U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The art of purchasing Congress and the White House has become much smoother, and much less visible to the public. In 2004 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce took in $90 million to be used for bribes, er, uh, “contributions.”
Instead of each industry blatantly bribing a senator or congressman, these industries are quietly making huge contributions to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This money then gets spent by the Chamber to lobby on general issues (tort reform, for example), rather than individual industry groups having to blatantly bribe Congress with their own specific requests.
A spokesperson for Common Cause said “an average citizen speaks only at a whisper in Washington. But the Chamber and other big business associations, thanks to their clout and fundraising, speak with a megaphone.”
The Chamber’s recent successes include the loosening of ergonomic standards. Easy for them to say; you probably don’t get carpal tunnel syndrome from lobbying and fundraising. Tort reform is now their main issue. This includes limiting medical malpractice claims, and relegating all class action suits to a federal court (weren’t they in favor of “states’ rights” at one time?). The privatizing of Social Security is also part of their agenda.
The Chamber is also suing the Securities and Exchange Commission (see, conservatives aren’t always against litigation) for being too “harsh” on corporate underhandedness. They referred to New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s prosecution of corporate sleaze as “the most egregious and unacceptable form of intimidation that we have seen in this country in modern time.”