US Chamber of Commerce the big loser of the presidential election
Old-time Washington is not sure if Donald Trump is fur, fin or fowl.
He ran as a Republican, but he donated to Democrats. Which one is he?
The short answer, is that Donald Trump is Donald Trump. How can you tell which way the wind blows with Trump?
Here’s a hint — It blows against the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has spent the last year demonizing him for his positions on trade and immigration. To be clear, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has little to do with local chambers of commerce.
While local chambers cater to the needs of car dealers and restaurant owners, the national Chamber operates as the lobbying arm of large corporations that have never met a big government program they did not like.
They are weapons dealers pushing billion-dollar battleships and telecommunications lobbyists protecting slow internet at the world’s highest prices. They are lobbyists for pharmaceutical companies, big banks, and Wall Street traders who treat the American people as gullibles to be fleeced without mercy.
Trump seems to have their number. Back in June, candidate Trump told a crowd in Bangor, Maine that “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is totally controlled by the special interest groups…They’re a special interest that wants to have the deals that they want to have.”
Steve Bannon, chief strategist for the president-elect, has noted that “the underpinning of this populist revolt is the financial crisis of 2008. That revolt, the way that it was dealt with, the way that the people who ran the banks and ran the hedge funds have never really been held accountable for what they did, has fueled much of the anger in the tea party movement.”
When it comes to the pharmaceutical industry, Trump himself has been clear he is going to bring down the cost of prescription drugs. He says the American people have had their pockets picked long enough by corporate lobbyists who have crafted a system in which the government is powerless to negotiate better prices.
Could the price-gougers and fraudsters be near the end of their rope? Maybe.
Big Pharma is already in such bad standing with Republicans on Capitol Hill for their acquiescence to Medicare Part D and the Affordable Care Act that they have hired the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to do much of their lobbying. Fraud after fraud have made a mockery of any pretension of integrity within their industry. One vibrant health care company has racked up 10 fraud settlements.
But if Big Pharma is in bad odor, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is not doing much better. Tea party Republicans have been quick to note the Chamber is not only a cheerleader for open-border immigration, but also for companies rolling up their factories in order to slide them off to Mexico, China, and Vietnam.
Companies that crowed about moving offshore to incorporate in Ireland in order to dodge U.S. tax obligations, have been only too happy to demand the U.S. government intervene to protect their patents and subsidize their research and development costs.
Truth be told, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce did not expect to sit in the chair they now find themselves in. A year ago, Donald Trump did not seem a likely winner in the U.S. presidential sweepstakes.
Never elected to any office in the past, and never having served in government in any capacity, he violated every norm of Washington communication.
Instead of press conferences, he tweeted at 3 a.m. Instead of reading zingers off a teleprompter, he spoke without notes, often sliding extemporaneously from one topic into another.
In the end, Trump narrowly won. Was it because he broke convention or in spite of it? No one is quite sure.
What is certain, however, is that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent the last 18 months demonizing Donald Trump in the expectation that Hillary Clinton would be president. President-elect Trump has made it clear that he wants to move quickly on immigration, trade, and out-of-control defense and health care spending.
Consequently, the battles ahead may be less about Republicans versus Democrats and more about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce versus President Donald J. Trump.
In those battles, guess who the American people are going to be cheering for?
Chris Riedel, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, is a successful False Claims Act whistleblower in the healthcare arena.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.