While local Chambers of Commerce are generally a good thing, at the national level the US Chamber of Commerce has become a shill for multinational corporate interests. Their latest project is spending millions of dollars on a PR campaign to convince Americans to give corporations even more free reign.
The Chamber is running four minute ads in movie theaters called the “Faces of Lawsuit Abuse”, with the tag line “America needs more jobs, not more lawsuits.” Of course, their ads focus on frivolous lawsuits against small businesses, not on their real clients. According to the American Association for Justice:
The Chamber’s long terms goals are clear – get rid of the world’s best justice system and leave Americans injured by corporate misconduct with absolutely no recourse. While the Chamber doesn’t want everyday Americans to use the legal system, they are actually one of the biggest lawsuit-filers in Washington; except in their case, the Chamber sues on behalf of Wall Street banks, oil companies, and lead paint manufacturers. Given that the Chamber had feature roles in AIG, the subprime industry, Enron, and the banking crisis, they’ve earned an Oscar for causing the financial meltdown and creating an environment of less oversight and accountability.
Let me be clear — I am a small business owner and I have started a number of corporations, and America is definitely lawsuit happy. I would be very happy for a solution to this problem and would support it wholeheartedly.
But the problem is not just individuals suing corporations, it is also big corporations suing small businesses, and even (such as the MPAA suing alleged file sharers) corporations suing individuals. For the Chamber to hide behind feel-good phrases like “jobs” and “small business” for a campaign financed by large corporations is blatantly hypocritical. In the third quarter of this year alone, the US Chamber spent $39 million on lobbying. I’m sure they want tort reform, but I’m also sure they don’t give a damn about jobs and small businesses.