The US Chamber of Commerce has been one of the most influential lobbying groups in our political system, in part due to the sheer volume of its spending. In the last year alone, the Chamber spent over $95 million lobbying and over $36 million on the last election cycle. By and large, the Chamber's spending has paid off in the form of low corporate taxes, lax regulations, and little federal action to implement policies that woudl help workers, such as raising the minimum wage or mandating paid time off.
However, the Chamber's grip on Washington may be loosening. The New York Times details how the Chamber's insistence during the fiscal talks on not raising taxes is not making much headway with the Obama Administration. And, as my colleague David Callahan pointed out today, the Chamber's position is increasingly out of step with many CEOs and coporate interests who are open to raising taxes to deal with the deficit.
The schism within the business community may be one reason the Chamber seems to not carry the same weight as before. The Times also details how, despite spending tens of millions of dollars on candidate elections, only seven out of the 48 Chamber backed candidates actually won—not a great rate of return.
The Chamber is still a strong lobbying force. As a representative for U.S. Chamber Watch said, the Chamber went from being an 800-pound gorilla before the elections to “a wounded 500-pound gorilla.” A 500 pound gorilla can still do a lot of damage. But, let's hope that this marks the begining of the end of the Chamber's dominance.