Industry vs. the Democrats
By any objective telling, the Democrats have been nothing if not kind to business since Barack Obama’s election. They’ve bailed out the banks with hundreds of billions of dollars. They’ve watered down climate bills with huge subsidies to the coal, oil and electric industries (i.e., the nation’s biggest polluters). They’ve caved to the telecom giants on warrantless wiretapping. They’ve cut deals with pharmaceutical makers that all but solidify their enormous profit margins. They abandoned mortgage bankruptcy reform. There’s been zero appetite for campaign finance reform. They bowed to the banks in delaying credit card reforms. And the list goes on.
No matter. The business community is upset with the Democrats for what it perceives as a heavy-handed approach to new regulation. And, behind the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it intends to go after the party in November’s elections. The Washington Post’s Dan Eggen reports:
Modeled in part on Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign juggernaut, the [Chamber] has built a grass-roots operation known as Friends of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It has a member list of 6 million names, aimed at lobbying on legislation and swaying voters to back preferred candidates, primarily Republicans, in battleground areas, officials said.
The group will target vulnerable Democrats in up to two dozen states with ads, get-out-the-vote operations and other grass-roots efforts. The chamber plans to spend at least $50 million on political races and related activities this year, a 40 percent increase from 2008.
And this is the pickle for reform-minded lawmakers since the dawn of time. How do you protect citizens from the banks that wrecked the global economy, or the food conglomerates that have poisoned their customers with impunity, or the phone companies that tapped lines without a judge’s OK, or the coal companies that ruin entire mountain communities, when your re-election hinges on campaign cash from those same groups?
The answer — you don’t — makes a strong case for campaign finance reform.