A top official at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce continued to decry the Obama administration's opposition to the group, even though White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to speak before its board of directors next month.
The Chamber has come under fire from the White House in recent months because it opposes several of its key, first-year initiatives such as cap-and-trade climate legislation and new financial regulations.
President Barack Obama has criticized as "false" advertisements the
Chamber has run in opposition to a new Consumer Financial Protection
Agency, which would regulate credit extended to businesses. The White
House has also skirted the Chamber, meeting directly with top CEOs to
discuss its agenda.
In an interview on "Fox News Sunday," Chamber executive vice president for government affairs Bruce Josten dismissed notion that with $488 million in lobbying spent since 1998, his organization runs Washington. He said they were glad to work with White House on issues like cap-and-trade,
but "things seem to change when we have a difference of opinion."
"We haven't raised up the Cain; it came from their side of the street," he said. "We're not going to take the bait and engage in a name-calling campaign here."
He added that "there's been a number of invectives that have come out of the White House...I don't know where this name-calling suddenly came from."
More broadly, the Chamber has attracted the enmity of Democrats in recent years for a perceived alliance with Republicans. Sen. Chuck Shumer (D-N.Y.) last year attacked the Chamber as an arm of the GOP.
Josten, the Chamber's chief lobbyist, said that Emanuel was invited to speak a while back as the group
traditionally invites members of the Cabinet. But Emanuel originally had a conflict on
"We're glad he finally accepted this invitation...that invite has been out for several weeks," Josten said.
"The question we have is: Does the Chamber really represent the business community the way they used to?" Jarrett, the president's chief business liaison, told the Washington Post. "It seems as though their members are disengaging."