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Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Chamber of Commerce’

Today’s Flickr photo

A winter postcard from Cambridge, England. Flickr photo by .mush_king.

 

If you read one thing today . . .

Economist Dean Baker in the Talking Points Memo builds the case for a financial speculatin tax on stock market trades — a move that could raise $150 billion a year from Wall Street banks. It only seems fair that when the rest of us are worrying about our jobs and making mortgage payments that Wall Street “share the pain.” Not likely. Despite the recession, the banks, thanks mostly to a government bailout, are turning out huge profits and once again ready to  pay out obscene bonuses.

What is really great about a financial speculation tax is that the Wall Street banks would pay almost the entire tax. The economics on this is very simple. If a tax makes trading shares of stock, options, or other assets more expensive than people will trade less. For example, if a tax doubles the price of trading shares of stock, research shows that people will trade roughly half as much.

This means that investors will spend roughly the same amount on their trading with the tax as they did without the tax. They will pay twice as much per trade, but since they trade half as frequently, they end up paying the same amount on their trading.

Instead the cost of the tax will be born by Wall Street. The banks will have to absorb pretty much the full cost of the tax. This explains why prominent people in Washington have so little interest in financial speculation tax.

Overheard

Adam Liptak in the NYT looks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s success arguing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, big business has done extremely well.

“The Roberts court appears to be a mainstream, traditional, modern Republican, conservative court,” said Bradley W. Joondeph, a law professor at Santa Clara University and a former law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. “Part of its constellation of commitments is against the regulation of business and, in particular, the regulation of business through litigation.”

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • $4 million: The amount U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski raised during the 2010 election cycle
  • $1.26 million: The amount spent by a super political action committee (PAC) sponsored by Alaskans Standing Together to re-elect Murkowski. Much of that came from corporations.
  • $250,000: What Murkowski’s own PAC raised
  • Nearly $2 million: What Murkowski’s opponent, Joe Miller, raisedNote: Murkowski won a long-shot write-in campaign.

Although clamoring for change, these new lawmakers go straight for the cash
They came in as renegades, determined to upset the system and do things differently. Washington – Congress in particular – won’t do business as usual any more, they vowed. So what are the tea partiers and others who were swept into office on anti-incumbency fervor during the midterm elections doing now? Holding big-money fundraisers, of course. And many of those who newcomers are beefing up their staffs with well-entrenched K Street lobbyists. “Lobbyists for the most part are hired guns that represent corporations and other special interests that pay for them,” Craig Holman, money and politics expert at Public Citizen, told The Washington Post. “Those lobbyists now have direct access to the political agenda of these lawmakers.”

U.S. Chamber’s aggressive tactics prompt consternation by local chambers
The U.S. Chamber was unabashedly aggressive in its attempt to sway the midterms and in particular help conservatives get elected. But its tactics made many of its local affiliates uncomfortable. More than 40 local chambers distanced themselves during the elections from the U.S. Chamber, including (more…)

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We figured there was no better place to mark the U.N.’s International Anti-Corruption Day (you missed it?) than in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. That’s the same Chamber of Commerce that would like to seriously weaken the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The FCPA basically makes it illegal for a corporation to bribe foreign government leaders. Back in the 70s before the act was passed, it was pretty common for corporations to bribe foreign governments in exchange for all sorts of favors.

Friends of the Earth, Common Cause, U.S. Chamber Watch and Public Citizen all took a moment today to talk about the need for strong anti-corruption measures. Unfortunately, no one from the Chamber attended our rally.

From today's rally in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Dorry Samuels.

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Stunning Statistics of the Week:

  • 69: Number of preliminary reviews conducted by the Office of Congressional Ethics over the past two years
  • 11: Number of disciplinary actions meted out by the House ethics committee during that time
  • 10: Number of disciplinary actions meted out by the House ethics committee between 1997 and 2008, before the Office of Congressional Ethics was created

U.S. Supreme Court takes aim at Arizona clean elections law
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case challenging Arizona’s clean elections law. Under the system, if candidates forgo private fundraising and adhere to spending limits, they can receive public money after raising a set number of $5 donations. The law permits candidates to receive extra money if their opponent spends more than a certain amount. Good government advocates worry that the Supreme Court is gearing up to once again erode laws designed to curb corporate influence of elections.

U.S. Chamber’s election spending raises eyebrows among shareholders
Investors in four corporations that sit on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – IBM, Pfizer, Pepsi and Accenture – are raising concerns about the Chamber’s political spending and agenda. Through the shareholder resolutions, investors challenged their corporate boards to review their policies relating to political expenditures. One of the resolution’s filers said in a press release that “[t]he Chamber of Commerce is an aggressively (more…)

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Tea Party protestersTea Party members who want to punish corporations for supporting the policies of President Obama or congressional Democrats should demand that their senators pass the DISCLOSE Act (S.3628).

That’s the conclusion I came to after reading Paul Bedard’s Washington Whispers column in today’s U.S. News & World Report.

Bedard’s piece offers some interesting speculation by Tea Party organizers about upcoming campaigns to punish corporations that supported “President Obama’s progressive agenda.”

But Bedard doesn’t mention that the eager Tea Partiers will have no way to know which corporations to target, since so many corporations secretly give money to Big Business’ lobbying heavyweight, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and let it do the dirty work. (more…)

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Today’s Flickr photo

Incoming freshmen of the U.S. House of Representatives

New members of the 112th Congress met on Capitol Hill Friday morning. Flickr photo by TalkMediaNews.

If you read one thing today . . .

Think Progress’ Lee Fang has a nice reminder of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s history of putting corporate interests over the public interest. President Obama, who is reported to be considering giving a speech at the Chamber, might want to be wary of burying the hatchet with this group.

The Chamber does not represent the entire American business community — not by a long shot. 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.

As ThinkProgress has noted, journalists often give undue credit to the Chamber as the “voice for business” simply because the Chamber is an old institution, they associate it with separate and distinct local Chambers that actually represent small businesses, and because the U.S. Chamber has one of the most sophisticated media outreach programs in Washington, D.C. But the Chamber does not deserve such respect, either from journalists or President Obama.

Overheard:

Journalists David Sirota and Matt Taibbi knocked back some drinks recently and wondered why none of Wall Street’s crooks never seem to get their comeuppance. Taibbi, who writes for Rolling Stone, was in Denver on tour for his new book “Griftopia,” which looks at how Wall Street greed drove the economy into the ground with virtually no consequences for the perpetrators. So, are the Wall Street grifters untouchable?

“They’re not afraid because other than Bernie Madoff, when was the last time someone on Wall Street faced any real punishment?” [Taibbi] responded. “Sure, a few go to jail once in a while, but they’re usually out in a few months and then on the speaking circuit. That’s not exactly a deterrent against bad behavior that’s making you millions.”

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Today’s Flickr photo

Climate Change

Mensah Adrihor of Azizakpe standing on the site of his former home. Flickr photo by One.org.

If you read one thing today . . .

Not that this should surprise anyone but Bloomberg’s Drew Armstrong reports that the insurance industry gave the U.S. Chamber of Commerce $86 million in 2009 to lobby against President Obama’s health care package. If you recall that’s the same industry that Obama touted as having bought into the early version of his plan.

The insurance lobby, whose members include Minnetonka, Minnesota-based UnitedHealth Group Inc. and Philadelphia-based Cigna Corp., gave the money to the Chamber in 2009 as Democrats were increasing their criticism of the industry, according to one person who requested anonymity because laws don’t require identifying funding sources. The Chamber of Commerce received the money from the Washington-based America’s Health Insurance Plans when the industry was urging Congress to drop a plan to create a competing public insurance option.

The spending exceeded the insurer group’s entire budget from a year earlier and accounted for 40 percent of the Chamber’s $214.6 million in 2009 spending.

Overheard:

The White House’s relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? As the HuffPo’s Sam Stein puts it: It’s complicated. Despite the bloodsport of the midterm elections, the Obama administration is keeping the lines of communications open with the industry lobby group.

“People in this administration talk to [Chamber CEO Tom Donohue],” White House senior adviser David Axelrod told the Huffington Post in an interview last week. “People in the administration talk to other members of the board. We have good relations with some members; some are hostile. But what we need to do is pursue a pro-growth agenda. We may differ on some issues and they will make their political decisions in the future. But we are going to work individually with businesses wherever we can to help grow jobs and prosperity.”

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