Chamber of Commerce vs. Tea Party?

Last week I got several emails and comments from Tea Party members that were upset with comments made by the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, when he spoke to the Rotary Club of Atlanta recently. The emailers were outraged that Mr. Donohue was threatening congress members that dared to listen to their constituents in the Tea Party. At the time there was very little coverage of the incident and I failed to investigate it further.

But now I see that former Congressman Bob Barr has addressed Mr. Donohue’s comments in a column titled Chamber’s “Threats” Are Counterproductive on his blog The Barr Code over at I suggest you read the whole thing but below are some of the highlights:

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.


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.

I never joined my local chamber, the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. The group is pushing for MARTA trains in my neighborhood and it administers the North Fulton CID which is spending a quarter of a million dollars to raise my sales taxes. But even though I have serious concerns about my local Chamber of Commerce, I was astounded to find out the national organization has gone so far as to attack the Tea Party and conservative principles.

Over the years I believe the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has done a great deal of good. I hope that just because times are tough the organization is not going to forsake the conservative principles that make this nation the greatest success story in the history of the world. But when the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is arrogant enough to run around threatening to “get rid of” the only congressmen willing to rein in our nation’s catastrophic spending binge the organization has a problem.

If you are a member of the Chamber of Commerce I encourage you to pay close attention to the people running it and the agenda they are pushing. If they share your goals and you approve of their tactics you should let them know. If on the other hand you see that they aren’t representing you appropriately then I encourage you to make that known as well.

I don’t always agree with Bob Barr but he nailed this one right on the head.