After publicly sparring in the fall, the White House and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are trying to make up.
In an extraordinary exchange of letters written after last week’s State of the Union address, Chamber President Tom Donohue and President Barack Obama agreed to disagree on some issues and work together where they can.
Collusion between big corporations and the White House? Isn’t that what helped bring on the Great Recession? We’re thinking we need more coziness between Wall Street and Washington like we need another dive in our economy – or more policies that line the pockets of big oil and big pharma at our expense. Even before the Supreme Court’s outrageous decision in Citizens United v. FEC, the Chamber was lobbying heavily and buying ads to defeat efforts to address the very health care, climate change and financial crises they helped to create.
Now the Chamber has a new weapon – the right to unlimited spending to defeat or elect candidates. With this new weapon pointed at members of Congress who have supported the president’s progressive policies, this change in Obama’s tone should come as no surprise.
True, President Obama’s changed attitude toward the corporate lobbying machine could very well be another manifestation of his professed desire to find agreement in the middle, and to be a unifier. But let’s face it – if you’re in the middle of a heated discussion, and your opponent is handed a loaded weapon, your tone is probably going to change.
The threat looms, and the Chamber doesn’t even have to say the words, “We’ll spend whatever it takes to defeat you.”