The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has released its recommendations for the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, or “supercommittee.”
In its letter, the Chamber’s chief lobbyist calls for “reform of entitlement programs” like Medicare and Medicaid (which means cutting spending on these programs). On taxes, “the group sees on opportunity to reduce tax rates” and does not want the committee to “single out specific industries or individuals for punishment”—which means oil companies, hedge fund managers, or corporate jet owners.
The Chamber, which has faced a great deal of controversy in the past year over ties to a dirty tricks campaign to smear critics and the possibility of foreign donations filling its bank accounts, is also a big player in the political money game in Washington. In the 2010 election cycle, the Chamber doled out $32.8 million in outside spending to benefit its preferred candidates.
One of the biggest recipients of this spending was supercommittee member Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who benefited from nearly $1.5 million in outside spending by the group last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Toomey’s campaign received $2,500 from the Chamber’s PAC as well. This doesn’t even include campaign cash from the PACs and employees of Chamber members.
Add that to the $2.7 million in help he received from the Club for Growth (Toomey’s former employer), and one has to wonder what sort of outsized influence business groups like the Chamber will have on supercommittee deliberations.
In 2010, Toomey’s fellow freshman Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) was endorsed by the Chamber, but did not receive any help from them in the way of outside spending.
This is just another example of why it’s so important that committee members provide complete transparency of their meetings with outside parties, including Chamber lobbyists, and cease fundraising while the committee is operational.