Politics & Policy

Locked in the Chamber

Republicans should declare independence from the Chamber of Commerce.

Once again, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is showing its true colors — and they aren’t pretty.

According to its mission statement, the Chamber of Commerce exists “to advance human progress through an economic, political, and social system based on individual freedom, incentive, initiative, opportunity, and responsibility.”

Naturally, then, one would expect the Chamber to stand with the Republican party, which is closer to the Chamber’s stated mission in favor of freer markets and individual liberty. And, financially, that tends to be the case — so far in the 2014 cycle, for example, nearly $90,000 has been given to Republicans by the Chamber, and nothing to Democrats, according to OpenSecrets.org.

However, standing with the GOP does not mean standing for the principles of the GOP and its conservative base.

Consider, for example, that in 2008 the Chamber backed the Troubled Asset Relief Program — hardly a policy that supports “responsibility” — and in 2010 gave Representative Ron Paul (R., Texas) its worst rating of any Republican. The reasons for Paul’s poor rating? Opposition to, among other policy measures, President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill and a tourism-subsidization bill.

And in April of this year, the Chamber stood behind reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, a taxpayer subsidy of some of the world’s largest corporations.

Of course, the Chamber is not alone in these stances among GOP-affiliated individuals and groups. A Republican president launched TARP, and the Export-Import Bank has been reauthorized by the GOP-controlled House.

But now the Chamber has gone to a point where its true colors, in favor of Big Business over the American people, are showing in a way that should formally alienate a conservative: Its president has said that “if the Republicans don’t do [immigration reform], they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016.”

According to Politico, Tom Donohue was joking, but such a “joke” shows where Donohue and the Chamber are on one of the most important debates of current politics.  

#page#Alas, Donohue wasn’t talking about productive reform, such as increased border security, elimination of welfare programs that benefit illegal immigrants, and enforcement of visas. He means amnesty — such as the Senate-passed immigration bill that passed with mostly Democratic votes last year.

Donahue isn’t alone in his position. According to Politico, National Association of Manufacturers president Jay Timmons “said he also thought immigration reform could pass this year, perhaps in a lame-duck session.”

#ad#Despite these clear violations of conservative principles, the media and many politicos consider the Chamber of Commerce one of the most ardent GOP-affiliated groups. And while it is on a political level . . . it is exactly the opposite at the level of principle.

Thus is the battle of principles vs. politics brought to the fore: Can the GOP afford to abandon the Chamber? The organization provides enormous cash and influence for the party’s elected officials and candidates, but often those officials and candidates are not aligned with the GOP’s stated positions.

Of course, GOP politicians and officials are often not aligned with the Republican party’s stated platform positions, either.

If tea-party activists and others want the GOP to stop swinging to the economic left, it’s clear that getting the Chamber of Commerce out of the picture is key. But can the GOP replace the influence of the Chamber? Certainly, it’s possible, but it will take a great deal of activism and money. Most important, it will take a large number of voters who want the GOP to show loyalty to conservative principles, not money.

After all, that’s what politicians are looking at, first and foremost: how to get reelected. Millions of dollars help with that, but in the end it’s the voting booth that has the final say.

Is the GOP up to it? Moreover, are conservatives and GOP loyalists up to it? Or will the Chamber continue to violate its own mission, which drags the GOP away from its principles, making it a Democratic-lite party instead of the party of traditional values and economic common sense?

— Dustin Siggins is the D.C. Correspondent for LifeSiteNews, a former blogger with Tea Party Patriots, and co-author of the forthcoming book Bankrupt Legacy: The Future of the Debt-Paying Generation.

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