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Sorry Chamber of Commerce, we've been there, done that

chamberThe U.S. Chamber of Commerce has a launched a new marketing campaign to sell Americans on the idea that low taxes, less government regulation and unfettered trade is the thing that’s going to return this country to economic prosperity. I’m sure there’s a bridge somewhere in Brooklyn they’d like to sell us, too. To listen to Chamber President Tom Donohue, what this country really needs is a return to the days of . . . George W. Bush.

It seems the Chamber and its friends on Wall Street have very short memories. As Public Citizen President Robert Weissman said today, they mock us by handing out obscene salaries and bonuses, just a year after the American taxpayer bailed them out to the tune of trillions in cash and supports.

As troubling as the scale and audacity of these payments may be, what is most appalling is that they are, in large measure, the result of Wall Street resuming exactly the same speculative gambling and consumer rip-off strategies that crashed the financial system in the first place.

As the U.S. House Financial Services Committee debates creating a strong watchdog agency to prevent destructive and unfair financial practices, it’s hardly a surprise that one of the loudest opponents is, you guessed it, the Chamber of Commerce.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka took the Chamber to task in the Huffington Post:

The Chamber is spending $2 million in attack ads, claiming that the new agency would hamstring even your local butcher from extending you credit for a week. It’s the same sorry effort at deception and outright lies that the health insurance industry now is trying to pull in the debate over health care reform. Tell enough lies and hope someone believes you.

The Chamber is hoping to that its expensive ad campaign will make it appear that they are offering constructive, positive ideas but this doesn’t jibe with its obstructionist, anti-reform lobbying. It’s the Chamber that has put corporate interests ahead of yours and mine by doing everything it can to kill important climate change legislation, despite the mountain of scientific evidence that says if we don’t do something quick to combat global warming we will face dire consequences not a generation from now but 10 years from now.

And now the Chamber is swarming Capitol Hill with lobbyists intent on killing financial reforms. The Sunlight Foundation reports that the Chamber is employing, directly or through contractors, 34 lobbyists registered to lobby on financial regulation, including 19 former government employees:

John Michael Gonzalez is one of the nineteen former government officials hired to lobby with the Chamber of Commerce. Up until this year, Gonzalez was the chief of staff to Financial Services Committee member Melissa Bean. Bean is currently pushing to remove a provision from the Consumer Financial Protection Act that would allow states to craft stronger consumer protections. The move is backed by national banks and trade groups like the Chamber of Commerce. Bean has received over 40% of her 2009 campaign contributions from the finance, insurance and real estate sector.