Not only does the U.S. Chamber of Commerce think it is the only reason the GOP won in November, it is now threatening Republicans with opposition next go round if they don’t lay down and give the Chamber precisely what it wants, including on immigration, increased spending on transportation, and economic deals that sweeten the pot for big business.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce flexed its muscle in the midterm election, winning 14 of 15 Republican primaries in which it was involved and helping the GOP recapture the Senate. Now it wants the Republican majority in Congress to get to work.
Forget small business, or the average Jane or Joe, the Chamber wants what it wants. Unfortunately, the WSJ either overlooks or is ignorant of how this would leave the GOP completely open to attack from the more populist wing of the Democrat Party. If, for example, a Hillary Clinton could win over that wing, and the GOP ran yet another Bush, totally beholden to corporatist America, 2016 might not be such a good year for Republicans, no matter how much noise the Chamber may make.
Chamber Chief Executive Tom Donohue said in an interview that the GOP has two years to enact “a vigorous program aimed at meeting the needs of the American people” or risk losing their majority. The Chamber wants Congress to act on business priorities such as an immigration overhaul, transportation funding, tax breaks and trade agreements.
And of course immigration is first on their list, with more government spending and big business-friendly financial policies right behind.
Mr. Donohue wants Republicans to act on immigration despite the political furor created when President Barack Obama in November eased deportation rules for millions of illegal immigrants already in the country.
“There’s one thing they could do right now, and quickly—pass a bill,” Mr. Donohue said, referring to the Republican outcry over Mr. Obama’s executive actions. “You’re the dog that caught the truck. Now, figure out what to do with it.”
The Chamber head thinks the 2016 presidential race offers both parties further incentive to change the current system. “Would you want to run for president in either party if you were opposing an immigration bill?” he asked.
The Chamber is also taking credit for beating more conservative Democrats, claiming they’ve now been replaced by moderate Republicans. But the Chamber’s post election wish list may end up flying in the face of what those same Republicans campaigned on. Few, if any, of them were singing the praises of Obama’s unilateral action on immigration. But damn the voters, apparently; the Chamber seems to want what it wants, and the voters who elected Republicans can go hang. Perhaps those same voters will let the GOP go hang next election if they turn out to be little more than shills for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Despite the polarization, Bruce Josten, the Chamber’s head of government affairs, sees more room to compromise over the next two years because expanded Republican majorities and an “enlarged moderate GOP wing” will make it easier for congressional leaders to negotiate with the president. “There are more opportunities to cobble votes together,” he said.