Chamber Tries to Fool America Again

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is back in the news today. According to The New York Times, “The United States Chamber of Commerce warned today that antipollution laws could kill entire industries and that the Government should be ready to pay for the economic consequences.”

Wait, that’s not from today, that’s from May 18, 1971. A thousand pardons.

Actually, today, a Chamber vice chairman said, "We simply must get a handle on regulatory overkill, waste and confusion. The federal government has become a virtual correctional institute for business, and excessive regulation is really strangling small business."

Darn it. I’ve done it again. That quote is from a January 1981 AP article.

Today’s news (seriously this time) is a speech from Chamber president Thomas Donahue in which he stated, “Regulation is the vehicle by which some seek to control our economy, our businesses, and our lives—and left unchecked, it will fundamentally weaken our nation’s capacity to create jobs and opportunity.”

The chamber says it will target energy and labor standards and attempt to undermine implementation of health care and financial reform, and it is promoting its website, complete with a board game where businessmen and women try to navigate Financial Reform Falls and Health Care Reform Hill to reach Prosperity Park. Players move back spaces on the board as a result of Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspections or Environmental Protection Agency regulations. (I’m not sure if there’s a penalty for oil spills or contaminated products.)

What the website does not feature is a list of those industries destroyed by pollution controls, or a list of businesses strangled by regulation. Why? The Chamber doesn’t have those lists.

Do regulations impose compliance costs on businesses? Yes. But year after year, lobbying groups like the Chamber, purporting to represent the American businessman, tell us that new regulations will shut down companies and destroy jobs. They complain, they shout, they fear monger; but at the end of the day, businesses adapt, and the world – now cleaner, safer, and healthier – continues to turn.

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