Most of us are aware that large corporations donate to political campaigns and to politicians running for office. Furthermore, once in office, lawmakers still receive money, directly or indirectly, from those same large corporations to ensure that the laws they enact are favorable to their benefactors. But did you also know that these same large corporations donate to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce?
What is the Chamber of Commerce?
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, based in Washington, D.C., is the world's largest business association, sort of a “union” for business owners. It represents and lobbies for the interests of businesses. It opposes tax hikes for rich individuals and corporations, government regulation of business and spending on social programs. The expression “free enterprise”, like a mantra, is found all over their website.
According to the mission statement published on their website, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce asserts, “As the voice of business, the Chamber's core purpose is to fight for free enterprise before Congress, the White House, regulatory agencies, the courts, the court of public opinion, and governments around the world.”
Free enterprise for whom?
Although the Chamber of Commerce claims it represents the interests of small business, boasting that 96 percent of U.S. Chamber members are small businesses with 100 or fewer employees, it is a relatively small group of big corporate donors that finance the Chamber’s political agenda. Nearly half of its $140 million in contributions in 2008 came from just 45 donors. These large donations, all anonymously given, coincided with lobbying efforts that potentially affected the donors.
For instance, an article published by the New York Times Oct. 21 revealed that Prudential Financial donated $2 million last year to initiate a campaign to weaken new financial regulations that Congress and President Obama were proposing. These new financial regulations would impose restrictions on banks and protect consumers from predatory lending practices, among other provisions. They would also regulate derivatives, the complex financial instruments blamed for causing the credit crunch.
Dow Chemical gave another $1.7 million to help the Chamber fight proposed rules that would impose tighter security requirements on chemical facilities.
Health insurance companies contributed at least $10 million to the Chamber last year to combat President Obama’s health care legislation.
Other corporations such as Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, also have donated large amounts of money in the last few years to the Chamber of Commerce to finance the fight against federal regulations and government spending on social programs.
The Chamber has been criticized for accepting foreign money; however, there is no shortage of U.S. companies all too eager to donate, completely anonymously, to the Chamber of Commerce to help do its dirty work.
In addition to its lobbying efforts, the Chamber of Commerce also spent millions on the midterm elections, overwhelmingly supporting conservative candidates.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce does not promote economic growth nor seek ways to improve the lives of workers. Its function is to serve the large businesses that funnel millions of dollars into its coffers.
This is yet another way the ruling class ensures its control in a so-called democracy.