During a recent visit to the Rotary Club of Atlanta, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue fired a warning shot across the bow of recently elected House Republicans. Donohue explained that if they continue to oppose an increase in the debt limit, “We’ll get rid of you.”
To be clear, many Republicans in Congress do not necessarily oppose an increase in the debt ceiling. They oppose an increase without much needed reforms in spending and corresponding spending cuts to match the increase in the debt ceiling. This is hardly an unreasonable demand. In fact, Republicans seem to have a public opinion in their corner as most polls show opposition to allowing the government to keep borrowing more and more money.
The spin from the U.S. Chamber to cover for these arrogant, unnecessary and likely counterproductive comments is that Donohue was joking. But as the AJC’s Jim Galloway noted last week, the Chamber is pushing hard for an increase in the debt limit, and warned of severe consequences to the country’s economy if Congress did not do so.
Perception is often reality in politics. A member of Congress in a competitive district never wants to hear the Chamber say, “we’ll get rid of you” due to a disagreement on a policy issue, even if it subsequently is said to be a joke.
The Chamber of Commerce and tea party groups may have worked towards the same goal during last year’s mid-term election, perhaps a good example of the old saying, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” There was agreement that the policies pushed by President Barack Obama and the Democrat-controlled Congress – most notably the so-called health care reform law passed in March of last year, which has become known as “ObamaCare” – were imposing substantial and destructive regulatory burdens on businesses, large and small.
However, the differences between the two groups can easily be seen now that the Republicans, many of whom were elected with tea party support, are in control of the House or Representatives.
Many Republicans operate under the belief that whatever the Chamber of Commerce wants is good policy. But what is seen as being “good for business” is not always good for taxpayers. After all, the Chamber supported fiscally irresponsible spending like the TARP bailout and the so-called “stimulus” package, that has proved less than successful at achieving its touted objectives. The Chamber is also backing an increase in the federal gas tax even though fuel prices are already extremely high and volatile; one of the factors that have economists say could continue the slow pace of economic growth.
Would Chamber members rather elect more Democrats to the Congress — Representatives who favor raising the debt ceiling so government can spend more, which reduces value of the dollar, sops up credit in the marketplace that otherwise could be used for productive, private sector uses? Perhaps they should decide also then to support President Obama’s reelection; I’m sure he would welcome the endorsement.
by Bob Barr — The Barr Code