Chamber Me This

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • James Boyce Senior Advisor, John Kerry's Presidential Campaign, (RED) Digital Strategist, Founder CommonSense.Agency

The U.S. Chamber Of Commerce's recent actions on two of the most important issues facing our country, health care reform and climate change, are a complete riddle to not only me, but to many of the chamber's own members and former supporters.

Or, then again, maybe they're not. Or maybe they are? Who knows at this point?

Because under the leadership of Tom Donahue, the Chamber of Commerce is less about the old saying, "the business of American business is business" and more about the old businesses that are lining his pocketbook, for example, a million dollars from Union Pacific where is he is a board member and board members are reportedly prohibited from doing anything that harms the company.

For example, right now the Chamber is trying to change its climate change position and claim that, somehow, it is for climate change legislation but not really well kind of so they sent a 'letter' to the Senate claiming that they were kind of supporting climate change so get off our back and the letter was signed by lots of important people at the Chamber but:

One name familiar to many truck drivers was absent from the Chamber's letter. Chamber President Tom Donahue - a former 13-year CEO of the American Trucking Associations - didn't sign his name to the letter.

Donahue made headlines in recent weeks as the Chamber lost support from several major American businesses that advocate climate change policy and that opposed the Chamber's criticisms of cap and trade.

Yep, the Chamber is 100% behind what the Senators Kerry and Boxer are doing, just not the person leading the Chamber.

Of course, the Chamber is claiming that a vast left wing conspiracy is distorting its views, they are getting quite indignant about this and is claiming that this whole mess is everyone else's fault.

Ahh, poor babies, you almost feel sad for them. Here's a quote from my friend Pete Altman's blog.

The US Chamber would like you to know that it hasn't changed its position on climate, no matter what its recent letter to the Hill might have implied. According to a fresh blog post by Bruce Josten, the letter's author, the position stated in the letter "has been our position for the last two years and only represents a change to those who have willfully misrepresented it in the past."


Cisco Systems wanted to make sure that everyone knew that the Chamber did not represent them on climate change, or is that willfully represent them Bruce?

Dow and PEPCPO willfully stated that the Chamber didn't represent them either.

NRG willfully rejected being a Chamber member because of the chambers 'extreme position' on climate change.

Mohawk Paper. Gone.

And don't forget that Apple said "Iquit." And when it comes to leaving the chamber over bad climate policy, Nike just did it.

Now, all of these resignations and statements from current and former Chamber members have occurred in the last two months, not the last two years, so I would suggest that if the Chamber is solidly for Climate Change legislation, the time of legislation we need, right now, with not a moment to spare, they ought to start by telling their members what their policy is so people start leaving and they need to answer a few questions that Pete Altman asks.

Here are some straight-up questions that the US Chamber can answer in order to reduce the confusion:

* Does the US Chamber consider emission reduction targets and timetables to be essential to include or exclude from a climate bill?

* If the US Chamber thinks targets and timetables should be included, what does it believe should be the basis for setting emission reduction targets and timetables?

* What emission reduction targets is the Chamber prepared to support and on what timetable?

* When will the US Chamber lay out an actual proposal for climate legislation?

And by the way, where are the businesses who are leaving the Chamber going to show they do actually, and willfully, support climate change legislation? A lot of them are ending up here. American Businesses For Clean Energy seems to be a group of businesses that do understand why they want from climate change legislation and it appears to me that any business or business group can join.

Here's a way for the US Chamber to make its intentions clear, it should join this new group. And then all this silly confusion can be cleared up.

Oh, and Mr. Donahue, Union Pacific can join too.