The US Chamber of Commerce, the Enemy Within?

Submitted by: Mike Spindell, guest blogger.

During the Cold War a phrase “The Enemy Within” became popular. It was a reference at first to Communist subversion exemplified by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s witch-hunt.  Later it was used with other issues such as in Robert F. Kennedy’s book “The Enemy Within” which dealt with corruption in the Labor Movement, specifically Jimmy Hoffa and his teamsters. Recently, Michael Savage, right wing talk show host, wrote a book using that same title, though in this case referring to liberals and progressives as being seditious. The connotation of this phrase is that the group so labeled represents an internal movement that is so dangerous to the interests of the United States, that it can be seen as subversive.

Some may be shocked then by the title of this post. Almost all of us have grown up thinking of the Chamber of Commerce as a uniquely American Institution. Throughout the US whether in cities or in hamlets, the business community has banded together to promote local commerce and build interrelated networks. When we think of this, we think mainly of local small businesses, which are the backbone of this nation’s economy. To be honest until this week I’ve never give much thought to the Chamber of Commerce until as a member I received a petition from an affiliated new organization called SumOfUs.

SumOfUs is a brand-new global movement of consumers, investors and workers using our collective economic power for good. Together, we will work to hold the world’s corporations accountable to the public interest and move our global economic system towards social equity, democratic principles, and long-term sustainability.”

The purpose of the petition was to get Google to follow the lead of other large corporations and quit the US Chamber of Commerce. The petition made various claims regarding the US Chamber of Commerce which I’ll deal with in this post.

However, I wouldn’t present this post without doing some research on the “Chamber” and its’ activity to look into the validity of the claims being made by the SumOfUs organization. In doing this research I came to realize that in my opinion the United States Chamber of Commerce is an organization that does not act in the best interests of this country and that one can call it subversive, even though it is not treasonous. These are my reasons for this belief.

My supposition was that “chambers of commerce” were a uniquely American institution and I discovered I was wrong in that belief. The first chamber of commerce was founded in France in 1599. This type of institution is defined as:

 “A chamber of commerce (also referred to in some circles as a board of trade) is a form of business network, e.g., a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses. Business owners in towns and cities form these local societies to advocate on behalf of the business community. Local businesses are members”

Contrast the information contained in the above link with this information on the United States Chamber of Commerce:

 “The United States Chamber of Commerce (USCC) is an American lobbying group representing the interests of many businesses and trade associations. It is not an agency of the United States government.”

“the Chamber claims a direct membership of 300,000 businesses, and 3 million through its various affiliates such as state and local chambers.[6] Some of the Chamber’s members and donors are Goldman Sachs, Chevron, Texaco, and Aegon

We see that rather than a business networking organization, as are most local Chambers of Commerce. The US Chamber is specifically a lobbying organization. In fact it is the largest lobbyist in our country. Not only is it the largest lobbyist in the US, but its major source of support comes from a small number of multi-national corporations, whose natural interests are not those of the United States, or of its people.

“Although the Chamber has misrepresented itself and claimed to represent 3 million businesses (later modified to 300,000 after a Mother Jones exposé), in reality it actually represents a small group of multinational corporations. In 2008, half of its donations came from just 45 corporate donors. In 2009, nearly half of the Chamber’s money came from a single donation from the health insurance industry trade association. Moreover, the Chamber doesn’t appear to truly care about jobs or small businesses — evidenced by the fact that the Chamber killed legislation to create millions of new clean energy jobs and expand America’s competitive advantage in clean energy technology.”

Journalist, pundits and TV News Readers constantly reference the USCOC as an organization working in the interests of American Business. I contend that this is not the case. My opinion is that the interests of American Business and those of the multi-national base support of the USCOC are actually inimical to each other. The basis of my belief is first based on the logic of the contention. Were I the CEO of a multi-national corporation my correct interest would be in succeeding in the Global Marketplace. This would entail looking for the largest markets by population, catering to those populations and also finding the cheapest labor possible. In my long range planning as a multi-national CEO the tribulations of the US labor market, the needs of US based businesses and their inability to compete in the global market would be of little concern. The total populations of China and India in 2011 are 2.5 billion people; US population is 314 million. As these and other population centers increase, their sheer numbers make them more attractive than a US market of declining income and vanishing industrial capacity.

Above I’ve laid out the schematics of my argument that the USCOC represents a subversive element in our country that will in the end succeed in making America indistinguishable from a third world nation. Now let me present some specific arguments that lead me to this conclusion.

1.-“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is responsible for many of the policies that have made America the most unequal in terms of income/wealth distribution in the industrialized world. On tax policy, the Chamber has pushed efforts to repeal the estate tax while helping to pass the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. Corporate tax loopholes promoted by the Chamber ensure that corporations like ExxonMobil pay zero corporate income taxes while regular American workers foot much of the Treasury’s bill. The Chamber also opposed the creation of a minimum wage, and has lobbied against nearly every increase in the federal minimum wage. “

2.-“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce doesn’t even necessarily represent American businesses. As first reported by ThinkProgress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently began a fundraising program soliciting foreign corporations to give to the Chamber’s account that in turn was used to run attack ads during the midterm elections. The Chamber admitted that it fundraises from foreign donors, but has refused to reveal how it finances its political campaign expenditures. ThinkProgress noted that the Chamber has aided its foreign members by lobbying this year to kill a bill to close tax loopholes for businesses that ship jobs overseas, and has even sponsored seminars to teach businesses how to ship their jobs to places like China.”

3.-“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce often places the profits of its member companies over American foreign policy objectives. Last year, the Chamber lobbied against President Obama’s efforts to place economic sanctions on Iran. In 1941, the Chamber was one of the most outspoken opponents of intervening in World War II (Chamber officials feared that war would give Roosevelt more power and wartime spending would lead to higher deficits, then higher taxes).”

4.- “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has worked to give corporations unfettered control of government. For instance, the Chamber successfully filed an amicus brief in the Citizens United case to roll back nearly a century of campaign finance laws. Because of the Chamber’s efforts, corporations can spend unlimited amounts in American elections. Now the Chamber is attempting to repeal legislation aimed at discouraging American businesses from bribing foreign governments.”

My argument here has been specifically about the USCOC being an American organization, whose interests and actions are inimical to the interests of the United States in the global marketplace, focusing more on the needs of their chief funders which are multi-national Corporations. Goldman Sachs, Chevron, Texaco, Aegon, GE, Exxon and even Ford are no longer American companies, even if some were founded by Americas in America. They are multi-nationals and their interests are perforce not coincident to the interests of this country, or its’ people. The United States Chamber of Commerce is primarily supported by multi-national entities and its lobbying efforts are focussed upon the needs of these non-american entities. This must be recognized so that people can understand that not only does the USCOC work against the interests of the America people, but it also works against the interests of American businesses.

There are further arguments detailing the pernicious nature of the USCOC that can be found at this link:  I think you will find them informative and persuasive. They discuss the opposition of the USCOC to worker’s rights; civil rights; women’s rights; LBGT rights; environmental responsibility; global warming; health care reform; net neutrality; and many other issues. The USCOC in my opinion is a pernicious lobbying organization. It probably has acted within legal boundaries and therefore it has a right as an organization to act in what it defines as its own interests. However, I think people should generally be aware of the nature of this institution and use that information to decide whether its policies ad efforts should be supported, or opposed. I’ve presented my opinion with what I consider to be evidence supporting my contention. I invite the reader to examine it and come to their own conclusions.

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~Submitted by Mike Spindell, Guest Blogger

38 thoughts on “The US Chamber of Commerce, the Enemy Within?”

  1. angryman/Mike/carol,

    While the dictionary definition is not an inappropriate fit, treason happens to be the only Constitutionally defined crime:

    “U.S. Constitution, Art. III, Section 3 – Treason

    Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

    The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.”

    Their actions may be treason in fact, but not in law. Contrast this to the Bush Administrations aid to Saudi nationals in fleeing the country – including some of bin Ladens’ family – and their subsequent illegal invasion of Iraq (who didn’t attack us) instead of Saudi Arabia (where the bulk of the manpower and funding for the attack came from) and you’ll see the difference. The Bush Administration were traitors at law and in fact. The USCOC are merely subversives. They haven’t aided the enemy nor do they seek the overthrow of the government, but rather they seek to subvert the government from its proper role in serving all citizens into an organization that serves only the USCOC’s profit motives; turning a representative democracy into a plutocratic oligarchy.

    1. Gene,
      I stand corrected and will bow to your greater knowledge. Still Sedition sounds like one Hootnanny of a charge. I say we go for it.
      Seriously though if this were a Liberal organization; they would be screaming about Communist Subversive Plots and Socialist Fifth Columnists and where; Oh where is Joe Mc Carthy when we need him?
      I can’t help but think that it is a mistake to overlook these actions.

    1. Carol,
      I’m sorry but if you would indulge an old Angryman and explain how exactly you feel Citizens United is guilty of Treason. I admit that I am not very familiar with them other than by name. I checked out there nauseating website and was uncomfortable (kind of like being inside the mind of a madman); but found no confession of treasonous activity. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not disagreeing. I figure there is much about them that they don’t advertize. So fill me in if you will.

      I have been constantly amazed at the amount of Latitude allowed the Republican dominated House. There refusal to take the necessary action to avoid a financial crisis or more to the point; their publically stated intention to kill any piece of legislation presented by the President even if it made the situation worse along with their publically stated intention to kill all bills and initiatives or to defund any programs from the President in order to assure his being a one term President.
      These statements and actions seems to me a conspiracy to commit at the very least Sedition.

      “Sedition is any act, writing, speech, etc., directed unlawfully against state authority, the government, or constitution, or calculated to bring it into contempt or to incite others to hostility, ill will or disaffection

      Why has no one called for their removal and arrest for “Conspiring to bring the government into contempt and inciting others to hostillity, ill will, and disaffection? Surely there is a case for this. They have publically admited to these crimes in there arrogant assumption of immunity.

      What about this one?

  2. Hey Mike,
    Great piece. I disagree with you on just one point. perhaps I am wrong but as I see it the behavior you describe can be construed as treason. Below are the dictionary definitions for treason. If you read number three, I think it applies here also read the list of synonyms and the notes. I think that anything done that for the exoress purpose of injuring the people and aiding foreign corporations to the detriment of the american people is treason. betray the state if you must but don’t betray the people. they are the nation.

       [tree-zuhn] Show IPA

    the offense of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill its sovereign.

    a violation of allegiance to one’s sovereign or to one’s state.

    the betrayal of a trust or confidence; breach of faith; treachery.

    1. T reason , sedition mean disloyalty or treachery to one’s country or its government. T reason is any attempt to overthrow the government or impair the well-being of a state to which one owes allegiance; the crime of giving aid or comfort to the enemies of one’s government. S edition is any act, writing, speech, etc., directed unlawfully against state authority, the government, or constitution, or calculated to bring it into contempt or to incite others to hostility, ill will or disaffection; it does not amount to treason and therefore is not a capital offense. 2. See disloyalty.

    1. Angryman,
      I agree with you. I was perhaps overly delicate in my phrasing. It seems like treason to me.

  3. They’re not only in the lobbying business, they are into dirty trick and disinformation to crush ‘enemies’. They got caught earlier this year (remember the H B Gary/CoC disinfo plan) but it probably started well before then and goes on now.

    “Hacked Emails Show U.S. Chamber of Commerce Targeted VelvetRevolution.US, Other Progressive Groups With Massive Disinfo Campaign
    UPDATE: ‘Brad Friedman’ and family personally targeted as well…”

  4. What a terrific collection of blog topics today. Exposing the truth about the Chamber of Commerce, “Ghetto Loans” and ethically challenged Republicans abusing the filibuster. Thank you to each of the contributors.

    I became aware of the true mission of the US Chamber of Commerce as they went on the offensive against the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act. The Chamber was quite vocal that there should be no affordable care or protection for patients. I did not know how much money was funneled to them by the health insurance industry, but it’s no surprise given their fervent, high pitched and inaccurate advocacy against the bill.

  5. Calvin Coolidge said, “the business of America is business.” However, the business of business isn’t America.

  6. Mike S.,

    I like Gene am very familiar with the CoC….They are a political origination disguised as concern with business….the only concern that they have is getting people in positions that think the way that they do…I know in a few states if you get the chambers endorsement…It most assuredly gives you the office….On the flip side….if you look at the teamsters…they have never backed a presidential candidate that has lost….with the exception of Gore…but his election was stolen…..

  7. I’m glad others are finally catching on. The Chamber is an organization that should be on every American’s “watch them closely” list and fight them at every turn.

  8. “Reading this got me to thinking about the Citizens United decision.”


    Interesting catch. Until I started doing this piece I hadn’t really related Citizens United to the USCOC. In fact I never thought much about the organization, although I was vaguely aware of their political leanings. I never even thought of them as lobbyists per se. Now in my mind I think of myself as a highly politically aware type of person, show when I received the request to sign the petition, I wanted to first understand what I was signing. Then I started reading the background material, then Wiki-ing and Googling. I was amazed at my ignorance. This is why I use the included quotes to make my case, rather than summing things up in my own words.Knowing the sophistication of this blog’s readership, I was hoping that people would let themselves delve into the work of the USCOC and see how it threatens our country.

    “Thanks. Never paid attention to them before.”


    Knowing your political sophistication, I’m glad you had a similar reaction to mine upon discovering the material.

  9. Reading this got me to thinking about the Citizens United decision. Someone commented to me a while back they will believe a corporation is a person when Texas executes one.

    As for me, I want to see a birth certificate and talk to the parents. We need to establish citizenship before they can be allowed to vote.

  10. I think what I am going to do is contact the local chamber of commerce and ask if they are members of the national, and why.

  11. Mike,
    You are spot on. The Chamber of Commerce is not only fighting our own economy, it is doing it with foreign money.

  12. Good stuff, Mike. Then again, I’m already familiar with the USCOC and have long considered them a loathsome organization of profiteers bereft of any principles other than subverting the government to their profit seeking ends. They may not be openly seditious, but that they are subversive is without question based on the SOP.

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