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Top 10 Ways the U.S. Chamber Hurts Americans. 1. First in Line for a Bailout Even after the calamitous collapse of Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Lehman Bros.,

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Presentation on theme: "Top 10 Ways the U.S. Chamber Hurts Americans. 1. First in Line for a Bailout Even after the calamitous collapse of Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Lehman Bros.,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Top 10 Ways the U.S. Chamber Hurts Americans

2 1. First in Line for a Bailout Even after the calamitous collapse of Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, Lehman Bros., Bear Stearns and AIG, the U.S. Chamber kept fighting for weaker regulations and less accountability for its big Wall Street members. Yet when the market collapsed under the weight of Wall Street schemes gone wrong, the Chamber was the first to plead for massive, unconditional bailouts. [1] [2][1][2]

3 2. The Leading Denier of Climate Change The U.S. Chamber has been one of the world’s leading opponents of policies to curtail climate change, even threatening to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its reform efforts. Major companies, such as Apple, and energy companies PG&E, PNM Resources and Exelon, have left the organization in protest of the Chamber’s climate change stance. [3][3]

4 3. Do As I Say Not As I Sue The U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform spent more than $226 million in the past decade lobbying the federal government to restrict Americans’ ability to hold corporations accountable when they are harmed by dangerous products and services. At the same time, the Chamber’s National Chamber Litigation Center engages in an average of two lawsuits a week on behalf of its multinational corporate members. [4][4]

5 4. Big Business Only The U.S. Chamber claims to represent small businesses, but 55 percent of its funding comes from just 16 giant corporations. Major corporations dominate the Chamber’s agenda to such an extent that many state and local chambers have abandoned the national organization. [5][5]

6 5. Beholden to Foreign Corporations Even being a major U.S. corporation isn’t always enough to win the U.S. Chamber’s favor. Foreign corporate members of the Chamber often get priority treatment over American companies. After multiple Middle Eastern petroleum companies began contributing to the Chamber, the organization pushed against limiting dependence on foreign oil, saying such measures were a “job-killing energy tax.” In another instance, the Chamber flew Hill representatives to France to be wined and dined with Airbus executives, when the European manufacturer was in direct competition with U.S. manufacturer Boeing. [6] [7][6][7]

7 6. Drowning Elections in Corporate Money The U.S. Chamber threatens the nation’s democratic process by secretly pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into state elections on behalf of their own pro-corporate candidates, often to the dismay of state and local chambers of commerce that prefer not to enter into the electoral process. At least 40 local chambers of commerce have abandoned the national organization in response. [8][8]

8 7. Tampering with Juries Not content with closing the courthouse door to individuals while they fill it with suits on behalf of their corporate clients (see #5), the U.S. Chamber has consistently been linked with attempts to tamper with juries. The Washington Post identified the Chamber as “one of a growing number of advocacy groups that blur the distinction between legitimate media and propaganda to promote their causes.” And in one case, after disgraced accountancy firm Arthur Andersen was convicted of witness-tampering, the Chamber filed a brief in their defense claiming the corporation’s actions were acceptable because they were “part of numerous businesses’ everyday routine.” [9] [10][9][10]

9 8. Stepping Up for the World's Worst Polluters After causing the worst oil spill in U.S. history, UK-based BP turned to the U.S. Chamber to thwart any punishment or regulation federal and state lawmakers would try to impose on the corporation. The Chamber and BP have a long history together, so it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when shortly after the oil started gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Chamber CEO Tom Donohue leaped to BP’s defense, saying that American taxpayers should help pay for BP’s mess. This statement came just days after Donohue chided President Obama for taking responsibility to ensure the spill was cleaned up. [11] [12] [13][11][12][13]

10 9. Pushing the Corporate "Get Out of Jail Free“ Card Forced arbitration is the corporate “Get Out of Jail Free” card, and no one has pushed it harder than the U.S. Chamber. Time and again the Chamber pushes to take away Americans’ right to justice by placing pre-dispute forced arbitration clauses in the fine print of contracts. These ubiquitous clauses force Americans into a private system of “justice” that is largely controlled by the major corporations who have harmed them. And there is no way to appeal if you lose. Anyone who has a credit card, a cell phone or a mortgage and many people who have a family member living in a nursing home have probably been forced to sign away their legal rights. And most probably won’t know they have until they try to take a dispute to court. The U.S. Chamber has been a leading advocate of these contracts for consumers, but, not surprisingly considering its two-faced attitude to all things justice, the Chamber also opposes arbitration when it comes to union contracts, where workers would have the upper hand. [14][14]

11 10. Funneling Special Interest Money into Washington Having spent nearly a billion dollars lobbying Congress since 2000, the U.S. Chamber has succeeded in poisoning Washington with money funneled from big businesses into their own pet projects. Oil and gas companies, drug companies, asbestos companies, chemical companies, and others, have all enjoyed massive political and media campaigns in support of legislation that would benefit their industries but are extremely unpopular with the public. This arrangement allows the Chamber to be the bad guy while the corporations get favorable laws and anonymity. Of course this service comes at a steep price. Undeterred by the unwelcome attention of the IRS, the Chamber even maintains separate accounts to hide the money used to dispense its multimillion dollar favors. [15] [16][15][16]

12 Sources [1] Lee Fang, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Coordinating Wall Street’s Stealth Lobbying Campaign to Kill Reform, ThinkProgress, April 24, 2010, [2] David R. Sands and Kara Rowland, Hill Support Erodes for Bailout Funding, Washington Times, January 15, 2009, [3] David A. Fahrenthold, Apple Leaves U.S. Chamber Over Its Climate Position, Washington Post, October 6, 2009, [4] The Chamber Litigation Machine, American Association for Justice (AAJ), 2010,http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xbcr/justice/ChamberLitigationMachine2010.pdf.http://www.justice.org/cps/rde/xbcr/justice/ChamberLitigationMachine2010.pdf [5] Bill McKibben, The Chamber of Commerce is Darkening Our Skies, Grist, February 23, 2011, s-chamber-of-commerce-darkens-the-skies/.http://grist.org/climate-change/ the-u- s-chamber-of-commerce-darkens-the-skies/ [6] Brad Johnson, Chamber of Commerce is Fueled by Foreign Oil, ThinkProgress, October 23, 2010, [7] Al Kamen, Chamber Soars, Boeing Hits Ceiling, Washington Post, April 1, 2002, [8] Jeanne Cummings, Angry member groups shun U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Politico, December 7, 2010, [9] Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Advocacy Groups Blur Media Lines, Washington Post, December 6, 2004, dyn/articles/A Dec5.html.http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp- dyn/articles/A Dec5.html [10] Revisiting the death of Andersen, Chicago Tribune, January 19, 2005, 19/news/ _1_andersen-lawyers-andersen-jurors-arthur-andersen-llp.http://articles.chicagotribune.com/ /news/ _1_andersen-lawyers-andersen-jurors-arthur-andersen-llp [11] Jason Linkins, Chamber Of Commerce Says Taxpayers Should Help Pay For BP Spill Cleanup; GOP Leader Agrees, Then Recants, Huffington Post, June 10, 2010, [12] Dianna Heitz, U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Don't over regulate BP, Politico, May 28, 2010, [13] U.S. Chamber Watch, The U.S. Chamber and BP, Public Citizen, [14] Art Levine, Why Does Chamber of Commerce Favor Arbitration for Workplace Rape Victims, But Oppose It for Union Workers?, Washington Monthly, June 17, 2009, [15] Chamber lobbying expenditures since 2000 were $850 million – Center for Responsive Politics, [16] Jim Vandehei, Business Lobby Recovers Its Clout By Dispensing Favors for Members, Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2001,


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