U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Extremist Agenda to Derail Reform

U.S. Chamber is Spending Millions of Dollars to Scare Americans and Spread False Attacks

U.S. Chamber Has Already Spent More Than $24 Million on Ads to Kill Reform. In November 2009, the New York Times reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "which has enlisted the support of numerous conservative groups, has fired off more than $24 million worth of advertisements in the last 30 days alone, arguing that an overhaul would cost jobs, raise taxes and increase the deficit in a shaky economy."  [New York Times, 11/22/09]

  • U.S. Chamber is Using Insurance Industry Study to Claim that Americans Will Lose Coverage Under Reform. In one ad this summer, the Chamber of Commerce alleged that "88 million Americans" could lose their coverage and "be forced into" a government plan under reform proposals. But the people that came up with the 88 million claim, the Lewin Group, "is wholly owned" by UnitedHealth Group, one of the country's largest health insurance companies. [U.S. Chamber of Commerce Radio Ad, 8/12/09; Washington Post, 7/22/09]

In 2009 Alone, U.S. Chamber Has Spent More Than $52 Million to Lobby Congress. In the third quarter of 2009, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent a record $34.7 million on federal lobbying. "The business group, which has opposed the administration in such areas as health care, climate change and financial regulation, dramatically upped its spending over the summer. It spent $7.4 million in the second quarter." In the first quarter, the Chamber of Commerce spent $10 million. [Roll Call, 10/21/09; Senate Office of Public Records, accessed 11/30/09]

U.S. Chamber Solicited Funds to Commission a Study That Would Report Health Reform Would Kill Jobs. In November, the Washington Post reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups were  "collecting money to finance an economic study that could be used to portray the legislation as a job killer and threat to the nation's economy, according to an e-mail solicitation from a top Chamber official. The e-mail... proposes spending $50,000 to hire a 'respected economist' to study the impact of health-care legislation... Step two, according to the e-mail, appears to assume the outcome of the economic review: 'The economist will then circulate a sign-on letter to hundreds of other economists saying that the bill will kill jobs and hurt the economy. We will then be able to use this open letter to produce advertisements, and as a powerful lobbying and grass-roots document.'" [Washington Post, 11/16/09]

U.S. Chamber Has Historically Fought Proposals to Expand Access to Health Care

U.S. Chamber Opposed Bill to Expand Children's Health Care. In a January 2009 letter, Bruce Josten of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged members of Congress to vote against the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, writing that the bill "raises taxes on a narrow sector of the U.S. economy with the aim of funding a broad-based entitlement program, which is grossly unfair and burdensome to American businesses and consumers." [Chamber Letter, 1/14/09]

U.S. Chamber Opposed 2008 Bill to Prevent Medicare Cuts, Instead Choosing to Protect Insurance Company Profits. In 2008, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce expressed its opposition to the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 because it would cut the Medicare Advantage program. Referring to the bill, and the cuts to the private insurance Medicare Advantage program, the American Medical Association aired an ad saying "A group of U.S. senators voted to protect the powerful insurance companies at the expense of Medicare patients' access to doctors." [Chamber Letter, 6/12/08; AP, 7/2/08]

U.S. Chamber is Lobbying Against Sick Leave Proposal Intended to Curb the Spread of H1N1. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently came out "against congressional measures intended to curb the spread of the H1NI virus." The legislation "would provide American workers with five days of paid sick leave. The provision would sunset after two years, but the idea is to keep swine flu carrying workers from infecting their collleagues [sic] and adding to the epidemic. Chamber Vice President Randel K. Johnson told the New York Times that they oppose paid sick leave because 'the vast majority of employers provide paid leave of some sort.' Except, many employers don't--one third of workers don't have any paid sick leave." [Mother Jones, 11/19/09]

U.S. Chamber President: Universal Coverage is "A Very Unrealistic Goal." Discussing universal health care in 1994, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Richard L. Lesher said, "We have put that on the shelf for now." He added that universal coverage is "a very unrealistic goal." Lesher "said the chamber decided to reverse its policy on universal coverage because it was hard to separate that goal from an employer mandate. Since there was strong disagreement on employer mandates, universal coverage also had to be reconsidered, he said." [Hartford Courant, 3/1/94]

U.S. Chamber VP Says Business Community Will Wage "All Out War" Against Paid Family Leave. Randal Johnson, vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits at the United States Chamber of Commerce, said the business community will wage "all-out war" against paid family leave for two reasons: First, "someone's got to pay for it," and second, "paid leave will give employees an incentive to use it ..." [Austin Business Journal, 9/10/07]

  • U.S. Chamber VP Says it Won't "Roll Over" on Family Medical Leave. ''Supporters of legislation like this complain about unfunded mandates in education when it comes to No Child Left Behind, but they don't hesitate to impose unfunded mandates on employers,'' said Randal Johnson, vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits at the United States Chamber of Commerce. ''The employer community is not going to roll over on this issue.'' [New York Times, 12/5/06]

U.S. Chamber Opposed Family and Medical Leave, Saying it Set a "Dangerous Precedent." Discussing the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1987, Virginia B. Lamp of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said, "Sometimes an issue is lobbyist-driven or Washington-driven, but this is absolutely grass roots," adding that business sees the bill as creating a "dangerous precedent" of federally mandated employee benefits. [New York Times, 2/3/87]

U.S. Chamber Called Pregnancy A "Voluntary" Condition.  A 1978 article described the fight against the Pregnancy Discrimination Act as lead by "the Chamber of Commerce of the U.S., the National Association of Manufacturers and other business groups. They argue that pregnancy, as a 'voluntary' condition, should not be equated with illness..." [U.S. News & World Report, 7/10/78]
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