The U.S. Chamber is not a government body but at times has so much influence that it’s not far off. “The Chamber views itself as a shadow-government policymaking body,” a former U.S. Chamber economist, Lawrence Hunter, said
As our 2014 report, “The Gilded Chamber,”
showed, the U.S. Chamber is largely funded by entities contributing large donations – just 64 donations added up to more than half of the money it raised in 2012. As a 501(c)(6) non-profit, the U.S. Chamber must list all donations over $5,000, but not the names of the givers. Only a handful of companies voluntarily publish their contributions; by not reporting, the rest can lobby and campaign invisibly.
As the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) was being debated, the U.S. Chamber increased its lobbying. The Chamber spent $71.1 million
in the last three months of 2009 alone. Moreover, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the health insurance industry’s main lobbying group, paid
the U.S. Chamber $100 million to lobby against the ACA – all while AHIP was supporting the insurance plan in public. That lobbying money only became publicly known a year later.
The next year was no different. 2010 tax forms and anonymous sources revealed that health insurance companies had given the U.S. Chamber $86.2 million in 2009 to oppose health care reform
, even as many of the same companies continued to show support for the reform in public. The U.S. Chamber has lobbied against small excise taxes on the hugely profitable medical devices industry, for repealing or weakening the ACA’s employer mandate (while also peddling highly misleading arguments
about its impact on small business hiring) and for other measures that would pick apart the ACA and leave millions without access to affordable healthcare.
The U.S. Chamber even fought against a bill supplying health care to 9/11 first responders
and emergency workers because it was funded by ending a tax loophole exploited by foreign corporations doing business in the U.S.
It’s time to get the money out of American politics, or, at the very least, to expose groups like the U.S. Chamber who’s campaign spending put it in a better position than most to influence the outcome of elections.