate wrongdoing.

Fifth, Donohue reiterated that the Chamber intends to turn “the upcoming elections into a motivator for change.” Which is a fancy way of saying the Chamber intends, again, to launder tens of millions of Dark Money provided by anonymous corporate donors to influence election outcomes and intimidate politicians.

Donohue concluded his speech by expressing the groundless concern that we are “taking from the young in order to support the old.” This is his way of the expressing on behalf of CEO millionaires the idea that we should cut the Social Security and Medicare benefits that are our most important anti-poverty program and make our society more just and compassionate.

If Tom Donohue and the Chamber of Commerce are actually concerned with the well-being of future generations, there’s nothing more important they could do than end their opposition to measures to avert catastrophic climate change, and instead support the transition we desperately need to a clean energy future. One that, incidentally, will save energy costs for American businesses and help create millions of new jobs.

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