July 19, 2023


Every day the Chamber fights to protect businesses of all sizes across the country. The accomplishments speak for themselves, and our members appreciate the work we do for them.

The news business has changed, and unfortunately, even business journalists do not value facts the way they used to. That is the case with a BloombergBusinessweek story on the Chamber’s influence in Washington.

We answered questions, offered pages of evidence that countered preconceived beliefs, and suggested sources who understand the effective work the Chamber is doing for American businesses. But he stuck to his original opinion, choosing to ignore facts and run with “gotcha” quotes. It does not tell the full story of the Chamber’s work and fails to serve the BloombergBusinessweek audience.

This is a political story that did not fully vet the work, so we are doing it here. For instance, the reporter and the fact checkers at BloombergBusinessweek failed to correctly spell former Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue’s name.

The truth is the Chamber is playing the long game successfully in support of free enterprise and a strong American economy. We are doing it with smart strategies that best serve the needs of our members.

Chamber Spending

Let’s put the details about Chamber spending into context. We value our members’ hard-earned dollars and spend them in the most effective ways we can.  As “evidence” of declining Chamber influence, the story points out the Chamber spent $32 million on issue ads in 2009 but only $1.8 million in 2022. That is 13 years and seven election cycles ago – a few lifetimes in politics. 

Times have changed and our political tactics have changed too. Politics has gotten more polarized. In the early 2000s there were an average of 77 Congressional districts where citizens voted for a Representative and a President of opposite parties. Today, that average is 20. The Chamber has adjusted our approach to where we can deliver the most value. We are targeting our political program, our advertising, and our lobbying to the places where they will make a difference. This means moving away from massive high-dollar TV spending towards delivering high-touch, high-value support in key districts across the country.

As for lobbying, the story uses the Obama administration as a baseline for Chamber spending ($144 mil) as compared to 2022 ($81 mil). It fails to note that 2010 was the first time in 15 years that Democrats controlled Congress and had a 60-seat majority in the Senate. That generated a lot of legislative and regulatory activity on which the business community – and the Chamber – was intensely engaged.

Chamber Policy Wins

Leaders in Washington will not always agree with the Chamber, but this year, most Republicans have been aligned with us. We will continue to work with members of both parties in support of pro-business policies.

Also, oddly, when these stories come out no one makes the case that the Chamber is ineffective. That is because we get big wins for our members and American businesses.

Here are some Chamber policy successes since 2021: 

  • The Chamber helped get the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law after 25 years of leadership and effort. Our efforts also provided political pressure and cover to separate infrastructure spending from the tax-and-spend “Build Back Better” reconciliation effort.
  • The Chamber worked with members of the House and Senate to reject $2.6 trillion in tax increases and harmful provisions from the final Inflation Reduction Act.
  • The Chamber helped secure bipartisan passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, including by uniting 240 state and local chambers and business associations to urge Congress to act swiftly on this priority.
  • The Chamber successfully urged lawmakers to avert a catastrophic rail strike that would have cost our economy $2 billion per day.
  • The Chamber was among the first and loudest calling for bipartisan negotiations to the debt ceiling standoff and laid out areas of agreement that would lead to a compromise. Much of what we called for, including repealing unspent COVID funds, implementing spending caps, and attaching permitting reform to the debt ceiling legislation, became the basis for the bipartisan agreement.

Holding the Government Accountable

As part of our advocacy, the Chamber keeps a close eye on what the federal government is doing to businesses, and our efforts have led Congress to act.

For a year and a half, we have done our own oversight of the Federal Trade Commission through Freedom of Information Act requests. We filed a FOIA request – and ultimately sued the FTC to compel them to provide emails between FTC officials and European competition regulators. We combed through the hundreds of pages of mostly redacted documents, finding clear evidence of collusion.

We briefed Congressional staff and members on our findings and were pleased they carried that work forward when FTC Chair Lina Kahn testified before the House Judiciary Committee.

This kind of impact is something only the Chamber can deliver. 

Bottom line: Once you look past false narratives and spin and choose facts over feelings you find that the Chamber continues to be a smart, powerful defender of American business and free enterprise. We will continue racking up wins for our members as we have done for the last 111 years.