Written by AIM.org
The White House is doing an end run around the Chamber of Commerce by peeling off corporate support over the organizations opposition to Obama's climate change bill.
From the Politico
The White House and congressional Democrats are working to marginalize the Chamber of Commerce - the powerful business lobby opposed to many of President Barack Obama's first-year priorities - by going around the group and dealing directly with the CEOs of major U.S. corporations.
Since June, senior White House officials have met directly with executives from more than 55 companies, including Chamber members Pfizer, Eastman Kodak and IBM.
"We prefer the approach - particularly in this climate - where the actual people who are on the front lines, running businesses, trying to create jobs, come and advise us on policy," senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett told POLITICO in a not-so-subtle effort to portray the Chamber as out of touch with business reality.
Chamber officials say the White House is scapegoating the Chamber and other trade associations as a way of dividing the business community, a move that could help the administration made headway on health care reform, climate change legislation and regulatory reform.
"It's happening with the deliberate hope and attention to weaken the influence of this institute and the business community in town," said Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs at the Chamber. "When they launch a frontal assault against free enterprise and the Chamber of Commerce, I can guarantee it is not lost on any trade association executives or staff in this town."
But in recent weeks, the Chamber has repeatedly taken shots from within - with companies including Apple and PG&E leaving the group, and Nike quitting the Chamber's board, to protest its opposition to cap-and-trade legislation that passed the House in late June.
And even some lobbyists are distancing themselves from the business group, opting not to sign on to letters put out by the Chamber or participate in joint advocacy efforts.
"They've taken a real hit this year," said a prominent Democratic lobbyist who spoke on background because he has associates at the group. "In the White House and on the Hill, among the people who run things, they are radioactive."
Democrats in Congress have been angered by the Chamber's attacks on the House climate change bill and its staunch opposition to the creation of a consumer financial protection agency, a centerpiece of the administration's financial regulatory reform efforts. And like Jarrett, some of them seem eager to paint the group as grounded more in political ideology than in business reality.
"There's a strong, very conservative ideology there," said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.). "They're more like The Heritage Foundation then they are like an economic association."
The Chamber is supposed to be pro-business and protect the interests of its members. It has done so with its opposition of the climate change bill which isn't as much about saving the planet as it is about the government making another attempt to control our lives and add yet another level of taxes on an already overburdened taxpayer.
Maybe conservatives should voice their support of the Chamber by boycotting the products of companies that caved to the White House and quit the Chamber.
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