Chamber of Commerce Quietly Supports a United Government Led by Democrats

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Yves here. The Chamber of Commerce is deviating from its usual form to act like real estate developers, who often support both sides early on, and then late in the election, give more to the likely winner.

By Thomas Neuburger. Originally published at DownWithTyranny!


Saagar Enjeti explains the importance of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s quiet decision to back Democratic candidates 

One of the more underappreciated pieces of news in a week that exploded with news — leak of Trump’s taxes, the presidential debate, the presidential disease — was this, that a long-time strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has resigned over the Chamber’s decision to back 23 vulnerable House Democrats and to reduce financial support for Republican senatorial candidates.

From Politico:

Chamber of Commerce and top political strategist part ways amid turmoil

Scott Reed, who had been with the business organization for most of the past decade, said it was shifting toward Democrats. 

Scott Reed, the longtime top political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday that he left the organization after a political shift at the business lobbying powerhouse.

The move comes amid mounting fears among Republicans — including many within the organization — that the traditionally conservative Chamber is moving to the left after endorsing roughly two dozen freshman House Democrats for reelection this year.

Reed explained his departure (the Chamber said he was “fired for cause”) this way: “I can no longer be part of this institution as it moves left.”

Putting aside the dispute over whether Reed left or was fired, there are two explanations for what the Chamber is doing, and they’re not the same. Reed says he departed because the Chamber “moved left.” The Politico slugline writer says more simply that the Chamber was “shifting toward Democrats.”

Needless to say, “moving left” is not the same as “supporting Democrats.”
Ryan Grim, writing at The Intercept, calls the Chamber’s transformation a “slow migration of the elite wing of the Republican Party into the Democratic fold.” This seems a much better explanation.

Hedging Their Bets or Trying to Influence the Outcome?

As Rising‘s Saagar Enjeti noted in the video above, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which spends $100 million per year, is the largest lobbyist by far in the United States, doling out 30% more money than its nearest competitor.

In the past, all or almost all of that money went to Republicans — 93%, for example, in 2010. This year the Chamber is not only supporting many more Democrats; it’s supporting Democrats in a way that will make a difference in the partisan makeup of Congress. While the Chamber also supports House Republicans, the 29 House freshmen it is backing “are running in some of the most competitive races in the country, including 14 in districts won by President Donald Trump in 2016” according to CNN.

On the Senate side, the Chamber has greatly reduced its spending on vulnerable Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Politico notes that Reed’s decision to resign “was linked to the Chamber’s unwillingness to spend significant money on Senate races in the closing days of the election” and adds that Ms. Collins is receiving “far less money in 2020 than … in 2014, when [the Chamber] put tens of millions of dollars behind GOP Senate candidates.”

Politico has Reed saying the Chamber is “hedging its bets.” Voices on the libertarian right are much more virulent, calling this a “betrayal” and abandonment of “free market principles.”  At the same time Republican leaders see the Chamber as, in House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s words, “part of this socialist agenda that is driving this country out, and … fighting the president.”

Those are angry, empty words. Biden to Trump at the first debate: “I am not a socialist.” Progressives to world: “It’s true. He’s not. He’s a moderate Republican.”

Three Conclusions

From all this I think we can draw three conclusions, each leading to a different electoral thought.

First, that Ryan Grim is right when he says the elite wing of the Republican Party is being folded into the Democratic Party — not just in theory, but in practice, in dollars, as well. It’s clear that the Chamber and those who give it their money have made the calculation, at least for this presidential cycle, that their interests will be genuinely served by a Biden White House and a unified Democratic Congress.

In other words, they want a united government controlled by the Democratic Party. They know Trump is going to lose (Trump was scheduled to lose even before the recent Covid incident), and they’re working to both maintain a Democratic House majority and to sabotage the current Republican Senate majority.

There’s really no other way to read this news.

Second, as stated above, the Chamber of Congress and the big-league donors who support it know that a Biden White House and Democratic Congress will further their interest far more than a Trump-led divided or Republican government.

If the Chamber is right, progressives looking to “move Biden left” after the election, have their work cut out for them. The only “moving left” the administration will do is on identity issues. On issues involving money, it will “move left” only at the margins and for show.

For example, will Biden ban fracking? Of course not; there are too many big-donor dollars (and banking dollars) involved in that industry. For all his recent words, Biden seeks a “middle ground” on climate issues. It’s easy to promise carbon-free power by 2035,” fifteen years into a future in which he’ll be dead.

Finally, Biden will almost certainly be the next president.

I mentioned a “Trump-led government” above for a reason. Earlier I wrote (“Civil War? What Civil War?“) that almost everyone in the establishment regardless of party, from the military to the national security apparatus to the media to, now, the Chamber of Congress, opposes a return of Donald Trump to the White House. While they’re not working directly against him — that would be a bridge too far — they’re not help out; in fact, they’re working to give him a Congress he can’t work with.

The truth is this: Donald Trump is such a terrible, unpredictable and embarrassing steward of the American hegemony project that no one with Establishment power wants to see him back. #NeverTrumpers are just a tip of the Republican side of that iceberg. This “betrayal” by the Chamber of Congress, one of the Republican Party’s most stalwart and reliable supporters, strongly supports that contention.

If this is true, it means I will be proved right in predicting the outcome of the coming election as follows:

  • If Trump wins big, Trump’s in.
  • If Biden wins big, Biden’s in.

But:

  • If Trump is ahead in a squeaker and it goes to the courts, the Roberts Court will give the win to Biden unless there’s no defensible way to not give it to Trump.
  • If Biden is ahead in a squeaker and it goes to the courts, Biden will be handed the White House.

You can bet that if the election is closer than the number of disputed ballots in key electoral-college states, there will be a way to hand the election to whichever candidate the Roberts Court prefers. Will John Roberts, a Republican, give the election to MAGA Republicans or to Chamber Republicans, if he could pick one or the other? John Roberts is a Chamber Republican.

If you’re worried about the 2000 election and you fear a Republican Court will back a Republican candidate, consider that George Bush was also the Establishment candidate. This time, the Establishment candidate is the Democrat.

Even if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed this year, will she really want to oppose John Roberts in her first Supreme Court opinion ever, Roberts who will lead the institution she’ll serve for the next 30 years of her life? If course not; there will be plenty of time for Amy Coney Barrett to screw the country later. Roberts will win the discussion, if he wants to, this time around.

Again, Trump is not the candidate of the oligarchy, of the small clutch of people who actually run the country. Biden is. In any close outcome, he has the edge. Biden will be the next president unless Trump wins by a significant margin — or dies and the rest of the country, including the Chamber, falls suddenly in love with Mike Pence.

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17 comments

  1. Ignacio

    Could Trump’s infection be the last straw for the Chamber? Even if the article suggests that the change occurred before.

    Reply
  2. Lambert Strether

    > the elite wing of the Republican Party is being folded into the Democratic Party — not just in theory, but in practice, in dollars, as well.

    The Great Assimilation™, as I have called it.

    Reply
  3. Code Name D

    Progressive Republicans? Not as silly as you might think. In Kansas (and I suspect in other “red” states), Progressive Republicans are those who participate in Republican Primaries because there aren’t any Democrats to speak of. So, if you want to participate – it means voting in Republican Primaries. This is where a lot of your Republican “moderates” come from.

    With the Chamber of Congress leaving the party, there isn’t a lot of support left inside the structure. Meaning the party is open to ideological capture. If a third party won’t work because – reasons. Then why aren’t we talking about invading and reshaping the Republican Party?

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      Absolutely, this is the most mainstream-adjacent power lying loose in the street since decades. The elite consolidation into one party does leave the other party, already dispositionally more open to entryism and commoner democracy than the other one, yet more vulnerable to competent management and being set on a new course.

      Still, it’s “just” a matter of ruining the careers and lives of the predators remaining in the rump party, of breaking their half of the bipartisan oligarch machine so thoroughly it will never run again. At the moment, that means to politically disable (permanently) the baby neoliberaltarian bots and cancel their social privileges, which is difficult since, like any other psychotic, they seem to have genuine faith in the malarket and an absolutely instrumental view of anyone not part of their household.

      Reply
    2. Carla

      I respectfully submit that it’s the TWO-party duopoly that won’t ever work — at least in the way that most of the Naked Capitalism commentariat thinks government ought to work — like, uhm, a democracy or something…

      Reply
      1. Alex Cox

        But in practice a duopoly is what we have. The Repugs have made big inroads with working class voters. If their elites are joining the Dems now, maybe by 2024 the remains of the party can be dragged to the left of the Dems.

        It wouldn’t be hard!

        Reply
    3. Odysseus

      Then why aren’t we talking about invading and reshaping the Republican Party?

      Why bother? The racist history can’t be rehabilitated.

      Create a third party with a sane platform, and none of the racist baggage. Make the break from the past explicit.

      Reply
      1. Code Name D

        The Democratic Party was rehabilitated their racist baggage. Remember the Democrats used to be the party for slavery, and later for segregation. Dems even funded the KKK as a bid to block Blacks from taking office in the south.

        Reply
        1. Old Jake

          But those Democrats are now the Republican party (or at least the rump). Nixon saw the opening and took it. So the Democratic Party of the sixties and seventies was busy severing its ties with the old Southern Democrats. If that’s “rehabilitating” then there’s a difference between rehabilitating a party and changing the political scene in the US. That’s what’s really needed, not just seesawing a group between the stage cutouts.

          Reply
      2. Hepativore

        The trouble is that if a third party was threatening to grow powerful enough to pose a threat to our current political system, you will see a sudden cooperation between Democrats and Republicans to change the rules and make sure to nip said third party in the bud.

        As a case in point, look at how the Democrats are successfully getting Green Party candidates tossed off of the ballot in several states. Since the two main parties we currently have are in charge of running the elections they can rewrite the election process to hamper third parties however they see fit. The same thing goes for small reforms like ranked-choice voting and hand-counted ballots in public. It would make sense to do things that way but both Democrats and Republicans overlap when it comes to wanting to inhibit free and fair elections as much as possible.

        Biden is going to laugh in the face of any attempt to move him left for the next (probably) eight years of Bidarris. It might make more sense for progressives to try and take over the Republican party for 2024 and beyond.

        Reply
    4. shinola

      In Ks. the Dem. candidate for US Senate was an “R” less than 2 yr ago. She served in the Ks legislature as an R.
      Her campaign schtick is, more or less, “I’m such a moderate centrist it’ll make your head spin.” Her TV ad’s feature “regular” people saying some version of “I’m a life long Republican but I’m voting for her this time around”.
      She promises to “work across the aisle”.

      Of course, the Trump-loving R candidate calls her positions “extreme”.

      So, what now passes for “Democrat” is what used to be a “moderate” Republican. Just the type the CoC can get behind.

      Reply
  4. DJG

    Understatement of the year: “If the Chamber is right, progressives looking to “move Biden left” after the election, have their work cut out for them. The only “moving left” the administration will do is on identity issues. On issues involving money, it will “move left” only at the margins and for show.”

    I’m so old that I remember when the Clintonians were trying out “incremental change” on the rest of us.

    I suspect that the “move him left” crowd will fizzle out. Those leftists who do try to oppose the Biden administration’s plans will be red-baited. I’m sure that Claire McCaskill will be happy to do the job.

    The “moving left” on identity issues will consist of offering some high-level job to Peter Buttigieg, oh, maybe ambassador to Norway.

    And then the Newly Unified Democratic Party will declare a triumph.

    Reply
  5. Somecallmetim

    All quite well and good, but what’s going to happen to senatoRs after DJT fades/soars into ignominy?

    Reply
  6. juno mas

    Interesting article. It’s important to recognize that the Chamber of Commerce does not simply lobby Congress. The CoC also infects local and state government. CoC types get appointed to local planning commissions, park/rec boards, and well-funded state commissions. They have more impact on government than most folks understand.

    Local and state appointees are not on most peoples radar; but they have an out-sized impact. Want to move America in a progressive direction? That is where you start. Takes lots of effort and a good local newspaper.

    Reply
  7. Andrew Thomas

    Let’s see what happens now that the Dingbat Don has done another of his 180s on the ‘negotiations’ for the ‘stimulus package’. I imagine someone told him he could get the $25 billion for the airlines without doing anything else. Judging by the Democrats’ past performance during this debacle, it wouldn’t take an unhinged mind like his to believe that it is quite possible.

    Reply
  8. deplorado

    I’m sorry, shouldn’t “Chamber of Congress” be “Chamber of Commerce” ?
    Way too many instances of repeating it, even in comments on which it was commented…

    Reply

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