Last week, House Republicans, led by Rep. Jim Banks, celebrated the creation of the American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce as a legitimate alternative to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — which has become the premier steward of legacy establishment political thought in Washington.
The Republicans specifically noted that the U.S. Chamber had gotten a little too focused on enriching China. In its unfortunate response, the Chamber offered a statement that said in part: “… today, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was advocating for boosting domestic energy production and cutting tariffs to curb inflation.”
Let’s take energy production first. The U.S. Chamber is in favor of new energy taxes, ostensibly to address climate change. No clue how giving the federal government more taxpayer cash or raising the price of energy will solve whatever problem you think is posed by climate change. Moreover, the Chamber has sat by more or less silently while Team Biden has actively discouraged investments in the oil and gas industries through its manic focus on financial regulation of the energy sector.
How about tariffs? The tariffs that the Chamber is working so diligently to destroy were put in place by former President Donald Trump (and kept in place by President Biden) in an effort to rebalance the economic scales after 30 years’ worth of communist China’s economic aggression. Getting rid of the tariffs mostly serve the long-term economic interests of communist China (obviously) and the U.S. Chamber’s membership, rather than American citizens, families, neighborhoods and communities.
What is going on with the U.S. Chamber anyhow? Aren’t they the advocates of American businesses?
Not really. Most of the decision-making in the organization resides in a handful of large, multinational companies. It should come as no surprise that these companies are interested in their assets and operations in other countries and make decisions in accord with those interests.
The United States Chamber of Commerce is really the Chamber of Commerce for multinational companies that are headquartered here in the United States.
That’s fine; good for them. Everyone should have the chance to participate in the discussion. But there needs to be clarity about who cares about what. If you are a multinational company, it is reasonable for people to assume that your attention may be divided and that the best interests of the United States — economic, national security, whatever — may not always be at or near the top of your mind.
Happily, the marketplace is now giving people a choice. For companies that are focused on and resident in the United States, there is the American Free Enterprise Chamber. They will be an advocate for companies that are American in orientation, interests and sentiment. For companies that have a broader focus, the U.S. Chamber will continue to represent a broader, more international constituency.
The Republicans have made it clear which they prefer. Over time, the Democrats will likely follow suit.
One final note is worth mentioning because it perfectly captures the moment. At the Summit of the Americas this month, the swag bag for the CEO Summit was provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Most of the contents were made in China. No one apologized, and no excuses were made: It was clearly intentional. That tells you everything you need to know about the focus and constituency of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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