NYT Shocker: Chamber of Commerce Promotes Business Interests

Today The New York Times ran a front-page story about the nefarious political influence of corporations that, to the paper's credit, did not so much as mention Citizens United. According to the official, presidentially endorsed narrative, which the Times generally has been eager to promote, that Supreme Court decision, which overturned restrictions on election-related speech by corporations, opened the floodgates for a disastrous, democracy-destroying deluge of dollars that is drowning out the voice of the people, which is why you can't hear them cheering for the Democrats. But it would have been hard to explain how that decision, handed down in January, permitted big donations that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce received last year from Prudential (which was resisting new financial regulations) and Dow Chemical (which was opposing "tighter security requirements on chemical facilities"). It would be even harder to draw a connection between Citizens United and donations that the Chamber of Commerce received from Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and the insurance company Aegon "in recent years." Those contributions, which had nothing to do with the election-related rules overturned by the Supreme Court, are nevertheless the lead examples in a story with the headline (in the national edition) "Large Donations Aid U.S. Chamber in Election Drive."

The Times says these donations "suggest that the recent allegations from President Obama and others that foreign money has ended up in the chamber's coffers miss a larger point: The chamber has had little trouble finding American companies eager to enlist it, anonymously, to fight their political battles and pay handsomely for its help." Wait a minute. The Chamber of Commerce gets money from big businesses?  And they expect it to help shape public policy in their favor? How long has this been going on?

Although the chamber's efforts include "issue ads," they consist primarily of lobbying, on which the organization spent $144 million (about three-quarters of its budget) last year. It looks like the breakdown this year will be similar. In other words, the main complaint of the chamber's well-informed critics is really its petitioning of the government, as opposed to its freedom of speech (although it's hard to do the former without the latter). Is there cause for concern? To the extent that the chamber is pushing bad policies, yes. But the same could be said of every other interest group that tries to influence the government—AFSCME, for instance, or the staff of the (corporate-owned!) New York Times. In this case, the Times, in both its news and editorial pages, is pushing the DISCLOSE Act, which restricts speech in the name of transparency (in a way that just happens to favor its Democratic sponsors). Go here for an explanation of why that would be bad policy.

I discussed Obama's "foreign money" smear in my column last week.

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  • ||

    Liberals have the most attitude towards business. It is as if businesses are some sort of alien entity. The concept that businesses provide needed services and good to customers and jobs and a way to make a living to their employees eludes them. They really seem incapable of understanding that a business or worse still a dreaded corporation could be a societal good.

  • Spoonman.||

    Well, you see, everything done by a large corporation could be done by a small, local, organic business with unspecified enormous benefits to the community, aside from higher cost and lower quality, of course.

  • NPR||

    Liberals have the most attitude towards business. It is as if businesses are some sort of alien entity.

    Most of those douches have spent their entire lives in or sucking the tear of government and academe.

    So businesses are alien entities to them.

  • Admiral Ackbar||

    I find that hard to believe. Most liberals have never worked or don't currently work in the private sector? I think there's too many to just say "oh, they're all gov workers or professors or teachers."

  • MNg||

    You're right of course, but it's so much easier to generalize!

  • hmm||

    There might be a little more force behind the defunding of NPR given recent donations from private sector entities that openly oppose the GOP. Right, wrong, or indifferent that seems to be an interesting twist to the story.

  • ||

    NYT Shocker: Chamber of Commerce Promotes Business Interests

    In other news, McDonald's Sells Hamburgers Something That Looks Like Meat Served Between Two Halves of Something That Looks Like A Bun.

  • Old Mexican||

    Ugh, especially NOW that hyperinflation is setting in.

    It was not more than 2 weeks ago that I went to Burger King to buy a regular Whopper, and they served me this thing consisting of two pieces of stale bread with a thin slice of something meatlike in the middle of a few pieces of lettuce. And people think inflation is "only" 1 or 2%? The TRUE cost of things ALWAYS shows up in some way, doesn't have to be in a MONETARY way.

    Fuck the gov! And FUCK YOU, you thieves with no character! Yes, YOU, the eleutherophobes, the statists.

  • ||

    You couldn't find a nice Italian sub for twice the cost and a thousand times the quality? Neanderthal.

  • Admiral Ackbar||

    $5 foot long at Subway OM. You could even extend it out to two meals.

  • waffles||

    they don't have any meat in them

  • Spoonman.||

    ...yes they do

  • ||

    sorta

  • ||

    Aorta?

  • ||

    I was thinking more of what appears on the label as "other meat products."

  • ||

    Aorta is other meat product.

    I wonder if there's aorta in Potted Meat Product?

  • Libertarded Troll||

    Order double meat.

  • Old Mexican||

    Wait a minute. The Chamber of Commerce gets money from big businesses? And they expect it to help shape public policy in their favor? How long has this been going on?

    Just recently, I guess . . . if you believe the great Tlatoani.

  • Peanut Gallery||

    NYT comments are great. Really an indictment on readership of the "newspaper of record".

  • JoshINHB||

    But they're stealing our demokracy with secret furren money.

  • Spartacus||

    I nominate "disastrous, democracy-destroying deluge of dollars" for alliteration of the month.

  • MNG||

    It's odd to see libertarians defending this. What do you think these business interests are hoping to get in return for their contribtions, libertopia? More likely rent-seeking don't ya think?

  • mr simple||

    That's the difference between us and major party constituents. We support other people's rights even when they disagree with us.

  • ||

    Perhaps you missed this part of the item:

    Is there cause for concern? To the extent that the chamber is pushing bad policies, yes. But the same could be said of every other interest group that tries to influence the government—AFSCME, for instance, or the staff of the (corporate-owned!) New York Times.

    More generally, special interests are always going to engage in rent-seeking. If they cannot do it legally, they will do it illegally. The solution is to remove government's ability to deliver favors.

  • Jordan||

    Believing in free speech doesn't mean agreeing with everything everyone says.

  • KPres||

    It's sort of like libertarians supporting gay marriage. The pure position is to get government out of marriage altogether, but since that option isn't on the table, many libertarians support the side that most closely resembles our principles.

    Similarly, the purist position on special interest subsidies is that there shouldn't be any. But since that isn't a realistic option, many libertarians will support the special interests that most generally lobby for free enterprise, ie, the Chamber of Commerce.

  • ||

    Stop making sense.

  • DFWKev||

    Does anyone know the reason for the discrepancy between the numbers reported by the NYT and the WSJ?

  • Wow||

    Just wait until they find out that politicians play politics! The hissy fit they'll be throwing then will be EPIC.

  • jtuf||

    Hmm. On the rare days when I'm downtown, I bring my "Everyone have the right to build" sign to support the right to build the Islamic Center at Ground Zero. Maybe I should make a small "NY Times Hates Free Speech" sign for the days when I'm in Midtown.

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